cover image Magic Words

Magic Words

Edward Field, Knud Rasmussen. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201498-8

Inspired by the journals of the Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen, who lived among the Inuit and collected their stories, poet Field (Frieze for a Temple of Love) and Vitale (Nursery Tales Around the World) produce a stunning picture book. Suggestive, compact poems retell Inuit creation legends, conveying their power as much through what they omit as through what they declare: ""This land of ours/ has become habitable/ because we came here/ and learned to hunt..../ But we know our land is not the whole world,"" states Field in the opening poem. However elegant the language, it is the illustrations that constitute a tour de force. Vitale expands on his signature oil-on-wood paintings to create collages of powerful beauty. Placed in harmonious arrangements against a snow-like, textured background, various stones, bark and wood are painted in a style reminiscent of Inuit prints and masks, but ultimately resonate with the artist's unique vision and feel for his materials. An original approach--in both poetry and composition--from start to finish. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)