Gr. 4^-6. With an excellent introduction to the land, the people, and the traditions that shape the American Arctic, folklorist Bierhorst presents 18 stories from the oral tradition of the people called the Inuit. He discusses how the Inuit live today and how the tales in this volume were originally told during long winters of continual darkness. The stories themselves have basic themes that link people of all cultures, for example, young people anxious to mature and leave home and not being ready when they go. The book begins with the tale of Kivio, who has an angry father and unhappy mother and who takes his family's kayak to catch fish and returns when his parents are near death. Other tales feature a tiny spider woman who acts as a helper to reunite families. The tales' language often reveals something of their place of origin: villagers "dashing . . . with the speed of a shadow cast by the northern lights"; a giant so big, she could stand with one foot on each side of a bay in order to "wait for whales to pass beneath her." Complete source notes and references are included. Karen Morgan
From Kirkus Reviews
A scholarly collection of traditional stories from the Inuit cultures of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, expertly edited by Bierhorst (The Way of the Earth, 1994, etc.), who includes an extensive introduction to the Inuit, as well as thoroughly annotated notes on each story and a listing of references. Taken one at a time, especially in the context of a unit on the Inuit, the stories have the inherent interest of genuine artifacts; as a resource for booktalking and for classroom use, this volume is authentic and invaluable. Few children will want to read it cover to cover on their own; the stories, if diverting, are unembellished, and readers raised on the tidy endings of European folktales and the pithy morals of Aesop may find these selections brusque. (b&w illustrations, notes, bibliography) (Folklore. 10+) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.