Magic Words: From the Ancient Oral Tradition of the Inuit – Edward Field (Translator)

Illustrations – Mike Blanc

Sparse in words but full of wonder, Magic Words is an Inuit creation story that has been passed down orally and then written as a poem, now translated by Edward Field and accompanied by Mike Blanc’s gorgeous illustrations. Aimed at children between 4 and 12 years old, children and their parents alike will enjoy this book.

Magic Words invites us to imagine a time when humans and animals shared one language, when humans could become animals and animals could become human. We’re shown the magic of words, the power of speaking something into being.

Just like Vanita Oelschlager’s forthcoming book Fish-Boy it was Mike Blanc’s illustrations that sparked my interest in this book. I’m no artist but there’s something about Mike’s style that makes me want to linger over each illustration and I don’t know if I can describe this accurately but it is as though there is both a simplicity and depth to his artistry. You can glance at a page and know it’s a beautiful image but as you look closer you discover more and more intricacies.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Vanita Books for the opportunity to read this book. Between Magic Words and Fish-Boy I’ve had a small taste of Inuit culture but I’m hungry for more and will be on the lookout for future publications by Vanita Books.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Magic Words: From the Ancient Oral Tradition of the Inuit is a modern translation (1965) of a very old Inuit creation story by nationally known poet Edward Field. As a poem it captures beautifully the intimate relationship this Arctic people have with their natural world.

Magic Words describes a world where humans and animals share bodies and languages, where the world of the imagination mixes easily with the physical. It began as a story that told how the Inuit people came to be and became a legend passed from generation to generation. In translation it grew from myth to poem. The text comes from expedition notes recorded by Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen in 1921. Edward Field got a copy from the Harvard Library and translated it into English.

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