cover image Arctic Stories

Arctic Stories

Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak, Vladyana Langer Krykorka. Annick Press, $7.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-55037-452-0

Inuit writer Kusugak revisits the tiny Arctic Circle community where he spent his childhood, mining memories of the past in this trio of stories featuring a girl named Agatha. In Agatha's world, everyday life can include waking up in springtime to discover that the family's igloo has collapsed (""She was not inside... anymore; she was outside, in the bright sunshine""). In ""Agatha and the Ugly Black Thing,"" a research blimp flies over the community, frightening the residents, while ""Agatha and the Most Amazing Bird"" describes the region's many feathered visitors, including a pet raven that returns to Agatha's grandmother each winter. In ""Agatha Goes to School,"" the author pairs forthright comments on the practice of removing Inuit children to convent schools (""The nuns did not make very good mothers and the priests, who were called fathers, did not make very good fathers"") with a dramatic story of a skating expedition that goes awry. Kusugak (previously paired with Krykora for My Arctic 1,2,3) writes with clarity and dry humor. The cool colors of the setting's northern exposure bleed through the borders of Krykorka's watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations, creating a soft and slightly dreamy effect, which, unfortunately, is to some degree undercut by the clunky typeface and heavy blocks of text facing the art. In spite of its awkward design, this picture book is a notable addition to the growing body of Inuit lore. Ages 5-9. (Nov.)