Crocodiles Play.rtf by suchufp


									Crocodiles Play!

Robert Heidbreder. Illustrated by Rae Maté.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-896580-89-0.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


With eyes smeared black
To cut the glare,
The Crocs gear up
With great Croc care.
In helmets. Pads,
They dash around,
Croc-ready for their first touch down.
They’re pumped and primed
To win today.
A whistle blows.
HUP! HUP! They play—

Those crazy crocodiles readers met in <i>Crocodiles Say....</i> are back at it again. They’re all
dressed up to play what should be hockey, football, golf, basketball and other popular sports, but
they have their games all mixed up. Baseball morphs into basketball and golf into baseball, and
on it goes. Early years students will enjoy the Crocs’ absurd antics and will take pleasure in
taking the book off the library shelf.

The well thought out poems include essential vocabulary for each sport being played, which adds
to the value of the book (even if the Crocs get the game wrong). Golf-- green, rough, clubs,
course, tees; tennis– rackets, pro, court; football--helmets, pads, touchdown, whistle; baseball--
caps, shoes, mitts, bat. The colorful, cartoon-like, full-page illustrations of the toothy reptilians
add immensely to the overall fun of the book.
Ian Stewart is a early-years support teacher at David Livingstone School in Winnipeg, MB.

Learn Along With Lily.

Donna McNaughton. Illustrated by Mike Motz.
New York, NY: Raindrop Books, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $15.95 (US).
ISBN 978-0-9799677-0-2.

Subject Headings:
Children’s poetry.
Learning-Juvenile poetry.
Animals-Juvenile poetry.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*1/2 /4


With rings upon her fingers
and nail polish on her toes,
Lily looks so beautiful
everywhere so goes.

Please take care of your body
in everything you do.
You are somebody special,
and I love you!

Lily is a wide-eyed nanny goat “kid” who introduces 13 preschool topics ranging from colours to
community workers. Told entirely in rhyming verse, some concepts are not clearly presented for
the intended audience. For example, in “You can Count on Lily,” the lesson seems to be learning
to count to five. However, in the poem, a mix of number words and homonyms are highlighted in
bold: “She’s never too busy/ to sing or to play./ Try Tuesday at two o’clock/ or even today.” The
illustrations might also cause confusion. Lily is shown on a unicycle with the number one on her
shirt. A fox with the number two is balanced on her shoulders. They are holding cupcakes
numbered from 1 to 3. The other illustrations do not include numbers.
In “Do you know your opposites?” readers are asked: “The sun comes up each morning/ and
goes down every night./ The world is always turning - but is it left or right?” The cartoon
illustrations show Lily waking up and going to bed, but the position of the sun remains in almost
the same place.

Manners and socialization skills are also promoted. Lily’s anthropomorphized appearance is
described in “Everybody has a Body.” She has “two eyes to see,/ a cute nose underneath,/ two
ears to help her listen,/ and a smile of clean, white teeth.” The message of acceptance is plainly
stated: “In some ways we look different,/ but we’re pretty much the same.”

Interspersed throughout are short narrative pieces, including “Lily’s Rodeo” and “Feeding time
at the Zoo.” These fun vignettes are told with humour and imagination. While the book is
intended to be used as a educational tool, the entries that are the most successful are the ones that
do not try to instruct.

Not recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON

The Promise.

Kathleen Helen Strom. Illustrated by Donna Assié.
Flin Flon, MB: Lighthouse Publications (397 Kingsway Blvd., MBR8A 0L6), 2007.
32 pp, pbk., $12.00 (plus postage).
ISBN 978-0-9735075-9-1.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4


Quack           Quack           Quack
         Mother mallard said
        To eight little ducklings
         Resting on the shore
           “Promise me
         Be good and stay together
        Like we have done before.”
<i>The Promise</i> begins and ends with a promise. In the first instance (as shown in the
excerpt), it is mother mallard who is asking her brood of eight ducklings to stay together while
she flies off, and at the book’s conclusion she promises that, when autumn comes,:

   We’ll fly away
   Far, Far away
   Into the Autumn sun

Initially, the ducklings are concerned because it seems their mother has never left them entirely
alone before, but soon fatigue overcomes them and they huddle together while falling asleep.
When they awaken, some time has elapsed, and their concern of abandonment reemerges.
However, while keeping in mind the promise they made their mother, the octet go in search of
food. When the west wind warns them that “your mother is coming home,” they scurry ashore.
Upon mother’s returns, she praises them for keeping their promise, and then she makes the
book’s closing promise.

The bond between a parent and child, whether human or anthropomorphized animals, is a staple
of literature for young children, and it is quite difficult to come up with a new take on this oft-
used theme. Consequently, Strom does not break any new ground. Like many novice writers for
the young, Strom uses poetry, a literary form that presents the writer with the challenge of telling
a story while maintaining the poetry’s rhythm and rhyme scheme, usually at some cost to both
the story and the poetry.

One device that Strom uses is that of introducing each pair of facing pages (with the exception of
the last pairing) with the repetition of a sound (see excerpt above). While young listeners will
pick up on this sound pattern and will likely join in during repeated listenings/readings, Strom is
not entirely consistent. Though words like <i>quack</i>, <i>peep</i>, <i>flap</i>,
<i>blink</i>, <i>splash</i>, <i>flip</i>, <i>bubble</i>, <i>ripple</i>, <i>whish</i> and even
<i>kiss</i> (a wonderfully descriptive word for waves gently lapping at a shore) three others,
<i>tick</i>, <i>clap</i> and <i>quick</i> just don’t work. Before someone protests that
<i>tick</i> and <i>clap</i> are sounds, their use doesn’t fit the context. Nature has its own units
of time, and the ticking of humans’ clocks is not one of them. Likewise, ducks don’t <i>clap</i>,
and it requires the insertion of two young children by illustrator Assié to give this word meaning.
This juvenile pair only appear twice in the book, and their connection to the storyline remains

Generally, Strom has treated her ducks in a limited anthropomorphic fashion, restricting them to
conversing among themselves while engaging in typical duck behaviours. Consequently, it is
jarring when Strom slips and has them chuckling, a most unduck-like activity. Likewise,
illustrator Assié portrays the ducks as the creatures of the wild they are, but she, too, slips when
she places a face on a talking west wind. An editor also needed to pay more attention to
punctuation and the appropriate use of upper case letters.

Though the book’s setting could be almost anywhere that mallards nest, the text’s mention of
Schist Lake locates the book in Manitoba near the community of Flin Flon. Generally, Assié’s
illustrations capture the wild northern Manitoba setting with its mixed coniferous and deciduous
forests and swamp-like lake shorelines. Her illustration of the leaping northern pike and the
hunting eagle is particularly effective as is that of the snuggling duckling pair on the
<i>Blink</i> page.

<i>The Promise</i> could be added to collections needing additional child/parent bonding

Recommended with reservations.

Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is <i>CM</i>’s editor.

Merry Christmas, Little Mouse.

Dugald Steer. Illustrated by Caroline Anstey.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1995.
20 pp., board, $14.99.
ISBN 0-439-93929-1.

Subject Headings:
Mice-Juvenile fiction.
Christmas-Juvenile fiction.
Grandparents-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Min So.

**½ /4


Little Mouse was getting ready for Christmas. She hung up her stocking and wrapped her
presents. She was looking forward to seeing Gran and Grandpa, who were coming to visit on
Christmas Day. The only thing missing was snow.

This book, like its fuzzy cover, makes you feel the warmth of Christmas. Little Mouse thinks
everything is perfect for the holiday season except for the lack of snow. She wishes hard for
snow, and her wish comes true. But the problem now is that it snows so hard that her Gran and
Grandpa may not make it to her house for Christmas dinner. What is Little Mouse to do?

The story captures the excitement and anticipation of Christmas while realistically relaying the
fears of a child when things do not go as planned. However, the story is weakest at its climax
when her friends, Little Robin, Little Sparrow, Little Fox, and Little Squirrel, magically appear
out of nowhere to save the day.

The essence of Christmas joy shines through in the illustrations with their festive colours. They
are reminiscent of Hallmark Xmas cards - very pretty and dainty. The kids will especially enjoy
feeling the pictures as some parts of them are raised. Furthermore, there are plenty of Christmas
motifs, like gingerbread men, snowflakes, and gifts, peppered throughout the book to keep them
entertained. Because of these reasons, the book is best suited for parents or caretakers to read
with a child in an intimate moment but not for group storytimes at libraries.

