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Friday, January 22, 2016

Way Back When, written by Neil Christopher and illustrated by Germaine Arnaktauyok. Inhabit Media, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2015. 16.95 ages 5 and up

"Way back then, animals could remove their fur or feathers like we remove clothing. When they took off their animal skins, the would appear human underneath. In an old story, a man found a snow goose swimming in a small lake. Without her feathers, she was a beautiful woman ... "

When his children are tucked in and ready for bed, they are not sleepy; so, Kudlu responds to their request for a story. The stories they want to hear are the ones of long ago even before Kudlu was a boy!

"I want to hear about when the mountains were giants and there was lots of magic in the world."

Inside their iglu it is warm and cozy - just right for listening to stories their father heard from his mother.  All of the stories come from 'way back then' and they fill their small warm space with delight for the young listeners. Each of the tales shared is short, and results in something significant in life. A fox that wants to find food under cover of darkness becomes night; a raven who needs light to find food and the shiny things that attract its attention becomes day. Before there were the Inuit, there were exceptionally strong and skilled Tuniit. One hunter could a walrus on his back without help. Once there were giants in the world, and they did not get along. Did their fighting make the earth shake? I wonder.

Each short tale is perfect for bedtime reading. They are first written in Inuktitut script and then in English. Each one begins with Way back then and continues to help explain various phenomena of the natural world. They are full of wonder and a good dose of fantasy, and are sure to please all who have a chance to share them. It is a rich oral tradition, and each is accompanied by a beautifully detailed illustration. They glow with light assuring a lasting impression of the stories told.

Included are a foreword, an Inuktitut pronunciation guide, and the dual language telling.  It is definitely worthy of your attention and will be a welcome addition to your growing list of diverse literature.

This is just a reminder to be on the lookout for the amazing books that Inhabit Media is publishing. They are necessary and most appreciated by many.

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