An authentic tale from Nunavut, the Canadian Arctic territory.
Inuit elder Angutinngurniq shares his grandfather’s story of the nanurluk, a giant mythological polar bear. According to the introduction, giants once roamed the Arctic and grappled with these bears. When those extraordinary beings disappeared, the nanurluit (plural for nanurluk) remained. This tale of a resourceful, unnamed hunter is told plainly and directly. Using his wits to make the bear’s aglu (breathing hole in the ice) smaller, the hunter accomplishes his plan to lure the bear from the sea. The realistic paintings contrast the blue-and-white landscapes and the dark blue underwater scenes with the warm tones of the traditionally dressed Inuit man and his wife. When the hunter stabs the bear as the animal struggles to break out of its breathing hole, red explodes across the ice and the page, creating a strong image of bloody struggle. The hunter knows he cannot kill the beast outright, but he fools the beast into walking in a weakened condition, leading to its death and much meat. The publisher, an Inuit-owned independent from Nunavut, makes it their mission to preserve and promote the traditional lore of northern Canada.
Though more violent than much picture-book fare, this streamlined story effectively conveys the way in which the Inuit people historically understood their environment and acts as a valuable window into the culture. (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)