Though this picture storybook is gorgeous to look at and the story is decent, I think there are
other holiday classics that parents, teachers, and librarians should consider first, books like Chris
Van Allsburg’ <i>The Polar Express</i>. But who knows? <i>Merry Christmas, Little
Mouse</i> could become a child’s favourite Christmas book.


Min So is an on-call librarian at Vancouver Public Library.

Brady Brady and the Cleanup Hitters.

Mary Shaw. Illustrated by Chuck Temple.
Waterloo, ON: Brady Brady Inc. (P.O. Box 367, N2J 4A4), 2008.
32 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-1-897169-11-6.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ /4


April was a busy time of year. It was when Brady had to clean out his closet and recycle the stuff
he no longer used.

“Brady Brady, your room is a pigsty!’ His [sic] mom explained. “Time for spring clean-up.”
His mom called it spring cleanup. Brady called it a waste of time. After all, April was also the
start of the baseball season and he had better things to do. He couldn’t wait to get out to play.

In baseball, a cleanup hitter, often a team’s strongest batter, bats fourth in the lineup, and her/his
task is to “clean up the bases” by making a hit that will allow the base runners to score. However,
in <i>Brady Brady and the Cleanup Hitters</i>, the cleanup hitter term has a much more literal
and pragmatic meaning. It’s April, and sports enthusiast Brady Brady is between hockey and
baseball seasons, an ideal time, according to his mother, for him to be using the weekend to clean
up his truly messy room. While Brady is making a halfhearted start on the task, his faithful dog,
Hatrick, discovers a baseball under Brady’s bed, and the two abandon the cleaning chore to go
outdoors to play catch. With the weekend over and Brady’s bedroom still a mess, Brady heads
off to school where he’s looking forward to playing baseball on the school playground at recess,
the principal having announced that the ground was now dry enough to play on. But when Brady
and his friends reach the playground:

        There was no first base, no home base, and no pitcher’s mound. But there was a mound
        of garbage! Heaps and heaps of garbage everywhere!

Faced with not being able to play baseball, Brady comes up with a solution the next day, a
solution which leads to his classmates turning into “cleanup hitters” as they all voluntarily pitch
in to clean up the playground’s baseball diamond of its mantle of trash. And, while Brady’s still
in a cleaning mood, he even successfully tackles his own room.

When Brady initially shares with his mother his disappointment about not being able to play
baseball at recess, she reframes the garbage-covered baseball diamond situation as its being an
example of a larger global concern – “...think about how all that garbage might affect the air, the
plants, and the animals....” – and Brady echoes that same ecological concern to his classmates.
While the environmental “lesson” is valid, it is incomplete in that it does not address those who
do the littering.

Nonetheless, <i>Brady Brady and the Cleanup Hitters</i> is a delightful, quick read, one that
fans of the series will enjoy. Once again, Temple’s bright cartoon style illustrations reflect the
story’s emotions. His rendering of Brady Brady’s very messy room will definitely resonate with
many parent readers.

Highly Recommended.
Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is <i>CM’</i>’s editor.

How We Were.
Teddy Jam. Illustrated by Ange Zhang.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2008.
64 pp., hardcover, $25.00.
ISBN 978-0-88899-901-6.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

**** /4

In <i>How We Were</i>, four previously published stories by well-loved author Teddy Jam,
<i>nom de plume</i> for the late Matt Cohen, are combined in one picture book. Each story
celebrates a way of life which, although lost, is remembered in vivid detail in the voice of a
young narrator. The quartet of tales is stunningly illustrated by Ange Zhang, a gifted artist who
won the Bologna Ragazzi Award for <i>Red Land, Yellow River</i>, a memoir of growing up
during the Cultural Revolution.

In the first story, entitled “The Year of Fire,” a grandfather regales his granddaughter with a story
about a fire that lasted a whole year:

          “I could tell you a fire so big you wouldn’t believe it.”

          “I would,” I promised. My grandfather Howard always makes me promise to believe his

          “Okay, he said, the way he always does. “I’ll tell you about a fire, the biggest I ever saw,
          the biggest there ever was around here.”

In “The Stoneboat,” the second story, a boy and his brother save the life of a huge and powerful

          “Mr. Richard was his own law. He had the best land in the township and was famous for
          working it eighteen hours a day. He made more money than anyone else, then loaned it
          when others ran out of cash.

Meeting his burly neighbor picking rocks in a nearby field, the young narrator imagines himself
saying “I know my father owed you two hundred dollars. But Evan and I saved your life…”
Alas, he can’t find the moment to speak and instead picks up a shovel and helps Mr. Richardson
move a gigantic rock. In the end, as is so often the way, an act of neighborliness speaks louder
than any words.
“The Kid Line” is set in the 1930’s. A young boy listens to his father’s stories of growing up
with hockey playing brothers Charlie and Lionel Conacher. The brothers were part of the so-
called “Kid Line,” a group of talented young players who propelled the Toronto Maple Leafs to a
Stanley Cup victory in 1932. Once a bricklayer who worked on the Maple Leaf Gardens, the
narrator’s father is reduced to working as a ticket scalper outside the building he had helped
build. One never-to-be-forgotten night, the father sells a ticket to none other than Charlie
Conacher, and the boy finds himself watching the game beside the erstwhile star of the Maple
Leaf’s Kid Line.

“The Fishing Summer,” the last story in the book, is the bittersweet remembrance of a special
summer in the life of a young boy. The narrator yearns to go out fishing with his uncles.

       “No way,” my mother said. You’ll fall in and drown.”

       “I can swim,” I said.

       “You’re only eight years old,” my mother said.

That night, too excited to sleep, the young hero steals down to the boat, climbs in the cabin and
falls asleep. The uncles call him a stowaway the next morning, but they take him out into the
middle of the ocean where he experiences his first glorious day of what turns out to be his
“fishing summer.” As is the case in each story, characters and landscape are brought to life by
Zhang’s bold and bright paintings.

<i>How We Were: Four Stories</i>, by Teddy Jam, is not only a fine tribute to the ordinary
people whose courage and determination were instrumental in building this country, but also it is
a loving and nostalgic collection of stories which need to be remembered and passed on to each

Highly Recommended.

A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

The West is Calling: Imagining British Columbia.

Sarah N. Harvey & Leslie Buffam. Illustrated by Dianna Bonder.
Vitoria, BC: Orca, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-936-5.

Subject Headings:
British Columbia-History-Juvenile poetry.
Haiku, Canadian (English).
Children’s poetry, Canadian (English).

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

*** /4

Reviewed from f&g’s.

On 19 November, 1858, the mainland colony of British Columbia came into being. This year's
celebration of the 150th anniversary of that event has spurred the publication of books like
<i>The West Beyond the West</i> (Jean Barman) and Daniel Francis' <i>Far West: the Story of
British Columbia</i>.

<i>The West is Calling</i> is a picture book for the occasion, presenting snapshots of British
Columbia history which feature places and periods deemed to be of importance. Our look at
British Columbia's history begins in a Haida village and covers, among other things, the Cariboo
gold rush, the building of the railroad, Emily Carr and the spirit bear before coming back full
circle to the same native settlement in the present day.

Each spread captures one thought expressed in a few brief sentences. Thus:

         Oaks and blue lilies make way for fences and roads.

         Flags salute the wind.

are the lines superimposed over a busy scene of digging and building. In the background is a tent
village, an expanse of ocean, and a sailing ship at anchor.

The text is brief to the point of being terse, and the ideas presented are definitely only discussion
starters, not complete information. At the back of the book, there are two pages of historical
notes which do expand on the main matter. There is also a "Seek and Find" list of the details in
each picture. <i>The West is Calling</i> is the first book for both of the authors.

Illustrations by Diana Bonder, who was the artist for the British Columbia Summer Reading
Club in 2004, are mainly in blue, brown and tan, and contain humorous touches. There are a few
nods to ethnic minorities and First Nations people, but Bonder's human figures are uniformly
squat with horizontally ovoid faces.

