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Kindergarten-Grade 3–In his introductory notes, Ulmer explains that The Gift of the Inuksuk is not an Inuit legend, but rather an original pourquoi story. However, his language is as spare and straightforward as in many folktales, and he imparts information about the traditional lives of the Inuit. Inuksuit–sculptures of piled stones in the shape of large human figures–dot the landscape of the far north. Ulmer imagines a young girl who makes the first of these figures and uses them to guide her father and brother home from a caribou hunt. This simple story appeals because of the familial warmth it conveys as much as for the explanation of the origins of Inuksuit. Rose effectively uses blues, purples, and browns in her oil paintings to conjure up the cold and barren landscape and warmer tones for the expressive faces of the people. A pleasant look at an unusual subject.–Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
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PreS-Gr. 2. In this original pourquoi tale, Ulmer imagines the origins of the Inuksuk, piled-stone figures that appear across the Arctic landscape. Ukaliq, a young Inuit, makes towers of rocks that resemble friendly figures; she even imagines personalities for her stone companions. The small towers find another use when Ukaliq positions them as guideposts for her father and brothers, who are hunting caribou when a fierce snowstorm hits. The rows of Inuksuk not only guide Ukaliq's family but also direct a herd of much-needed caribou to Ukaliq's community. In a few places, Ulmer's poetic sentences ("a great storm drained the color from the earth") may initially confuse children, but her reverent story of a resourceful girl will encourage interest in Arctic cultures. Rose's thickly brushed acrylic paintings beautifully capture the blue Arctic light; the wide, sweeping snowscapes; and the deep relationship between humans and animals in the barren land. For another Inuit story suggest Debby Dahl Edwardson's Whale Snow (2003). Gillian Engberg
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