cover image Caribou Girl

Caribou Girl

Claire Rudolf Murphy. Roberts Rinehart Publishers, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-57098-145-6

This clunky retelling, purportedly based on Inuit myth, tells of a girl chosen from among her people to follow in the footsteps of her great-grandmother as a shaman. The girl's community, dependent upon the caribou for food, clothing and shelter, faces disaster when the herd disappears. With her great-grandmother's amulet around her neck, Caribou Girl meets Tatqiq, the Moon Man, and is transformed into a caribou. Traveling with the herd, Caribou Girl learns its ways, eventually reuniting the animals with her people; she earns the title of shaman and the ability to assume the shape of either girl or caribou at will. Murphy's text elicits little magic and misses intriguing opportunities when, for example, Caribou Girl finds herself ungulate, running across the tundra, browsing lichens and escaping wolves. Russell's pale watercolors summon a bit of drama through montages of images; vignettes of Inuit life, the spirit world and dreams blend to produce a sense of commotion, but its end effect may be confusing for younger readers. Ages 4-10. (Apr.)