<i>The West is Calling</i> has a place in most school and public libraries, especially in

Ellen Heaney is Head, Children's Services at the New Westminster Public Library, New
Westminster, BC.

Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip.

Tove Jansson.
Montreal, PQ: Drawn & Quarterly (Distributed by Raincoast Books), 2008.
104 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-897299-55-5.

Kindergarten-grade 5 / Ages 5-10.

Review by Suzanne Pierson.

**** /4


This looking for Martians is getting on my nerves.

If it goes on like this I’ll change jobs and become a cartoonist or something silly like that.

Unafraid to poke fun even at herself, it is no wonder that these cartoon strips by Tove Jansson,
originally published in the <i>London Evening News</i> from 1953 to 1959, remain so popular.

In this third and final volume of <i>Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip</i>, the
loveable slightly hippo-shaped Moominfamily look at the world through rose-tinted glasses.
Their adventures, told in the five full length black and white cartoon strip stories in this
collection, allow us to observe ourselves and the world around us from a different perspective.

In “Moomin in Love,” Moomin needs some counselling to reignite his relationship with
Snorkmaiden after he neglects her for the novelty of a romance with the beautiful leading lady,
La Goona.

       Can’t you sleep?
       I can’t stop thinking about you spreading a blanket over La Goona.

       But she was cold.

       That I am cold of course doesn’t matter.

       Darling, you can have my whole quilt.

       Take it away! It’s stifling here!

       [In a thought bubble] Women

Moomin eventually makes things right with the help of their friend Mymble who suggests the
need for a ‘big scene of reconciliation.’ Sound familiar?

While children will love the twists and turns of the plot lines and the humour in the drawings, it
is the adults who share these books with the children who will appreciate the wisdom that
Jansson is sharing. Pay attention to those closest to you. Don’t be afraid of others even though
they may be different. Be careful what you wish for. Appreciate what you have and don’t worry
about the rest.

Not all of Jansson’s humour is benign. Some dialogue shows the darker side of relationships.

In “Moomin and the Sea,” Snorkmaiden plays the damsel in distress to help Moomin overcome
his fears. Moomin rises to the occasion, but Snorkmaiden reveals that there was more at stake
than her safety.

       So he came anyway. I would never have forgiven him if I had to pity him still more.

Nothing, including our faith in scientific proof, is safe from Jansson’s satire. In “Moomin Valley
Turns Jungle,” the scientists rescue the Moominfamily from the cages at the zoo where they are
being held despite their protests that they are not hippopotami.

       On the strength of my scientific degrees I hereby declare Moominfamily are not remotely
       related to hippopotami!

Given that Jansson has previously made fun of the scientists’ expertise, the value of this proof is
very suspect, but, as Moominmamma says:
         At least we have it in black and white for future reference!

Jansson has been described as one of the international cartooning greats of the last century. Both
children and the adults who share these stories with them will enjoy getting to know the
Moomins, a loveable family who have everyday adventures, with a twist or two.

The final words are from Stinky, the thief.

         Oh, well, Gimme that silly tie! Indeed you are the most idiotic family I ever saw – but
         you are at least living every minute of the day!!

Highly Recommended.

Suzanne Pierson is a retired teacher-librarian, currently instructing librarianship courses at
Queen’s University in Kingston, ON.

Toby and the Mysterious Creature. (First Novels).

Jean Lemieux. Illustrated by Sophie Casson. Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2008.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-88780-759-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-88780-761-9 (hc.).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Robert Groberman.

*** /4


The class was restless. Mrs. Dasgupta was about to say “Now, children!” the way she always
does, but Merlin Higginbottom-Campari beat to it.

“Now, children!” he said, imitating her tone of voice and accent perfectly. Everyone started

We looked at Mrs. Dasgupta. She seemed to think it was pretty funny too. I don’t know how he
does it, but the walking atlas has got her wrapped around his little finger.
Jean Lemiex’s novel, translated by Sarah Cummins, tells the story of Toby, an eager eight-year-
old, who wants to win a prize by giving the best oral presentation to his class in the last week of
school. He is surprised to see that the creative presentation by the new kid, the “weird” kid,
Merlin, is as mesmerizing as it is unusual.

Lemieux introduces Merlin as a new student who has come to school near the end of the year.
Many children will identify with being the new kid in a class. The author depicts Merlin as a new
student, unaccepted by the rest of the class, who, unlike the other students, has no partner with
whom to present. What the narrator, Toby, and the rest of the class discover, all through Merlin’s
short presentation about an imaginary animal, is that Merlin is bright, creative, funny, and
interesting. In fact, he is just the kind of friend that Toby would like to have.

Sophie Casson’s illustrations, at least one per chapter, add to the overall understanding of the


Robert Groberman is a grade three teacher at Kirkbride Elementary School in Surrey, BC.

Final Faceoff. (Looney Bay All Stars; 7).

Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Sampar.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2008.
75 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-99009-7.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Stacie Edgar.

*** /4

"That was awesome," Darren said. "Doesn't it seem like ages since we played a normal game like
that, without any uninvited guests to mess things up?"

Reese smiled. Darren was right. It had been ages. During the past crazy year, the only game in
town had been coping with mysterious visitors in Looney Bay. The cause of all the trouble was a
magic golden coin Reese had found at that same rink almost one year ago. Whenever Reese
rubbed the coin, people from other times appeared! Vikings, knights, gladiators, pirates and
explorers had all shown up at one time or another. When time travelers appeared, Reese and his
pals wound up in some seriously sticky situations---even once in a battle to the death!

<i>Final Faceoff</i> is the seventh installment of the fast-paced, action-packed novels written
for young readers by award-winning author Helaine Becker. Each of the first six episodes
focuses on different historical characters who make the trip to Looney Bay in modern-day
Newfoundland. Each feisty character has some significance to Canadian history. The twist of this
series is that the time travelers take up residence in Looney Bay, and the author adeptly
intertwines them in subsequent adventures.

One year has passed since an Egyptian Pharaoh appeared. The magical coin foreshadows which
historical figure will appear next. This time, when Reese inadvertently rubs the coin, Queen
Elizabeth I appears in search of Sir Frances Drake. Coincidentally, Drake is the same figure who
is the focus of Darren's social studies project. Instead of reading about him in a flat history text,
Darren and the rest of the kids from Looney Bay are getting a hands-on history lesson. The
Queen recruits Sir Waverly and Sir Hugh, knights from episode #2, <i>Attack by Knight</i>
and, along with the pirates from the first episode, <i>Pirate Power Play!</i>, they join Drake to
battle the Spanish army. Drake teams up with fellow privateer and naval commander Martin
Frobisher to fight the Duke of Medina Sedonia. Reese, who tries throughout the Looney Bay
series to convince the violent men from history to resolve their differences peacefully, invites the
Spanish Armada ashore.

   "How about this, Dukie: Come ashore and see for yourself. If you still think you're in
   England, come back to your ship and we'll battle it out. But if you think you're in Canada,
   we'll come up with a better way to settle the problems between you and Queen Elizabeth. A
   Canadian way."

Reese's version of peaceful conflict resolution is a battle of skill through an athletic competition.
In other installments of the series, the boys and girls on Reese's team have shown the time
travelers how to resolve their differences by playing lacrosse, track and field, soccer, baseball,
and basketball. As in #1, <i>Pirate Power Play!</i> this time the young Looney Bay All Stars
play a game of hockey. Reese, Darren, and the All Stars help the Queen win over the Spaniards 8
-- 7 in a tie-breaking shoot-out.

After the game, Queen Elizabeth I and her men wish to travel back in time to England, but the
Spanish Duke and his army prefer to stay so that they may fish and play soccer. Subtly
connecting to recent events in Newfoundland's history with fishing off the Grand Banks, the
Duke promises
that his 3 000 sailors are "Good fishermen, who take care of the sea."

The Spaniards perceive that life is much better for them in modern-day Canada as opposed to
historical Spain. Darren feels that Looney Bay is already too full of time-travelers, but Reese
explains that Canada is built on the foundation of immigration. "Canada's almost always
welcomed immigrants. That's what makes us such a great country."

