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The Inuksuk Book    by Mary Wallace order for
Inuksuk Book
by Mary Wallace
Order:  USA  Can
Owl, 1999 (1999)
Hardcover, Softcover

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I have been fascinated by inuksuit for some time, as they are remarkably similar to stone constructs that trekkers find marking trails in the Himalaya. Mary Wallace's beautifully illustrated Inuksuk Book introduces us to these intriguing statues and explains their importance in Arctic communication.

Arctic traveller Norman Hallendy introduces the Inuit as hunters who had to travel long distances in search of food, and for whom the inuksuit (plural of inuksuk) were vital communicators - the name translates to 'thing that can act in the place of a human being'. They save lives by showing the way, give warning of danger, mark a food cache, flag a place that deserves respect, and help in hunting caribou. Hallendy tells us that some Arctic inuksuit have stood for hundreds of years, and calls them gifts from the past.

Mary Wallace tells us about Nunavut, the territory created in 1999 in the barren but beautiful northern lands. She explains the importance of inuksuit, different styles of building them, and the messages they carry. She discusses the Inuit lifestyle and how it is changing, paints a picture in words of the 'awesome light show', the aurora, and talks about Inuit traditions relating to it. And she tells of the Inuksuk Project satellite launched in 1990 to provide sophisticated communication links to the Inuit.

This is a fascinating book on a fascinating subject. At the back are instructions to 'Build Your Own Inuksuk', as well as a guide to Inuktitut words.

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