Book Review: Magic Words

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Children’s books have a special magic to them. Even as an adult, I appreciate the creativity, whimsy, heart, and unexpected beauty that these books can bring. I also love sharing the joy of stories with kids through work, and environmentally-themed ones are particularly important to me. As such, I’ll be bringing a dose of picture book wonder here on occasion through reviews, starting with Magic Words, from Vanita Books!17239243

Magic Words is not a story, but a translation (of a translation?) of an Inuit poem. The poem was recorded by a Danish explorer, Knud Rasmussen, on a voyage in the early 20th century. Edward Field then translated this and several other poems, and in 2013, Vanita Books and illustrator Mike Blanc made this child-friendly version a reality.

Magic Words is all about an idea of the beginning times, in which humans and animals were as one, and magic was a part of the world. One of the takeaway themes of the poem, that words have a power of their own, is sure to resonate with any lover of books. The idea of a culture deeply tied to the natural world is one that is deeply rooted in my heart, as well, and is exactly the sort of message I strive to share with children.

Field’s translation is light and elegant; the simplicity of the phrases draws your imagination in to fill the boundaries thrown open by well-chosen words. The real star of the book, however, is Blanc’s illustrations. They are bold, vivacious, and brimming with energy. Each page is a world unto itself, and I want to explore them all over and over again.

This book is a beautiful, entrancing introduction for kids to the world of folklore and the many rich oral traditions of Native America. I can easily see myself pulling this off the shelf regularly for storytime at work, or sharing this with young people in my own family one day!


All in All…

  • 5/5 sea stars
  • Published September 1, 2013, by Vanita Books
  • 24 pages
  • For fans of Native American legends, animal stories, colorful artwork, imagination

I received this book free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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