Reese proceeds to recount that, in all their encounters with the historical figures, the Canadian
children have taught them to get along with each other instead of being crude and violent. As
Reese tries to figure out a way to send the Queen back, she touches the magical coin and they
disappear. But the coin also changes---into a Loonie! It has a Common Loon on one side and
Queen Elizabeth II on the other. Reese, feeling that they no longer need the magic coin to keep
peace in Looney Bay, drops it like a puck onto centre ice at the arena. Reminiscent of the 2002
Winter Olympics when the Canadian icemaker buried the Loonie under centre ice, the coin
magically melts into ice and disappears.

Not only does author Helaine Becker intertwine past and recent Canadian and Newfoundland
history into the text, but the title of the series "Looney Bay" is linked to the dollar coin and
Canada's official bird. With the magical coin gone and given the title of the book, <i>Final
Faceoff</i>, the reader might think that this is the last installment of the series. Instead of going
on and on with more and more books, perhaps the author is choosing to complete the time-travel
series and have it as a seven book set. Only time will tell. The series, itself, should be a welcome
addition to any elementary school or classroom library. There is fast-paced adventure, Canadian
content, and historical figures that will entertain readers and reassure concerned parents and
teachers that children are learning as they read.

Highly Recommended.

Stacie Edgar teaches in the Winnipeg School Division and loves to share her knowledge of
sports trivia with her children and students.

Angels Inc.

Bruce McBay. Illustrated by Kim La Fave.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2008.
72 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 978-1-896580-30-2.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Robert Groberman.

* /4


Wendy and Zach worked most of the morning, shaking and mixing, bending and stretching,
reaching and leaning, brushing and rolling. They painted squares and triangles and circles, each a
different colour. “Variety is the spice of life,” said Zach.

<i>Angels Inc.</i> is author Bruce McBay’s beginner level novel which tells the story of Wendy
and Zach, two characters who seem to be 12-years-old and who decide to spend their Saturdays
helping people in their neighbourhood. Their efforts, such as helping an old lady across a street
she does not wish to cross and painting a neighbour’s old garage multiple colours when he did
not want it painted at all, are initially unsuccessful. Eventually, the two become heroes when
they stop two thieves who have been scouring the neighbourhood offering to help clean out
seniors’ garages for charity but who are, in fact, looking to steal antiques.

McBay’s setting of this story in Vancouver is the most interesting part of the book. Local
children will recognize references to Granville Island Market and to the restaurants in Point
Grey. But this is a very small audience. They story of <i>Angels Inc.</i> is simplistic and mildly
interesting. The vocabulary makes this material appropriate for eight and nine year-olds, but the
story’s climax, about thieves masquerading as charity workers, seems out of the knowledge base
of this age group.

Kim La Fave’s illustrations, included with text they illustrate and offered every three or four
pages, are detailed and add to the reader’s comprehension of the text. His early two-page
dedication page illustration which depicts Granville Island and its surrounding area is excellent.

Not recommended

Robert Groberman is a grade three teacher at Kirkbride Elementary School in Surrey, BC.

Lord of the Sky.

Linda Zeman-Spaleny. Illustrated by Ludmila Zeman.
Toronto, Tundra Books, 2009.
32 pp., hardcover, $21.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-896-5.
Subject Headings:
Indians of North America-Folklore-Juvenile literature.
Human ecology-Folklore-Juvenile literature.
Environmental protection-Folklore-Juvenile literature.
Ravens-Folklore-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Sylvia Pantaleo.

**** /4
Reviewed from Uncorrected First Pages.

At the age of 12, Linda Zeman-Spaleny immigrated to Canada with her parents from the Czech
Republic. In the front matter of the picturebook, <i>Lord of the Sky</i>, she describes her
amazement at first seeing totem poles in British Columbia. Zeman-Spaleny’s parents wanted
children around the world to know that “These glorious carved columns tell stories in wooden
pictures.” So in 1991, Ludmila Zeman and Eugen Spaleny wrote and directed the short animated
film called “Lord of the Sky.” The picturebook, <i>Lord of the Sky</i>, is based on this film.

The cover of the picturebook (I reviewed this book from an unbound, uncorrected advance copy)
communicates the cinematic origin of the story. An audience is depicted viewing a movie, and
Zeman situates viewers of the image at the back of a theatre. On the screen, framed with drawn
curtains and centered in the illustration, is projected an image of Thunderbird/Lord of the Sky in
flight. An Aboriginal boy, the child who seeks out Lord of the Sky to restore the sun to the
village, rides atop the majestic bird as it sails over the mountains. Zeman makes further reference
to the film origin of the story by including two rows of red perforations along both the top and
bottom of the image on the cover.

The story begins on the verso (left) endpage with both illustration and text. “Long, long ago,
nothing lived. Nothing could be seen.” On the recto endpage, Zeman depicts the Great Raven
bringing Sun to the coast of the North Pacific. Further illustrations on the front matter pages
show images of contemporary Vancouver and totem poles along the ocean shore.

According to legend, a young West Coast Aboriginal boy admired and befriended the ravens.
However, these black-feathered creatures were not always well mannered, and one day some
village members decided to teach the ravens a lesson for their misbehaviour. A group of boys
began throwing stones at the birds, but when none were successful in striking their targets, the
boys changed weapons. Before the boy could stop his peers, an arrow pierced the heart of a
raven. Deadly silence ensued; “rustling black wings filled the sky” and the land became dark.
The wise elder explained to his people: “The raven is our brother. Without sun, there can be no
life!” The only creature that could help the village was Lord of the Sky, but none of the men
were willing to seek out his assistance.

The boy slipped away from his village, launched his canoe onto the sea and began his journey to
find Lord of the Sky. Exhausted from paddling, the boy fell asleep, and when he awoke, he
discovered that his canoe had been tossed onto a rocky shore. He heard the chirping of a young
bird, and although his action was dangerous, he climbed a rocky tower to return the fledgling to
its nest. Just as he reached his destination, an enormous bird landed on the nest and spoke to him.
Even though the humans had behaved foolishly, the gigantic spirit bird agreed to help the boy
because he had demonstrated courage and kindness. The boy rode upon the back of Lord of the
Sky, and the giant bird used his powers to return sunlight to the village.

Although the parable transports readers to a time long ago, Zeman-Spanley connects the story’s
environmental message to our contemporary world by reminding readers at the end of the book
that, as in the past, our world needs to be cared for. The final illustration features a group of
contemporary children admiring a young bird. The children, who are in the centre of the
illustration, are framed by totem poles on each side and by a city image in the background. The
didactic ending may affect some readers’ enjoyment of the picturebook, but, considering current
environmental issues such as global climate change, Zeman-Spanley’s ecological message
deserves repeating.

Zeman’s artistic media include pencil, coloured pencil and watercolours on paper. Various warm
and earth-toned colours are used effectively at the beginning of the book to depict aspects of the
landscape, the people’s clothing and the presence of the sun. She skillfully changes the lighting
in the illustrations to communicate meaning. The colour black is used extensively in Zeman’s
artwork – at times communicating the unknown, such as when the world was beginning, and at
other times, communicating fear, such as when the land becomes dark following the death of the
raven. The black is highly saturated, which further symbolizes intensity and strength. Black is
used extensively in the overall layout of the book as well. The artwork is framed by black
borders both at the top and at the bottom of each page. However, each illustration, itself, is
bordered by perforations, again communicating the film origin of the story. The layout of the
book varies – some pages have one illustration and the white font text is placed below the
illustration. Other pages have two horizontal images with the text printed between the two
perforated images, and one page has no text. The colours of the perforations vary throughout the
book, and each colour change is symbolic. For example, when the sun is shining, the perforations
are light yellow, communicating warmth and sunlight, but when the raven is killed, the
perforations become vibrant red, communicating blood, anger and danger at this point in the
story. However, red is used again to colour the perforations at the end of the story, this time
communicating something different to readers. Other symbolic details in the illustrations include
the image of the sun being transformed to a skull when the ravens punish the humans for their
actions. The beautifully rendered artwork is a visual delight and deserves careful viewing – I
have discussed only a few aspects in this review, but readers are encouraged to further consider
Zeman’s use of colour, as well as line, space and perspective.

Ludmila Zeman has authored and illustrated other books including the <i>Gligamesh</i> and
<i>Sinbad</i> trilogies, and <i>The First Red Maple Leaf</i>.

Highly Recommended.
Sylvia Pantaleo is a language arts professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of
Victoria in Victoria, BC.

