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
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.
Oxford University Press
‘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
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