CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 22. . . .February 12, 2016
Inhabit Media is an Inuit owned publishing company based in Nunavut. The company aims to promote and preserve the stories, knowledge, and talent of northern Canada. As a simple introduction to Inuit folktales, Way Back Then is a wonderful home and school resource sure to appeal to young readers and listeners. Written by Neil Christopher and illustrated by Inuit artist Germaine Arnaktauyok, Way Back Then is presented in dual text format, with the story told in English and Inuktitut. There is also an Inuktitut pronunciation guide because of the insertion of Inuktitut words in the English text.
Way Back Then is not meant to provide depth or detail. It is meant to whet the appetite for people to search for further information. It serves as an easy introduction to some traditional stories from the north. Christopher employs a “stories within a story format” for the book. The father, Kudlu, tells his two children bedtime stories. Each story begins with the words, “Way back then...” There are 12 stories in total, including pourquoi tales, with one being about why we have daylight and another being about the arrival of caribou after their emergence from a hole cut in the ice. There are also stories of giants and magical flying igloos that will appeal to young children’s imaginations.
Each story is half a page in length (with a half page presented in each language). The facing page consists of a full-colour, full-page illustration. Arnaktauyok’s artwork consists of grainy, heavily textured illustrations. The artwork is richly coloured, albeit appropriately with a predominantly cool palette reflective of the northern climate. In many illustrations, the spare use of bold reds is visually interesting.
The book is attractively presented with a hard cover and sturdy binding. Although it deliberately lacks depth, Way Back Then is highly recommended for young children.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba where he teaches children’s literature classes.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.