Animals at the Edge: Saving the World’s Rarest Creatures.

Jonathan Baillie & Marilyn Baillie.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids Books, 2008.
48 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (hc).
ISBN 978-1-897349-33-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897349-32-8 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Rare animals-Juvenile literature.
Endangered species-Juvenile literature.
Wildlife conservation-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Janice Foster.

**** /4


Yangtze River Dolphin

Today, there is a huge mystery about them. Are there any Yangtze River dolphins still living in
the river? A recent search failed to find even one. Scientists are hopeful that a few are hiding in
the vast and murky river. They are the only representative left from an entire family of mammals.

Endangered animals proves to be a topic of interest to all young readers. <i>Animals at the
Edge</i> introduces its audience to some of the rarest creatures that are threatened with
extinction and discusses what currently is being done by the EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct &
Globally Endangered) program. This program by the Zoological Society of London focuses on
some of the most unusual, threatened species. These strange creatures, unique in how they look
and behave, are irreplaceable and are heading to extinction. Unlike other books about
endangered animals, <i>Animals at the Edge</i> provides more than basic information on each
animal. It explains to the reader what is being done to promote the survival of these threatened
species and introduces firsthand accounts of the scientists and their pursuit of saving the Earth’s
global diversity.

The unusual, almost computer animated creature on the cover of <i>Animals at the Edge</i>, a
long-eared jerboa from Mongolia, is one of 11 fascinating animals featured in the book. Authors
Jonathan and Marilyn Bailey present young readers with a simple presentation of evolutionary
unique animals at the brink of extinction. The book is formatted to provide a two-page spread on
each animal. This layout includes three or four paragraphs that briefly introduce the animal, a
first person account entitled ‘Meet the Scientist’ highlighting the scientific work being done to
promote the animal’s survival as well as fabulous, colourful photographs, field notes from
three scientists and ‘Did You Know? ‘ text bubbles with fascinating facts about the animal. The
three introductory chapters explain the purpose of the book, modern day extinction and the role
of scientists in saving threatened and rare species from destruction. A map showing the location
of these 11 rare creatures, a glossary, index and information on the EDGE program are found at
the end of the book.

<i>Animals at the Edge</i> provides young readers and researchers with a different take on the
topic of endangered animals. Not only are readers introduced to 11 unknown and unusual
species, they are also introduced to young, enthusiastic scientists. In the scientists’ first person
accounts, readers discover what inspires young people to become involved in a scientific
program like EDGE. Although the information on each animal is brief and perhaps insufficient
for a research project, the EDGE program’s website, , provides
additional facts on each animal as well as hundreds of other species. The colourful design, the
weird and fascinating creatures and the human connection between scientist and reader make
<i>Animals at the Edge</i> a great addition to personal and library collections.

Highly Recommended.

Janice Foster is a recently retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.

Meet Manitoba’s Children’s Authors.

M. D. Meyer.
Norway House, MB: Goldrock Press (Box 1185, R0B 1B0), 2008.
79 pp., hardcover, $29.95.
ISBN 978-0-9782127-6-6.

Subject Headings:
Authors, Canadian (English)-Manitoba-Biography.
Children’s literature, Canadian (English)-Manitoba.
Children-Books and reading-Manitoba.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.
*** /4


When Larry Verstraete was nine years old, he asked for a printing press for Christmas. His
parents thought he was joking and it wasn’t until he asked again the following Christmas that
they bought him the toy printing press that enabled him to launch his “community newspaper.”
Though, as Larry recalls, the entire project lasted only about a week, “I think it set me on the
course to becoming a writer. The excitement of tracking down stories, the thrill of putting words
to paper – is the same kind of excitement I feel today whenever I do research and start writing a
new story.”

<i>Meet Manitoba Children’s Authors</i> provides two page “profiles” of 37 Manitoba authors
who write for children and/or adolescents. While the book’s subjects are arranged alphabetically,
Meyer does so by the unusual approach of using their given name rather than by the more
common practice of alphabetizing by surname. Consequently, the book begins with Angela
Narth and concludes with Rob Keough, Those readers who do want a surname listing can find it
on the book’s dust jacket back cover, with the authors listed from France Adams to Eva
Wiseman (though Buffie and Brooks and Sydor and Smid are reversed). Three of the volume’s
authors have written books that are available only in French, and one of these entries, that of
René Ammann, is written entirely in French. The authors range from newcomers, like KC
Oliver, Eleanor Chornoboy and Gabriele Goldstone, to the well-established, writers such as
Margaret Buffie, Martha Brooks and Linda Holeman.

In her “Introduction,” Meyer says that “the goal of this book is to inspire the youth of Manitoba
to consider a career as an author.”

Another paragraph within the introduction describes the entries’ contents.

        Profiles are geared towards students, with an author’s earliest memories of writing, their
        favourite books as a child, and advice to young writers. There is also a description and
        cover photo of the author’s newest release and a list of their other books. Writing
        activities are included that will encourage children to creatively explore the craft of
        writing. A photo and “fun facts” about each author will help students identify with the
        person whose work they are reading.

Meyer’s introduction needed to go further though and explain the criteria that were used to select
the authors for inclusion as there are missing authors, including Rhian Brynjolson, Deborah
Froese, Margaret Shaw-MacKinnon and Kady Macdonald Denton (admittedley, Kady no longer
lives in Manitoba, but most of her books were created while she was still a Manitoban). Meyer
also needed to explain how the material for the book was gathered. Did she interview her
subjects, or did she send them a questionnaire? It appears that the latter approach was likely used
as the writing style of the entries ranges widely, from that which would be accessible to children
in grade three to that in which the vocabulary and sentence structure are at a much more
sophisticated level.

In her introduction, Meyer said that each entry contained “a list of their [the individual author’s]
other books” [Note: the list contains only the books’ titles and dates of publication]; however,
Joe McLellan’s entry lists only those books he coauthored with his wife, Matrine, and Beatrice
Culleton Mosionier’s listing omits both <i>In Search of April Raintree</i> and <i>April
Raintree</i}, the abridged school edition (though the former title is cited in the “Just for fun...”
section) while Carol Matas’s entry is missing numerous titles

Despite the introduction’s claim that each author’s entry contains “Fun Facts,” such is not
entirely true. However, most do, and young readers will garner such interesting tidbits as the fact
that Anita Daher’s thumbs and knees bend backwards, Rachelle Pomfrey likes cheese and jam
sandwiches, and Joe McLellan donated his 19-inch-long braid to “Locks of Love.” The “writing
activities” vary in their creativity, and they range from the rather bland suggestion that readers
visit an author’s website to the more creative idea of making one’s own bannock, which, while
not a writing activity in itself, could lead to readers’ writing about the experience. An interesting
feature is that each entry contains a way for young readers to contact the author. In some cases,
the route is just via a web site, but in most a snail or email address is provided. One thing that
does come through in reading all of the book’s entries is that many of the authors recall being
greatly encouraged by a teacher’s positive feedback on a school writing assignment.

The page design for each of the facing page entries is quite clean, and the paper used is of
sufficient weight that the full-colour photos of the authors and the covers of their most recent
books reproduce exceptionally well. The book does contain a few annoying grammar errors
(principally the objective form “her” being used when it should be “she”) a misspelling of Viorst
(p. 26), while more attention needed to paid to punctuation, especially the use of the comma.

Since books by Manitoba’s authors for children are read beyond the province’s borders, <i>Meet
Manitoba’s Children’s Authors</i> merits a national audience. Because the vast majority of the
authors in <i>Meet Manitoba’s Children’s Authors</i> write for early and/or middle school
students, the work will have limited relevance to senior years students.


Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is <i>CM’</i>’s editor.

Fiendish Deeds. (The Joy of Spooking; Bk #1).

P. J. Bracegirdle.
New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Distributed in Canada by Simon & Schuster
Canada), 2008.
215 pp., hardcover, $16.99.
ISBN 978-1-4169-3416-5.

Subject Headings:
Endangered species-Fiction.
Brothers and sisters-Fiction.
Mystery and detective stories.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Brianne Grant.

