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  • The Idea of North in Canadian Children’s Literature Today
  • Björn Sundmark (bio)
Bastedo, Jamie. Sila’s Revenge. Toronto: Red Deer, 2010. 320 pp. $14.95 pb. ISBN 978-0889954229. Print.
Bastedo, Jamie. On Thin Ice. Toronto: Red Deer, 2006. 176 pp. $14.95 pb. ISBN 978-0889953376. Print.
Bedesky, Baron. Peary and Henson: The Race to the North Pole. St. Catharines: Crabtree, 2006. 32 pp. $10.95 pb. ISBN 978-0778724629. Print.
Bell, Joanne. Juggling Fire. Victoria: Orca, 2009. 171 pp. $12.95 pb. ISBN 978-1554690947. Print.
Chartier, Daniel. Norđur. Illus. Ólöf Gerour Sigfúsdóttir. Montreal: P de l’U du Québec, 2009. 48 pp. $15.00 pb. ISBN 978-2760523968. Print.
Crawford, Laura. In Arctic Waters. Illus. Ben Hodson. Mount Pleasant: Sylvan Dell, 2007. 36 pp. $15.95 hc. ISBN 978-1934359341. Print.
Guiberson, Brenda Z. Life in the Boreal Forest. Illus. Gennady Spirin. Toronto: Groundwood, 2009. 32 pp. $18.95 format hc. ISBN 978-0805077186. Print.
Harrison, Ted. A Northern Alphabet. Toronto: Tundra, 2009. 32 pp. $9.99 pb. ISBN 978-0887769603. Print.
Hodge, Deborah. Who Lives Here? Polar Animals. Illus. Pat Stephens. Toronto: Kids Can, 2008. 24 pp. $14.95 hc. ISBN 978-1554530441. Print.
Jocelyn, Marthe. Ready for Winter. Toronto: Tundra, 2008. 16 pp. $8.99 hc. ISBN 978-0887768484. Print.
Kusugak, Michael. The Littlest Sled Dog. Illus. Vladyana Krykorka. Victoria: Orca, 2008. 32 pp. $19.95 hc. ISBN 978-1554691746. Print.
Pasquet, Jacques. Mon île blessée. Illus. Marion Arbona. Montreal: Isatis, 2009. 32 pp. $13.95 pb. ISBN 978-2923234540. Print.
Polak, Monique. The Middle of Everywhere. Victoria: Orca, 2009. 204 pp. $12.95 pb. ISBN 978-1554690909. Print.
Rivera, Raquel. Tuk and the Whale. Toronto: [End Page 152] Groundwood, 2008. 88 pp. $15.95 hc, $8.95 pb. ISBN 978-0888996893, 978-0888998910. Print.
Service, Robert. The Cremation of Sam McGee. Illus. Ted Harrison. Toronto: Kids Can, 2006. 32 pp. $19.95 hc. ISBN 978-1554530922. Print.
Teevee, Ningeokuluk. Alego. Toronto: Groundwood, 2009. 28 pp. $17.95 hc. ISBN 978-0888999436. Print.
Wallace, Mary. I is for Inuksuk: An Arctic Celebration. Toronto: Maple Tree, 2009. 32 pp. $19.95 hc. ISBN 978-1897349571. Print.
Zeman-Spaleny, Linda. Lord of the Sky. Illus. Ludmila Zeman. Toronto: Tundra, 2009. 28 pp. $21.99 hc. ISBN 978-0887768965. Print.

“What on earth is the point of a bear in a story?”

—Monique Polak (35)

Because Canada and Sweden are both northern countries, it is no coincidence that the art, literature, culture, and self-perceptions of both countries are to some extent coloured by notions of what it means to live in a northern country. The Canadian national anthem, for instance, invokes a “True North strong and free” in its English version; correspondingly, the Swedish national anthem uses “the north” as a metonym for Sweden in phrases like “I want to live and die in the North.” This use of the north in both national anthems is evocative of manliness, rugged nature, strength, individualism, and freedom—qualities that presumably are meant to stand in sharp contrast to the feminized, over-civilized, and weak tyranny of “the south.” The idea of north and its manifestations are of course much more varied and complex, however, than can be gathered from lyrics such as “O Canada” and “Thou Ancient, Thou Free.” They can represent life-defeating barrenness and cold, can be feminine and evil like Hans Christian Andersen’s “Snow Queen” or C. S. Lewis’s white witch of Narnia, and can also—from the perspective of the majority—denote the Other: the Inuit and the Sami.

Not only do the national anthems draw on the assumed qualities of the north, but also the attributes of patriotism and good citizenship that are invoked by their nationalist context are associated with the idea of northernness. By implication, activities that are typical for a northern clime can become “nationalized.” The Norwegian anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen has noted, for instance, that “the activity of skiing [in school] makes the children more Norwegian,” whereas [End Page 153] skiing in Italy does not make you more Italian (109). In Sweden, too, the long-distance skiing event Vasaloppet is...


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