Miss Burnford spent two summers in the Arctic and, as she so disarmingly puts it, she was there ""neither to exhort or...



Miss Burnford spent two summers in the Arctic and, as she so disarmingly puts it, she was there ""neither to exhort or teach, heal, snoop, pay or persuade, but in peace alone, in friendly interest to learn something of their language and life."" Accompanied by a friend who came with the more specific purpose of drawing the Eskimos and their habitat, she was lodged in a kindergarten perched on the permafrost in the tiny community of Pond near Baffin Bay amid an endless expanse of ice-locked fjords and snowy cliffs. She found both her surroundings and her Eskimo hosts enchanting, cheerfully following the men on treks to hunt the narwhal, eating seal blubber with relish, studying the nesting habits of the snow goose, and admiring the soapstone carvings at which even the smallest Eskimo seems skilled. Since Burnford is not one of the myriad ""ologists"" who descend on the frozen north, her cultural gatherings are rather haphazard and sometimes one suspects her of seeing through slightly rose-tinted glasses -- she found the Eskimos without exception helpful, patient, naturally courteous, good-natured and self-contained. And unlike the Indians of Northern Canada with whom she had prior contacts, they did not appear to her to be marooned between the traditions of their forefathers and the Coca Cola/potato chip culture proferred by Western Civilization. Most had made the jump from igloo to prefab house with no discernible shock of dislocation visible on their smiling ""rosy-brown"" faces. Indeed Burnford speculates that it is chiefly the Kabloonhas (whites) who regret the passing of the old ways. Amiable and tactfully inquisitive and a very good scout no matter how numb her fingers and toes, Burnford conveys the snug simplicity of the little Arctic community. You will share her pleasures and small astonishments.

Pub Date: July 12, 1973


Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown--A.M.P.

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1973