***½ /4

True, Spooking was a bit rundown. The looming ornamented houses, no longer fashionable, were
mostly left to fall in on themselves these days. The remainder of the town was no better, really.
Once a lush landscaped arboretum, the rambling park off the boulevard had become a neglected
mess of tangled woods and cascading ponds dripping brown liquid into each other. The red brick
library stood locked and lifeless, its vast collection of books gathering dust inside. The children’s
playground looked like a wreckage of some old bomber shot out of the sky. Across from the
playground, the high walls of the Spooking Asylum blocked not only the view but even the sun
most days. The asylum walls continued down toward the centre of town where a few shuttered
little shops sat silent and empty.

Then there was the old cemetery that was about it.

But to Joy Wells, of Number 9 Ravenwood Avenue, it was everything. She closed her heavy
curtains with a heavy sigh.

In Spooking,12-year-old Joy Wells has found the perfect home for both her family and her
imagination. Inspired by <i>The Compleat and Collected Works of E.A. Peugeot</i>, Joy and
her reluctant brother Byron explore the Spooking bog for signs of a horrible monster or even the
bog fiend. In <i>Fiendish Deeds</i>, author P.J. Bracegirdle also reveals that suburbia, a
monster more terrible than a bog fiend, is threatening the unique beauty of Spooking and even of
characters like Joy, herself. Yes, the dreaded “s” word is attempting to creep up the hill to
Spooking and suffocate the Spookys with the order, modernity, and automated sprinkler systems
the Darlings of Darlington love so much.

Joy Wells must protect the integrity of Spooking from the Darlings who seem unable to find the
beauty in the mysterious old bog and general Spooking spookiness. The Misty Mermaid Water
Park is planned for development on the Spooking bog by the miserable ex-Spooky Mr. Phipps.
He has a goal to smooth out the oddities of Spooking by transforming it into more Darlington
sprawl. Mr. Phipps is truly evil. Joy, always grappling with the real and fake monsters in her life,
fights for the rights of Spooking and Spookys against the Darlings. However, class bullies, Mr.
Phipps, and even her teacher, are incapable of understanding her passion for the strange and
haunting town of Spooking.

In <i>Fiendish Deeds</i>, Bracegirdle uses dark humour and sarcasm to draw the reader into the
story, the atmosphere of Spooking, and the character Joy. Strange and quirky, Joy is obsessed
with ghastly supernatural possibilities, and she dresses in a deceased old woman’s clothing to
complete her “adventuring ensemble.” Bracegirdle pokes fun at the oddities in Joy’s character, so
that she felt like a loved sister or good friend with whom I was adventuring.

I enjoyed every minute I spent reading this book. Bracegirdle’s wit and literary style create a
truly macabre mood in the story that is compelling and fun to read. References to Edgar Allen
Poe provide a glimpse into literary history without being didactic, and environmental issues,
bullying, and development are also woven into the story without heavy-handed didacticism.
While I was curled up inside my apartment in rainy Vancouver, Bracegirdle’s deliciously dark
narrative tone transported me from my green fleecy blanket right into Spooking. The language is
consistent, the characters are strange and wonderful, and the plot is full of bizarre twists.
<i>Fiendish Deeds</i> is an impressive first novel for P.J. Bracegirdle.

Highly Recommended.

Brianne Grant is a student in the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature at the University
of British Columbia and the Executive Councillor-West for IBBY Canada.

What Is Citizenship? (Canadian Citizenship in Action).

Heather Kissock, ed.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc, $11.95 (pbk.), $23.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-465-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55388-464-4 (hc.).

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Mary Thomas.

**** /4

Citizenship in a Democracy. (Canadian Citizenship in Action).

Heather Kissock, ed.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc, $11.95 (pbk.), $23.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-467-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55388-466-8 (hc.).

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Mary Thomas.

**** /4

Citizens and Government in Canada. (Canadian Citizenship in Action).
Heather C. Hudak, ed.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc, $11.95 (pbk.), $23.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-469-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55388-468-2 (hc.).

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Mary Thomas.

**** /4

Individual Power. (Canadian Citizenship in Action).

Heather C. Hudak, ed.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc, $11.95 (pbk.), $23.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-471-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55388-470-5 (hc.).

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Mary Thomas.

**** /4
“Canadian Citizenship in Action” is a series of four books intended to help students understand
just what living in a democracy like ours means, and how each person can participate, as well as
what barriers may be encountered. The individual volumes have several points in common: each
32 pages in length and lavishly illustrated; each includes an index, glossary, and bibliographical
references to both books and websites; each finishes with a collection of four "viewpoints",
statements paired with an unidentified but appropriate portrait, which give polarized opinions
the content of the book should enable readers to assess and evaluate. Slightly modified, these
statements would make good debating topics.

<i>What Is Citizenship?</i> begins by defining citizenship as being "based on participation" and
goes on to show, by means of such exemplars as Michael Jean and Craig Kielburger, how one
can make a difference to life in Canada and in the world. Varying levels of participation in
government from merely casting one's ballot to being an MP or MLA are examined. Parallels are
drawn between our federal parliament and the organization of a student council, bringing
concepts closer to home for young readers.

<i>Citizenship in a Democracy</i> gives some history of the development of democratic ideas,
starting with the ancient Greek model of direct democracy where every citizen could have his
say, and then showing how our government actually incorporates as well a good deal of the
Iroquois system of representative democracy in a federation of member states. Not all
democracies are political--think, for example, of sports teams or book clubs--and almost any
organization needs some sort of structure. Many decisions are taken by the vote of the majority,
i.e., democratically. "The hockey coach as dictator", however, was not a topic that was discussed!
Opportunities for youth participation through page programmes in provincial or federal
legislatures, and the largely on-line Youth Parliament are explained in some detail. There is an
interesting presentation of two possible positions of elected representatives on a question about to
be put to the vote: should the representative vote as her constituents would wish, or as her
political party has decreed? Again, a good debating topic.

<i>Citizens and Government in Canada</i> begins with the definition of a constitution and the
history of the British North America Act, the Constitution Act, 1982, and the Charter of Rights.
It then continues with the Meech Lake Accord, Elijah Harper, and the Charlottetown Accord, all
which being necessary background to any understanding of how our government works, or
doesn't. While the book states the BNA Act granted Parliament the power to make laws for
peace, order, and good government in Canada in relation to all matters "not coming within the
classes of subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces," some
concrete examples would have been helpful for purposes of clarification. I also missed having no
discussion of powers of taxation with relation to division of responsibilities. Municipalities, for
example, are in charge of things that impact directly on everyone's lives, and yet they have a very
limited taxation base and have to rely on handouts from higher levels of government. Is this
right, or should it be changed?

<i>Individual Power</i> is devoted mostly to an expansion of the statement in the introduction
that "an individual's empowerment is affected by socio-economic factors, cultural factors,
geographical factors, and demographic factors", explaining what is meant by each term, and
giving examples. It does point out that the Quebec-Windsor corridor has 2% of Canada's land
area and 60% of its population, but then says that "with representation by population, there is
little concern about being forgotten in the House of Commons," but it does not point out that one
vote in these smaller, but very populous, ridings is worth a great deal less than one in Nunavut,
for example, with its total of 50,000 people. Emphasis is rightly put on education--or the lack
thereof--as being an obvious necessity for real citizenship. How can one keep oneself informed if
one belongs to the 15% of Canadians who are functionally illiterate?

I liked this series very much. The books are well written--careful reading found only one real
copyediting error--although some of the glossary definitions could have been better worded. The
books relate large-scale issues to ones that are within the reader's experience, and they certainly
make one think. Any classroom from grade 4 to 8 could have its curriculum significantly
enriched by having these books as a resource.

Highly Recommended.

Mary Thomas lives and works in Winnipeg, MB.
Inuksuk Journey: An Artist at the Top of the World.

Mary Wallace.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2008.
64 pp., hardcover, $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-897349-26-7.

Subject Headings:
Wallace, Mary, 1950- -Travel-Canada, Northern-Juvenile literature.
Canada, Northern-Description and travel-Juvenile literature.
Inuksuk-Juvenile literature.
Canada, Northern-Inuit art-Juvenile literature.
Canada, Northern-Pictorial works-Juvenile literature.
Painters-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Christina Neigel.

**** /4

It must be morning. Bright sunlight filters through our tent roof. Even though it never got dark
last night, we slept soundly, lulled by the crashing of ocean waves from our camp’s shore.

