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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How Things Came to Be: Inuit Stories of Creation, by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley and illustrated by Emily Fiegenschuh and Patricia Ann Lewis-MacDougall. Inhabit Media, Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2015. $16.95 ages 8 and up

"As Inuit say it, this was the most sensible way to view the world. Did it not require a power, of some kind, to make the Sun shine? They believed that the powers of the first beings were greatest of all. So great that they could become whatever they wished. A person could become the Sun itself, or the Moon. It was will that drove all. Rage, fear, love: these could move the Land and Sea."

There are nine stories told here. Their topics range from the birth of children, to the origins of the sun and moon, day and night, even thunder and lightning. 

A detailed introduction will help young readers to understand Inuit beliefs about the Land:

"Inuit watched the Land. They understood that little things
become the great powers of the world. A snowflake becomes part of
a storm. A ripple in the water joins a great tide. A ray of light is the
sun's warmth, melting away winter snow.
One who hears a story may remember it, and with memory
may come understanding. The child grows with understanding."

A note 'about endings' and a Glossary of Inuktitut Terms bring the book to a close. In between, the nine stories will entertain and inform with clear and straightforward language. They can be read together or separately, on one day or over many. The contain new ideas that may become clearer in subsequent visits. The invite discussion with others.

"Once stone and soil had fallen, babies came. They emerged from the Land like flowers. Life came from the Land. There was little difference between animals and humans. All were equal beings. Every creature could understand every other. They lived with each other. Learned from one another. They were family."

The illustrations are attractive, and keep to the tone and imagery of the stories being shared. The colors are varied and reflect the mood of the telling. The authors are avid folklorists, sharing their stories in hopes that others will appreciate the land that gives life and sustenance to all creatures. This is another book worthy of our attention. Through its stories we gain awareness of the creation myths that have long been part of the oral tradition of the Inuit people.

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