Kugaaruk elder publishes third children’s book
‘The Little Folk’ tells tale of young Inuk boy adopted by inugarulliit
Kugaaruk elder Levi Illuitok still remembers the countless stories he was told growing up more than 70 years ago.
Reached by phone last week, Illuitok, 82, said his new children’s book, The Little Folk, is the continuation of a long tradition.
The stories, he said in Inuktitut through an interpreter, came to him from his ancestors and were kept alive through telling and retelling through the generations.
His daughter-in-law, Jeannie Illuitok, who provided interpretation for the interview, said “he has lots and lots of stories” to tell.
The Little Folk is Levi Illuitok’s third book and a lighthearted departure from his previous projects.
His first two books took on darker subjects: Ahiahia the Orphan is the story of an Inuk orphan raised by his grandmother after his parents are murdered, while The Amajurkjuk is a traditional story about a father saving his son from an ogress that steals children.
In his new book, the inugarulliit — the little folk from the title — are legendary figures no more than shin-bone high that have adopted an Inuk boy. The story takes the reader on a polar bear hunt.
Even with his size, which gives him an immediate advantage over his adoptive community, the boy has much to learn about the ways and magic of his inugarulliit parents.
Levi Illuitok started recording the legends swirling around in his memory two years ago after he was approached by Neil Christopher, an author and managing partner at Inhabit Media.
Christopher felt there was a dearth of local stories from the Kugaaruk region, according to Jeannie Illuitok.
To bring the story to life, illustrator Steve James filled the book with images of vibrant blue skies contrasted by cotton candy snow and dotted with ice cream scoop igloos.
As day turns to twilight and then to night, fairy dust horizons give way to swirling phosphorescent northern lights.
James was provided extensive research to guide him in his illustrations, he said in an interview with Nunatsiaq News.
“Keeping these traditions alive [is] of great importance,” he said.
This is third book James has worked on that comes from Kugaaruk. He said it’s great to be part of producing the book, “even though I’m on the other side of the world,” in England.
The illustrator usually receives one or two copies of the finished books, which he shares with his seven-year-old daughter. She brings the books to school for her fellow students to pour over.
Levi Illuitok said that as long as someone is willing to publish these stories, he’ll keep writing them.
The Little Folk is available through the Inhabit Media website.
Qujannamiik Ittuq Illuitok. I will definitely have to purchase these books.
Interesting just looking at the book.