I step our of our tent and spot Timmun at the water’s edge. He casts, and pulls in a silvery flash
from the ocean. Nearby, at the mouth of a giant river, stands the inuksuk that marks a good place
to fish.

Without a doubt, Mary Wallace has a profound interest and respect for life in the Arctic.
Chronicling her summer trip to Nunavut in scrapbook-fashion, her delightful journaling captures
the feeling and allure of the north. Her incredible acrylic depictions of various inuksuk, the
landscape, and the fauna pay homage to this region of the world that so few of us ever have the
opportunity to see. Photographs taken by Mary and her sister, with whom she traveled, provide a
careful narrative of their week-long camping exploration. Each two page “entry” is separated by
Wallace’s artistic interpretations of her trip which exemplify her abilities as a painter.

The inuksuk provide the central theme for Wallace’s journey as their reassuring presence, seen
all over the traditional territories of the Inuit, constitute the cultural landmarks that Wallace uses
to express her unique summer experience. <i>Inuksuk Journey</i> is carefully crafted and
beautifully told. The artwork enables this book to stand alone as an aesthetic piece that can be
appreciated by older children and adults. Adding to its value, this work can also be a fantastic
resource for those who wish to understand aspects of life in the north as seen through the eyes of
a non-native. This is a “must-have” for Canadiana, fine art and native studies collections and is
highly recommended for most other non-fiction collections for children.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Neigel is the Program Head for the Library and Information Technology Program at the
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, BC.


David Ward.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2008.
143 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-0-88995-400-7.

Subject Headings:
Time travel-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-7 / Ages 10-12.

Review by Dana L. Coates.

***½ /4


When everything stopped swirling, he let out a breath and slumped. Just at the edge of his vision,
he caught a glimpse of something, a presence directly behind him. His chin shot up. He threw
himself forward and away, turning in the air to face his attacker. The mist continued to swirl and
he strained to see through it. Teeth…body…eyes.

If you like the notion of traveling back in time, then <i>Archipelago</i> by David Ward is a
must read for you. <i>Archipelago</i>, which is a fantasy and mystery novel intended for
juveniles, takes readers back 14,000 years to the Charlotte Islands. It is based on the theory of the
First Peoples crossing from Asia to North America.

The characters are believable in this third person point of view story. Jonah is traveling the
islands off the coast of British Columbia with his mom who is a photographer snapping photos
for a travel magazine. As Jonah gazes over the cliff, he catches a glimpse of a girl off in the
distance. This girl turns out to be Akilah. When Jonah and Akilah, who are both 12-years-old,
encounter each other, everything changes. A mystical mist takes Jonah back 14,000 years to a
land that is unbelievably different and a climate that is drastically colder.

<i>Archipelago</i> is well researched and descriptive as it recreates the past. Since Ward grew
up in Vancouver, he is familiar with the area in which this story takes place. The setting is well
described, both in the past and the present. Ward recaptures what life would have been like
14,000 years ago, providing excellent descriptions of everything from what the land looked like
and what animals existed, to what it smelled like long ago. And some of those smells are not very
appetizing! Readers can almost taste Jonah and Akilah’s supper of clams wrapped in a warmth of
grass, lichen, and seaweed.

The plot is jam-packed with plenty of unpredictable action. Jonah and Akilah embark on a
dangerous quest together in search of The People. The pair are nearly killed by a bear and The
Crossers. Also, the plot has many teachable moments. As Jonah is grieving over the loss of his
father, he learns diverse things from Akilah such as how to survive both in the past and in the
present, and some valuable advice about life in general. Jonah’s character develops significantly
from living in the past with his new acquaintance.

<i>Archipelago</i> is a fairly easy read, although there are some complicated words. Young
readers may not even know what the title means or how to pronounce it. Archipelago which is
pronounced är'k-pl'-gō', means a sea with many islands.

This is a great book to read for pleasure whether you are 10-years-old or an adult. Ward will take
his readers on a nail-biting adventure back into time, and they will not want to put the book down
until it is finished.

Highly Recommended.

Dana L. Coates is a grade six teacher in Norway House, MB.

Where The River Takes Me: The Hudson’s Bay Diary of Jenna Sinclair, Fort Victoria,
Vancouver’s Island, 1859. (Dear Canada).

Julie Lawson.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2007/2008.
283 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-0-439-95620-8.

Subject Heading:
Hudson’s Bay Company-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Ruth Sands.

**** /4


                       Saturday, August 24th

This morning I went to the meadow and saw Kwetlal again. She was digging camas with the
others, tho’ there were not as many as last week, which makes me think the harvest might be
coming to an end. When I approached her, she remembered my name and looked happy to see
me. It turns out she speaks and understands a little bit of English and when she pointed towards
the Fort, mimed the act of paddling a canoe and said “brother” and “father,” I guessed that she
might have learned some words from a relative who works for the company. Maybe her brother
or father was one of the paddlers who brought me from Fort Langley. We played a few more
“guessing games” – including one in which I tried to explain that my mother and father were
dead, but not my grandmother. I must have used the right gestures for she smiled, seeming to
understand, and took me meet her grandmother, the woman I had seen telling stories. I managed
to get across that she reminded me of my grandmother.

I had never seen a camas root up close so I took the opportunity and looked into Kwetlal’s
basket. “Camas?” I said. They looked more like bulbs than roots, but Mrs. Staines had been right
about the name for it, on hearing “camas” Kwetlal gave a delighted grin, handed me a pointed
stick and showed me how to use it. (Now I wonder if I might have pronounced “camas”
incorrectly, and said something that means “Let me help with the digging.”) It was not as easy as
it looked.

<i>Where the River Takes Me</i>, by Julie Lawson, part of Scholastic’s “Dear Canada” series,
is the fictional diary of 12-year-old Jenna Sinclair, a resident of Fort Edmonton in 1849.
Orphaned by the death of her father the previous year, Jenna is left in the care of her Aunt Grace
and is about to start on a great adventure. Aunt Grace is getting married, and her new husband
has been reassigned to Fort Coleville. Jenna oscillates between sadness at the thought of leaving
her friends and her grandmother and excitement at the thought of the journey ahead. Once they
reach Fort
Coleville, Jenna discovers that she has a very restless spirit, and she wants to go away to school.
Some of the other children at the fort will be heading to a school in Fort Victoria, and Julie
manages to convince her aunt that she should be allowed to go as well. Jenna’s diary is filled
entries about traveling, life in the Forts and one very spectacular and scary event that takes place
towards the end of her first year at school.
What a fantastic way to teach children about life in early Canada. While Jenna is a fictional
character, she is based on solid research about what a young girl in 1859 Canada might have
experienced. Through the diary entries, Jenna explains to the reader about methods of travel,
about life inside a fort and about the life of people on the plains. History comes alive in a way
never accomplished by my teachers in school. Because Jenna is so alive on the page, I had to
keep reminding myself that she wasn’t real as I read the novel. The reader is constantly given an
overview of life in the late 1800’s while making a connection with a very believable character.
As a lifelong resident of Vancouver, I found the book to be even more engaging as I have been to
Fort Langley on numerous occasions, but only now do I have a real sense of its importance in
history. And imagine, crossing from the mainland to Victoria, not on a BC ferry, but in a canoe.

Lawson’s book has brought history to life. She has perfectly conveyed the voice of a young girl,
and Jenna makes a connection with the reader because she seems so alive. The diary format of
the book is very realistic, and the epilogue, which sums up the rest of Jenna’s life, only adds to
the reader’s belief that this may have been a real child. <i>Where The River Takes Me</i> is a
very good novel for anyone who even has a passing interest in Canadian history.

Highly Recommended.

Ruth Sands is a freelance writer from Vancouver, BC.

Sir John S.D. Thompson: The Pushover Who Died Too Soon. (Canadian Prime Ministers: Warts
& All).

Elle Andra-Warner. Illustrated by Suzanne Morgensen..
Toronto, ON: JackFruit Press, 2007.
55 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-9736406-8-7.

