Labrador’s unique geology and a chapter of its traditional lore come together in a new children’s book that has just been published by the Labrador Institute and funded through International Polar Year.
The Polar Bear in the Rock: Two Windows on the World is based on an Inuit legend about a rock formation in Nain.
The book has been a pet project of the institute for months and has been met with favourable reviews since its official launch earlier this spring.
The end product is thanks to a team effort, said Martha MacDonald, the institute’s associate director, education, who has helped head up the publication.
Two students from Nunatsiavut, who had taken folklore courses from Ms. MacDonald, were hired to collected several versions of the story. The institute then recruited the help of acclaimed author Janet McNaughton, a PhD and master’s graduate of Memorial’s folklore department, to collate the legends and weave them together as a narrative.
Dr. Derek Wilton of the earth sciences department wrote the geology portions of the publication, while Cynthia Colosimo, an artist from Forteau, did the illustrations.
“The idea was to show children in Labrador what geology is by looking at a particular rock formation and explaining it from the perspective of a geologist, and also giving the traditional explanation through a legend which is still told in Nain,” said Ms. MacDonald.
The book, which has been translated into Inuktitut, has been launched throughout the province including Nain, Hopedale, Happy Valley-Goose Bay and St. John’s.
Ms. MacDonald said the publication takes readers on their own geological journey while also preserving a portion of Labrador’s past.
“It was important to us at the Labrador Institute to give equal weight to these two ways of seeing the world,” she noted. “Seeing the children in Nain and Hopedale pay close attention to the story and then pass around pieces of anorthosite while the book was read aloud in Inuktitut showed us that the book was not only a pleasure to those of us involved in producing it, but also to the audience for whom we created it.”
The Polar Bear in the Rock: Two Windows on the World can be ordered through the Labrador Institute by calling 709-896-6213 or e-mailing Ms. MacDonald. It costs $15 plus tax.