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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Games of Survival, written by Johnny Issaluk. Inhabit Media, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2012. $12.95 ages 6 and up

"These games came from hundreds of years ago, when Inuit lived in iglus and tents. They played the games so that they would be physically strong and mentally healthy enough to survive in the -50 degree weather in which they had to go hunting, catch caribou, and so on."

Arctic athlete Johnny Issaluk and photographer Ed Maruyama provide instruction for traditional Inuit activities used to teach kids survival skills for Northern climes. Johnny explains each of the three basic types and why they were essential to the Inuit, names the games within them and gives explicit instructions for achieving success. The clear photographs are very helpful and I really liked that children were used to carry out his instructions and take part in these traditional games.

In the foreword, Thomas Johnston describes them:

"There are three main categories of games: strength, endurance, and my favorite, agility. In the strength games you face an opponent, and you challenge the person to see who is stronger. In the endurance games, you see how much you can take compared to others. In the agility games, you are competing against yourself, demonstrating how much you have practiced."

In his final thoughts, Johnny tells his readers that:

"The games are as important as our language, our throat singing, and our drum dancing. They are vital because traditionally they were used not only for fun, not only for celebration, but for survival."

I think this book would be great fun to share in classrooms, and with physical education teachers. It would add to any learning the class is doing about the Arctic and the Inuit people. These games are described, photographed and explained with step-by-step directions. My poor old knee aches just thinking about them, but I think I could use some for stronger shoulders and arms.

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