In a time in the past…when one language was spoken by human and animal…magic happened.
Title: Magic Words
Author: Vanita Oelschlager
Translator: Edward Field
Illustrator: Mike Blanc
ISBN: 9780983290469 Language: English
Themes: legend, beginnings, Inuit culture
What’s it about?
This is a retelling of an Inuit oral tradition. It tells of a time when humans and animals all spoke one language and how they could become one another. How words spoken on purpose or by chance could bring change.
Mike Blanc = my new favourite illustrator! Yes, the illustrations are gorgeous – they’re colourful, engaging and fill the page (no white spaces here!). Most of all these illustrations are in a style that suits the story.
Another thing to love is the short sentences. The words are few but the meaning is big. Easy to read and understand.
Small criticism but it annoyed me to no-end – the typeface used – the y is back to front…Sorry, just can’t move past that!
Okay, backwards y aside, this is a really beautiful book: not just in pictures but in words. I do love to read traditional stories from other cultures but they are not the easiest books to get hold of and don’t seem to get the publicity that bigger name authors do for more ‘generic’ stories.
This isn’t a story in the sense of having a beginning, middle, and end. In fact, you are very likely to get to the final page and wonder: Is that it? Really? But….. Here in, for me at least, lies the true potential of this book. It makes you stop and think. Your mind is busy making connections with knowledge and text…but you end up going back and reading it again, and again.
This book has two main potential classroom uses: literacy and art.
Literacy this is about how traditional stories differ in structure to what they would be more familiar with. This is an oral tradition from the Inuit people however I can already see how I could use it in conjunction with traditional Aboriginal stories from here in Australia and draw parallels with the magic elements. There are common threads – just differing representations. Also, this is a very low-key book when it comes to struggling readers; a range of vocabulary but without paragraphs to become overwhelming.
From an art perspective this book is like a candy store. You could have students illustration a sentence from the book. Study Inuit culture and artwork and convey learning in a report…so many ideas in my head I think I’d better start a Teaching Ideas page for this one…stay tuned…will link to this page when ready!