Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: An Inuksuk Means Welcome

Publish October 20, 2015

In An Inuksuk Means Welcome, artist and art therapist Mary Wallace uses the letters of the Inuktitut word inuksuk to provide an acrostic-style overview of traditional life in the Arctic. She follows a family’s activities through the seasons and incorporates Arctic animals, traditional clothing, and plenty of inuksuit (the plural of inuksuk) to welcome kids into this cultural experience. Wallace’s previous award-winning nonfiction title, The Inuksuk Book, was aimed at middle grade readers. This time, she uses her vibrant, dynamic paintings to convey the life and activity of the North to a younger audience. With each new letter of the word inuksuk, she introduces an Inuktitut word, describes its function, and provides a coordinating full-page illustration. Next she captures the beauty of that word in its Arctic setting: a nanuq (polar bear) stands against the northern lights, umimmat (muskoxen) graze in the blooming tundra, and a family travels by dogsled across the purple, blue, and yellow siku (sea ice). Inuktitut characters also appear opposite the phonetic translation of the word. In the introduction, Wallace cues kids to look for inuksuit as they read, and in the back matter, she encourages them to look again after explaining their multiple functions. Some may find it frustrating that inuksuit are absent from certain double-page spreads, but those structures kids do find will take on a new meaning thanks to Wallace’s explanations. An Inuksuk Means Welcome would be a solid compliment to social studies lessons about traditional Inuit customs and the languages of Canada.

An Inuksuk Means Welcome

Mary Wallace
Owlkids Books
ISBN 13: 978-1-77147-137-4

Jen Bailey
Jen Bailey Jen Bailey is an Ontario-certified teacher who holds an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She works for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. Jen’s other book reviews have appeared in Quill & Quire and Canadian Children’s Book News.

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