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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Uumajut, by Simon Awa, Anna Ziegler, Stephanie McDonald. Illustrated by Romi Caron. Inhabit Media, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010. $14.95 ages 4 and up

"However, lemmings are also known to fight with each other. They will bite, punch and squeal at their opponents. Lemming skins can be used as bandages to heal cuts and more serious wounds."

It's not often that we see books written in Inuktitut and in English. Inhabit Media is changing that. This book about the wildlife of the Arctic has text written by a Nunavut author, with an English translation to make it accessible to a wider reading audience.

The introduction is brief and concerns the importance of wildlife to the people of the Arctic. Two chapters follow, describing those animals that live on the tundra, and those that live in the sea and on the ice. The book includes a lovely illustration of each animal in its stunning Arctic habitat, on a double page spread. The facing page gives a description of that animal in both languages and provides details about the animal's appearance, what it eats, common behaviours and traditional Inuit uses.

Readers will recognize some of the animals portrayed....the wolverine, the lemming, the arctic fox and the beluga. Others will be less familiar and will serve to add to their store of knowledge about this vast and beautiful place. I know about Arctic char as a delicious menu item,  but cannot remember seeing one prior to this reading. I am surprised with its size and the varied colors. Others include the Peary caribou and the amphipod. I found it most fascinating to learn about the ways the animals are used by the they use the animal parts to meet their needs. They have valuable lessons to teach us about waste.

This is a great introduction and is certain to lead interested readers to further research about the animals portrayed.

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