The Gnawer of Rocks by L. Flaherty
Flaherty, Louise. The Gnawer of Rocks. Illustrated by Jim Nelson. Inhabit Media, 2017.
The Gnawer of Rocks, written by Louise Flaherty and illustrated by Jim Nelson, is based on the author's memories of a story she heard as a child from an Inuk storyteller, Levi Iqalugjuaq, in Nunavut in the 1970s. The book, which feels like an incredible mix of picture book and graphic novel, focuses on a traditional story about a creature called Mangittatuarjuk and two young women who fall into her clutches.
Nelson's artwork follows the layout of a comic book, using word balloons and panel captions, which makes for an immersive reading experience following two girls who discover a trail of beautiful rocks outside of camp which lead them from the bright and colourful world of home into the increasingly dark and frightening world of Mangittatuarjuk. The book mixes Inuktitut terms throughout, but does include a glossary at the end.
The story does get both gruesome and horrific in the cave of Mangittatuarjuk, but the story, which would be great for older school children, does include a warning in the author's note. A really great introduction to traditional northern Canadian stories, the book includes an introduction for context and acknowledges the original storyteller as well as the reasons for this type of story and its likely role in the lives of children. An excellent read for children who are already comfortable with scary stories.
Highly recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Kirk MacLeod
Kirk MacLeod is the Open Data Team Lead for the Government of Alberta’s Open Government Portal. A Life-Long reader, he moderates two book clubs and is constantly on the lookout for new great books!
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