June 15, 2016

Those That Cause Fear

by Neil Christopher
Illustrated by Germaine Arnaktauyok
Inhabit Media
978-1-77227-085-3
40 pp.
Ages 7-10
June 2016

Those That Cause Fear is another magical collaboration between Nunavut author Neil Christopher and Inuit artist and illustrator Germaine Arnaktauyok whose recent picture book Way Back Then (Inhabit Media, 2015) also focused on the traditional stories of the Inuit.  Here, though, instead of focusing on stories from the past, Neil Christopher highlights twenty frightening creatures of Inuit mythology, evocatively induced by Germaine Arnaktauyok’s soft yet dark manifestations.

In his introduction, Neil Christopher makes clear that this book is about all manner of Arctic monsters, both extant and extinct, whose stories he has gleaned from hunters and elders, and journals of explorers.  If the book conjures terror and dread, as the stories were intended to warn of dangers, then Those That Cause Fear has accomplished its purpose. And heaven help those travellers who lose their way in the Arctic and are visited upon by one of these entities.

 Each two-page spread features an illustration and details of one type of creature, which include the amautalik, dog children, the palraijuq, earth children, Iqallijuq, the giant fish, Inukpasugjuk, Inukpasarjujuk, the battling giants, the sleeping giants, amarujjuat, akla Inua, kajjait, Mahahaa, Nuliajuk, the qallupilluk, Aasivak, taliillajuut, the Tuniit and nanurluk.  (In addition to this comprehensive listing of hidden Arctic dangers, Neil Christopher provides an Inuktitut pronunciation guide.)

Many are massive creatures, giants like the parka-wearing amautalik who steal away those who are lost, or Inukpasugjuk who could step over mountains, or Inukpasarjujuk who fished for bowhead whales as if they were but little fish.  Some are animals like amarujjuat which are magical and powerful wolves; or akla Inua, a grizzly bear in human form, or nanurluk, a giant polar bear as large as an iceberg.  Some live in the sea, others inhabit rivers and ponds, while there are those who seclude themselves on remote islands.  Except for the a few fear-inspiring but innocuous creatures, such as the taliillajuut and the Tunnit, the intentions of many  are cruel and mischievous, hence their moniker of Those That Cause Fear.  They lure, trap, steal, and kill if threatened, embarrassed, hungry or challenged, and they should be feared.

Neil Christopher’s details of these twenty creatures are given substance with Germaine Arnaktauyok’s bold artwork in its earthy tones of browns, greys and taupes, and cold water blues.  Like Those That Cause Fear, the books is brash and stark and mandates caution, an important lesson of most myths.
Aasivak from Those That Cause Fear
by Neil Christopher, illus. by Germaine Arnaktauyok

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