Since I started working at the local children’s bookstore, Kaleidoscope Kids Books, here in Ottawa, I have had the pleasure of discovering and uncovering fabulous local authors and Canada only publishers. Inhabit Media was one of my finds. Since this month is “getting real” or “realistic stories,” (however you’d like to define that) I thought it would be a great time to bring up Inhabit and their work to preserve and share the culture of Northern Canada.
Inhabit Media is an Inuit owned publishing company and the first independent publisher in the North of Canada, their head office is located on Baffin Island in Iqaluit – AND they are currently only accepting manuscripts from writers living in Nunavut – which gives this publishing house such an interesting and important niche of stories to tell.
With their start in 2006, Inhabit is still a fairly new publishing company, thought they at first only published one or two titles a year that has increased to more than 10 titles in a year giving them a hefty backlist of over 120 books many of which are translated into multiple languages (English, French and Inuktitut).
At Kaleidoscope I have had the pleasure of flipping through many of their works and I was genuinely surprised that the quality of their publications is astounding – I would say their picturebooks, particularly the more recent ones, could rival Simply Read Books with their mythic texts and spellbinding images.
These picturebooks range from the simple story of Sweetest Kulu which talks about how the Inuit bless a new baby, it a sweet and simply text full of lovely nature imagery, to The Shadows that Run Past which is a set of folk tales that are a little chilling (no pun intended) but told by the accomplished Rachel A. Qitsualik. Rachel, who writes many of Inhabit’s books, has a great voice for storytelling and is a joy to read.
Inhabit also publishes longer works for children – most recently Skraelings by Rachel Qitsualik and her husband Sean. This books immediately captured my attention – I mean, look at the cover! It promises so much action!
The cover does not disappoint, this is an action packed book that I would say is aimed at teen of 12+. It is told through the point of view of Kannujaq, who is steeped in Inuit culture but still very open to new experiences and learning about the outside world. In this way Kannujaq is a very compelling character because us readers can both learn from him and learn how someone from outside our own culture views and learns about something new – and it’s not a negative view but a perspective full of curiosity and intelligence.
One of the things that I was particularly drawn to, as some of you might know is one of my pet loves, was the landscape in Skraelings. Perhaps this is what draws me to so many of Inhabit Media’s works – I just love that the land has it’s own character, it’s own space and voice and relationship with the people. Nature is so important in so many of these books, and I think nature is lacking in popular picturebooks which often depict figures like Scaredy Squirrel, an unrealistic (albeit charming and hilarious) squirrel that really is standing in for the child figure. Where mainstream culture often manipulates nature, the books that Inhabit produces work within and with nature and it’s realities and mythos. In Skraelings, this was particularly interesting and something that I may draw on further in a longer blog post 😉
For now I really just want to leave you with Inhabit Media — a new and wonderful Canadian publishing house whose aim is to share and bridge cultures across Canada. Their books are often available in English, French, and Inuktitut. I encourage you to check out their website and their books, they truly are beautifully rendered and told.
Inhabit Media: http://inhabitmedia.com/
Children’s Books: http://inhabitmedia.com/books/children/
If you happen to be an author living in Nunavut, check out their submissions guidelines: http://inhabitmedia.com/contact/
Written by: Stephanie Dror