Among the perils of the Arctic is the amautalik, a terrifying, child-snatching ogress.
This introduction to the lore of the amautaliit offers a brief overview of the creatures’ physical characteristics (huge, filthy, and ugly), habitat (underground), and accessories—typically, an amautalik carries a basket on her back, made of driftwood and bones and lined with rotting seaweed in which giant insects make their own homes. Christopher then offers two stories, the first fairly lengthy. Two naughty boys and a quiet little girl are snatched by an amautalik and carried away in her basket. Kunaju, the girl, keeps her head, and when her amulet turns into a magic snow bunting that distracts the ogress, she leads the two boys back home. In the second story, a clever orphan boy uses his wits to scare another amautalik away. The book closes with a four-page gallery of other Arctic monsters. MacDougall contributes pencil sketches and lush oil paintings of tundra, children, and monsters, as well as lovingly depicted and extremely icky giant bugs. Inuktitut words are defined in footnotes, along with pronunciations; in a particularly graceful design choice, a tiny ulu (a curved knife traditionally used by women) substitutes for an asterisk. There are no source notes or bibliography, but the author is a Nunavut resident and student of Inuit lore.
As monsters go, the amautalik is a satisfyingly disgusting and scary one, and this introduction should appeal to a broad range of middle-grade readers. (Folklore. 8-12)