Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with a Caribou Herd
Reviewed: July 1, 2007
By: Karsten Heuer
Publisher: Walker & Company
50 pages, $22.95
about three years since the National Film Board production of Being Caribou
began making the rounds and impressing people with the immensity of the task
Karsten Heuer and his wife, Leanne Allison, undertook when they decided to
follow the annual migration of the Porcupine Caribou Herd. Allison produced the
film along with Diana Wilson. Heuer concentrated on print and photography.
There has been an adult book, also called Being Caribou; this one is for
seen the film, I was puzzled as to how that five month trek could be distilled
into an effective combination of words and photographs within the confines of
the traditional children’s picture book. There are 60 well chosen colour
pictures in this book, carefully selected to go with the eight chapters into
which the story is divided. There is somewhat more text and a smaller font size
than one would expect in a book of these dimensions, but this is more of a
coffee table chapter book than it is a typical picture book, and one must bear
that in mind.
written the book carefully, packed it with information and some adventure, and
managed to give a good outline of the adventure he and his wife had. There is
wonder and hardship packed into these pages. The story has not been Disneyfied
at all. This couple had backpacked through the wilderness and climbed mountains
together before they took on this trek, and Heuer is very clear that it taxed
their resources to the utmost.
is also very clear in its intentions. While it is, on the one hand, a
straightforward account of the caribou migration, Heuer makes it quite clear
why they migrate the way they do and why no pattern could substitute for this
age old route. Who would have believed that the need to avoid insects would be one
of the key factors in the caribou migration? Well, anyone who has ever had to
change a tire in northern British Columbia or the Yukon, outside the boundaries
of a town and the local insect control program would have only the slightest
inkling of how bad the bug problem can get.
set this up like an adult book, with an index, a list of books and web sites a
person could look up to learn more on the subject, and has included a “How You
Can Help” plea for people to write to US legislators and encourage them to keep
the oil companies out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.