Reviewed by Jean Mendoza
A while back, Victoria J Coe tweeted that Teresa Peterson’s Grasshopper Girl is a “huggable book.” What a great descriptor — some books are just that! And we need those, in these strange times when hugging people we love can actually be dangerous.
Another example of a book you might want to hug is In My Anaana’s Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok (Inuit). It offers peaceful illustrations of an adorable baby in snuggly situations, with loving word-images about the comfort and joy of being carried and cared for. What’s more huggable than that?
The book begins with a two-page illustration of a child’s hand reaching toward a large sun that shines brightly over an Arctic landscape (by Lenny Lischenko, not Native) and these words:
In my anaana’s amautik, I feel warm. The warmth of her skin feels like sunshine, keeping me safe from the cold. I love being in my anaana’s amautik.
“Amautik”, pronouced “a-MOW-tick,” is defined in the brief glossary as “a pouch in the back of a woman’s parka where a baby can be carried”.
Every page of text begins with the words “In my Anaana’s amautik,” followed by sensory images of something the child loves to do, and ends with “my Anaana’s amautik.” That repetition makes it easy for toddlers or preschoolers to chime in when their adult pauses there in reading, once they’re familiar with the book.
Some of the imagery is rooted in a specific environment: “Her breathing feels like ocean waves gently rolling in and out.” But many images have a more universal feel, and are always linked to the natural world: “Her scent reminds me of flowers in the summertime.” It’s a love poem, really, about caregivers and their little ones. Continue reading.
In My Anaana's Amautik by Nadia Sammurtok
Published by Inhabit Media Incorporated on May 3, 2022
Genres: American Indians First Nations Metis Inuit
Reading Level: Early Childhood
Review Source: American Indians in Children's Literature
Publisher's Synopsis: The far north has never felt so deliciously warm. — Kirkus Reviews Readers will carry this gorgeous book close to their hearts. — School Library Journal Just right for bedtime, it's an intimate tale that celebrates simple warmth and comfort. — Publishers Weekly
Nadia Sammurtok lovingly invites the reader into the amautik — the pouch in the back of a mother's parka used to carry a child — to experience everything through the eyes of the baby nestled inside, from the cloudlike softness of the pouch to the glistening sound of Anaana's laughter. Sweet and soothing, this book offers a unique perspective that will charm readers of all ages.