________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 27. . . .March 18, 2011


Qanuq Pinngurnirmata: Inuit Stories of How Things Came to Be.

Rachel A. Qitsualik & Sean A. Tinsley. Illustrated by Emily Fiegenschuh & Patricia Ann Lewis-MacDougall.
Iqaluit, Nunavut: Inhabit Media, 2008.
50 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-0-9782186-8-3.

Subject Headings:

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Meredith Ball.

*** /4



Here arrives one account of the early days, the power days, when Inuit rose in strength and beginnings.

All life is breath.

Inuit know this breath as animiq, and even as it moves in and out of lungs, the wise know that it is never theirs to keep. For all living things use their breath while they roam the Land, but surrender it when it is time to pass from the Land.

This is a riddle, and at its heart lies that old knowledge that all existence is part of one, greater life.


Qanuq Pinngurnirmata: Inuit Stories of How Things Came to Be is a compilation of eight stories taken from the Inuit culture, each an explanation of how something came to be: the origins of day and night as seen through a battle between a Fox and a Raven; how babies were given to parents through the land; the Inuit's first encounter with the Caribou; how ice became part of the sea due to a man's escape and woman's fury; how the sun and the moon arose in the sky for the first time because of a prank between siblings; a girl's betrayal by her father and the consequent beginning of sea creatures; poor orphans who create thunder and lightning; and an early account of how a giant's baby could eventually end the world.

     Rachel A. Qitsualik and Sean A. Tinsley have put together this group of Inuit myths in a very majestic way. Each story is fairly short and usually accompanied by one or two beautifully illustrated images that further enhance the text. While these stories tell of the beginning of things, they are written about characters that are easily understood; many of the tales are about Inuit families, and several of the stories revolve around children. These tales are also framed by a short introduction and conclusion which explain that the stories provided are told from those of "Grand Sky" which is an Inuit way of describing those who are wise. Many of these stories are rather dark, and there is no shying away from death or revenge in these tales However, for an honest look at some of these myths, Qanuq Pinngurnirmata: Inuit Stories for How Things Came to Be does a wonderful job at retelling the stories in a modern narrative while, at the same time, keeping a strong sense of a traditional Inuit storytelling.

internal art      The illustrations for Qanuq Pinngurnirmata: Inuit Stories of How Things Came to Be, done by Emily Fiegenschuh and Patricia Ann Lewis-MacDougall, add wonderful depth and beauty to these stories. The text and the illustrations work well together in this collection. The illustrations, all done in full-colour, do a good job of highlighting the text of the story through the fantastic portrayal of the emotions and actions of the narrative, without taking away from what is being told. There is also an emphasis on movement in the images which helps to bring the stories to life by showing the vibrant power of the characters.

      While this collection of Inuit myths lends itself well to storytelling through the flowing narrative, it may not be suitable for individual reading, particularly for younger children. The language of these stories can be quite challenging at times, and, while the words that appear in the Inuit language are explained, there is no pronunciation key anywhere in the book. However, this compilation provides an excellent introduction to the myths of the Inuit culture while simultaneously telling delightfully entertaining tales of heartache, mischief, love, and more. Although this is an illustrated book of myths, the complex language and mature content of some of the tales also make it suitable for a slightly older audience, particularly as an introduction to either the Inuit culture or mythology in general.


Meredith Ball is currently completing her Masters of Library and Information Science in London, ON. She loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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