WAY BACK THEN by Neil Christopher
Kirkus Star

WAY BACK THEN

Age Range: 6 - 8
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An Inuit father lovingly regales his sleepy kuluit with bedtime tales of tiny people, giant polar bears, flying igluit, children born from the land rather than human mothers, and other wonders “way back then.”

Inspired by Arnaktauyok’s stippled scenes—of cozy ice shelters lit from within, figures clad in fringed and colorfully patterned hide dress, and magical arctic animals—Christopher presents a series of short folkloric episodes in Inuktitut script with English translations running below. The tales all open with the titular phrase, and they range from where caribou came from and the origins of night and day (in a quarrel between a fox and a raven) to how the loving land grew extra babies so that there would be more people and also gave an orphaned giant the sky for a home. The storyteller focuses more on wonder than drama: yes, the nanurluk were fearsome, but isn’t it marvelous that the giant polar bears were so big that they could be mistaken for icebergs? Imagine a time when sleds weren’t needed because an iglu not only provided shelter, but could fly from place to place! Several stories, such as how seals and small whales were created from the fingers of a bird spirit’s reluctant wife, are available elsewhere in fuller versions, but truncated as they are, these snippets together create a storyscape that, like the art they accompany, reflects harmonious connections with both the mythic past and the land itself.

A bilingual sampler—cold of setting but warm of spirit. (glossary/pronunciation guide, introduction) (Picture book/folk tales. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-7722-7021-1
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Inhabit Media
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2015




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