February 22, 2017

Inuit Spirit: A Colouring Book

by Germaine Arnaktauyok
Inhabit Media
48 pp.
Ages 7+
December 2016

This may be a colouring book and I know the expectation is that pencil crayons will be taken to the black-and-white line drawings, but it almost seems sacrilegious to mar Germaine Arnaktauyok’s stunning illustrations.  Perhaps this reverence is essential for all who behold this book as it will ensure that, even if you do take on the near impossible task of bringing new life to Germaine Arnaktauyok’s outlines, you do so with respect, care and an authentic appreciation for her images of traditional Inuit life.
From Inuit Spirit: A Colouring Book 
by Germaine Arnaktauyok
There are twenty-nine different line drawings that may be coloured, from the title page to Neil Christopher’s introduction and the author’s page, though the emphasis is definitely on the 26 drawings set up in double spreads opposite explanatory text about the art.  Some of the art focuses on the natural landscape of the North like the numerous drawings of the tundra plants including willow, lichens, saxifrage, bilberry, and its inhabitants such as the Arctic char, plankton, sea mammals, ptarmigan and gulls.  Other drawings feature characters  from traditional Inuit stories such as the very creepy mahahaa, the taliillajuuq, the qallupilluit, the nanurluk and Sedna, the mother of the sea mammals, as well as scenes from these tales. (See reviews of Way Back Then and Those That Cause Fear by Neil Christopher (Inhabit Media, 2015 and 2016, respectively) for original illustrations by Germaine Arnaktauyok for these and similar stories.) There are also several line drawings of Inuit dress and activities such as drumming.
From Inuit Spirit: A Colouring Book 
by Germaine Arnaktauyok
The text is informative, bringing a knowledge of Inuit life and traditions to help clarify the black-and-white artwork. While the snippets are generally quite brief, the text teaches while helping the reader/colourist discern the elements of the drawing and selecting colours.

Inuit Spirit may not be graced as completely as it could be with Germaine Arnaktauyok’s own colouring version of pointillism–though there is a lengthy discussion of her style being based on squiggles of varying densities–but this colouring book brings an interactive element to her remarkable illustration and to the book’s aim of bringing the art of Inuit life to those beyond the northern areas.  Perhaps by doing rather than just seeing, readers of Inuit Spirit will achieve a new appreciation for Inuit life in general and Germaine Arnaktauyok's art specifically as defining of the northern experience.

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