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How to Build an Iglu and a Qamutiik
by Solomon Awa
illustrated by Andrew Breithaupt
reviewed by Mark Hamilton
Here’s something I’ve experienced and I’m sure many of you have as well. You’re working on a project with people who are strangers to you. By the time the project is done you know all those people and even have some new friends. Reading Solomon Awa’s book, How to Build an Iglu and a Qamutiik is very much like that. By the time you’re done reading it you feel like you know quite a bit about the author and what he’s like. I’ll tell you this about him, Solomon Awa is a patient teacher seeking to share with others the traditional knowledge he was taught.
In his book Awa provides step-by-step instructions for completing the two projects in the book’s title. Each step is broken down into a series of simple tasks. His instructions are written in short, clear sentences that instill confidence in the reader. Each step in the instructions is accompanied by one of Andrew Beithaupt’s wonderfully detailed illustrations. On occasion, for added clarity, a step such as lashing of the napooks (cross-members) to the runners of the qamutiik has multiple illustrations…something those of us who struggle with anything more complicated than a granny knot are certain to appreciate. At the end of each project the author helpfully provides us with a page titled "Tips and Tricks." This was a personal favorite of mine.
How to Build an Iglu and a Qamutiik is published with parallel English and Inuktitut texts. It is 39 generously illustrated 7.25 inches x 9.25 inch pages. Although a short book, its information fully addresses the subject matter and you learn everything you need to know to be able to competently complete these two projects.
How to Build an Iglu and a Qamutiik, by Solomon Awa and illustrated by Andrew Breithaupt; 2013; ISBN 978-1-927095-31-7; published, printed and bound in Canada by Inuit owned Inhabit Media: POB 11125, Iqaluit, Nunavut X0A 1H0 and 146A Orchard View Blvd, Toronto, Ontario M4R 1C3. It can be purchased at online retailers such as Amazon.com.
The book is identified as Volume 1 in the “Inuit Tools and Techniques Series”. Inhabit Media hopes to publish several more volumes in the series at some time in the future.