Recommended Reading from 2011

 

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'Don't go looking for Antarctica without this book.' - Susan Solomon

 

 

Máze

Céline Clanet

Photolucida
Hardback, 80pages
ISBN: 978-1-934334-09-6
Price: US$40.00

 

A beautiful book landed on my desk this summer. A book without words. Each page carried a single colour photograph. Captions were not necessary as the photos spoke for themselves.

Photographer and graphic designer Céline Clanet is driven by a passion to record a lifestyle that is fast vanishing due to global warming and cultural integration. The Sami (Lapland) village of Máze captured her heart, compelling her to return several times between 2005 and 2009 to this remote area that lies beyond the Arctic Circle in Norway.

The incongruous mixture of traditional Sami and modern Western dress are the most obvious signs of accepted change, together with snowmobiles, cigarettes and of course alcohol. Wooden houses as one might expect, with fitted kitchens that would not be misplaced in the city. A handcarved wooden mug on the table. Cleanliness and tidyness everywhere. All the accoutrements of a contemporary Western home. This juxtaposed with the shock of blood on the pure white snow. Vast landscapes that would seem barren to Westerners but are in fact the livelihood of these indigenous peoples. Reindeer by the thousands. Man controlling and controlled by the natural world. Subsistance living still the essence of their being.

There are some words. Just at the very end, by which time the reader would have had time to make their own interpretation. And likely be in a tranquil and contemplative state of mind. Well done Céline.

The publisher, Photolucida of Portland, Oregon, is an arts non-profit organisation whose mission is to increase the understanding of the world through photography. The author lives in Paris and her work has been exhibited throughout Europe and Scandinavia.

 

The White Darkness

Geraldine McCaughrean

Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978-0-19-272618-6
Price: £5.99


‘I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now,’ begins 14-year-old Symone, ‘which is ridiculous, since he’s been dead for ninety years.’ Oates being the sole military man on Captain Scott’s legendary last expedition to the South Pole, where in 1911 they died alongside their colleagues Bowers, Birdie and Evans.

A bit of a misfit, Sym is taken by her eccentric Uncle Victor on a ‘holiday’ to Antarctica, and only once they’re there does she realise that the holiday was a pretext for something entirely different. This she has to discover for herself, though with some help from her imaginary friend. And there are plenty of dangers along the way.

The story unfolds in a most imaginative way, with little clue as to what is going to happen next. Author Geraldine McCaughrean has won several prizes for her work in children’s fiction, including the Whitbread Children’s Book Award three times. I would certainly be happy for my child to read this book and to learn about the most important event in the history of Polar exploration.

 

Reviews by S. G. Servian

 

 

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