Subject Headings:
Thompson, John S. D. (John Sparrow David), Sir, 1844-1894-Juvenile literature.
Prime ministers-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Prime ministers-Nova Scotia-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Politics and government-1867-1896-Juvenile literature.
Nova Scotia-Politics and government-1867-1896-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4
Sir Charles Tupper: The Bully Who Battled for Canada. (Canadian Prime Ministers: Warts &

Johanna Bertin. Illustrated by Gabriel Morrissette & Bernie Mireault.
Toronto, ON: JackFruit Press, 2007.
55 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-9736406-7-0.

Subject Headings:
Tupper, Charles, Sir, 1821-1915-Juvenile literature.
Prime ministers-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Prime ministers-Nova Scotia-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Politics and government-1867-1896-Juvenile literature.
Nova Scotia-Politics and government-19th century-Juvenile literature.
Physicians-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4


In the late 1800s, fewer than one in four Nova Scotia lawyers had a university degree. Like John,
they went from public school to being a lawyer’s apprentice. John believed in legal excellence in
fighting injustice and wanted to find a better way to educate not only himself, but all lawyers in
Nova Scotia. So, in 1883, he became one of the founders of the Dalhousie Law School, the first
university law faculty in Canada outside of Quebec. (From <i>Sir John S.D. Thompson</i>.)

Part of the 22-volume “Warts & All” series about Canadian Prime Ministers, these titles
showcase the lives of two men who lived during the time of Confederation.

The first title features Sir John S.D. Thompson, referred to as a pushover because he was cajoled
into taking various positions rather than wanting them himself. Born in Halifax, Thompson
became responsible for the sole support of his family at a young age. He supplemented his
lawyer’s income with his job as a shorthand reporter for the government and later went on to
become an alderman on Halifax city council, the Premier of Nova Scotia, a Nova Scotia Supreme
Court judge, a cabinet minister (Minister of Justice) and, finally, Prime Minister at age 48. For
much of his political life, he was separated by distance from his wife and family, and this
separation took a toll on his health. He and his wife wrote daily letters to one another, and,
though she missed him terribly, she encouraged him to stay in politics. Knighted by Queen
Victoria, Thompson served as Prime Minister for only two years. Overweight as a result of poor
eating habits and ill with both Bright’s disease and heart disease, Thompson collapsed at a
luncheon at Windsor Castle and died instantly from a massive heart attack in 1894. Over the
years, his wife had saved over 30 trunks of his papers which were eventually donated to what is
now Library and Archives Canada, thereby providing a lasting legacy of Thompson’s
achievements. His contributions to Canada were many: he negotiated fishing treaties between
Canada and the U.S., co-founded Dalhousie Law School, drafted and developed the Canadian
Criminal Code, campaigned for equal rights for men and women, promoted bilingualism and was
responsible for initiating Labour Day.

Sir Charles Tupper was Canada’s sixth Prime Minister, serving in this position for less than 10
weeks after a distinguished 41-year career in politics. He had been a country doctor, staff surgeon
and Chief Medical Officer, and a clever businessman before becoming Premier of Nova Scotia.
Known for his strong personality and his assertiveness, Tupper was also considered to be a
ruthless bully by many of his contemporaries. In <i>Sir Charles Tupper: The Bully Who Battled
for Canada</i>, readers will learn about Tupper’s personal life which was often marred by
tragedy- he took the deaths of two of his children especially hard, because, as a medical doctor,
he felt he should have been able to save them, and his home was destroyed by fire. Perhaps the
deaths of his daughters made him more protective of his surviving children, and when his newly
married daughter was living in the Red River area during the time of the Métis uprising, Tupper
travelled across the country by train, stagecoach, horse-drawn sled, dogsled and on foot in order
to get her, only to find that she was quite comfortable and wondered what the fuss was about. In
1896, when seven members of Prime Minister Bowell’s cabinet resigned, the PM resigned as
well, and Tupper was appointed Prime Minister. As the previous government had been in power
for five years, Tupper felt compelled to call an election. Because the people of Canada wanted
change, they elected Liberal Wilfrid Laurier, depriving Tupper of a chance to prove himself as
PM. He had served in that capacity for only 68 days. Tupper retired from politics after he lost his
seat in his riding in 1900 and moved back to England. A devoted husband for over 66 years, he
returned to Canada in 1912 when his wife died so that she could be buried on Canadian soil. He
then took a cross-country train ride to visit all of the places that held happy memories for him
and returned to England in 1913. Tupper died at the age of 94 in 1915. His legacies include the
Free School Act which gave all children in Nova Scotia free education paid for by taxes,
improved schools, and the National Policy which protected Canadian manufacturers from unfair
trade with the United States. He also defended Maritime fishermen and promoted the completion
of the Canadian Pacific Railway, western immigration, the development and protection of
Canada’s vast resources and improved health care. Other accomplishments include working with
Sir John A. Macdonald and others to bring about Confederation and the combining of five
different tariffs, currencies and postal systems into one.

The writing styles of both authors are in keeping with the other volumes in this series. They are
fluent, engaging and, for the most part, unbiased (although in the title about Sir John S. D.
Thompson, author Elle Andra-Warner states, when referring to Americans’ view of Canadians,
“Often they see us as preachy and smug, not nearly conservative enough, and they believe we
think we’re smarter than them.”) Words printed in boldface type appear in an extensive glossary.
There is also a table of contents, a timeline of important dates and events which occurred during
the featured Prime Minister’s lifetime, an index and a list of suggested books, web sites and
places to visit in Canada for further study. Also included are several pages of “Hot Topics,” a
few examples being the Criminal Code’s protection of young offenders and medical practices of
the 1800s.

Illustrations consist primarily of drawings and paintings although there are a few archival
photographs as well. (Here again, the various illustrators whose work graces the pages of the
series’ titles have somewhat similar styles so that the series has a uniform appearance.) A cartoon
beaver character appears in each of the volumes in the series, providing additional facts, while
coloured bands and sidebars in each chapter serve as time lines of the events covered.

The main strength of the books in the series is their ability to showcase not only the Prime
Ministers’ wonderful contributions to this country, but also their weaknesses as leaders and
human beings, making them more “human” and appealing to the reader. These titles would be
welcome additions to any school or public library.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

The Pole.

Eric Walters.
Toronto, ON: Puffin Canada, 2008.
282 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-0-14-316791-4.

Subject Headings:
Peary, Robert E. (Robert Edwin), 18561920-Juvenile fiction.
Bartlett, Robert A. (Robert Abram)-1875-1946-Juvenile fiction.
Henson, Matthew Alexander, 1866-1955-Juvenile fiction.
Roosevelt (Ship)-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-9 / Ages10-14.

Review by Vikki VanSickle.

***½ /4


I could hear the dogs barking more clearly now. They always barked a lot, but there was
something different this time. I went to step outside but stopped myself. First I reached over and
took one of the rifles that was leaning against the wall. The metal of the barrel felt freezing
against my skin. I hadn't put gloves on. Maybe I should go back to my bunk and get them or—the
dogs were barking louder, almost frantically.

I stepped outside and pulled the door closed behind me. It was dark—it was always dark—but it
was brighter than inside. The moon was big and bright and gave off enough light to allow me to
clearly see the shelter across from us. I circled around the side of the shelter to where the dogs
were kept and—I stopped dead in my tracks. There was a polar bear—a gigantic polar bear—
standing beside one of the igloos!

Eric Walters is a classic storyteller. His award-winning novels are smooth, clean reads that put
ordinary kids in extraordinary situations. <i>The Pole</i> is no exception. Fourteen-year-old
Danny, an orphan from Newfoundland, boards the <i>Roosevelt</i> in New York City in the
summer of 1908 as a mere deckhand, and, by the time the ship arrives in the Inuit village of Etah,
he is a valued member of Captain Bartlett's crew. Danny is honest, hardworking and eager to
learn. His skill with the sled dogs catches the eye of Commander Peary who allows him to join
the final assault on the North, an honour shared by a select few.

On the surface, <i>The Pole</i> is a traditional boys’ adventure story, complete with harsh
conditions, polar bears, near-drownings and dogsled racing. The action sequences are breathless
and exciting. What sets <i>The Pole</i> apart is that, between the action, Walters manages to
delve into themes of tolerance, loyalty, justice, and honour, giving <i>The Pole</i> a depth that
many adventure stories lack.

That Walters never rests on stock characters or stereotypes results in an interesting, well rounded
cast of characters, including Commander Peary, an explorer who quotes Shakespeare, Matthew
Henson, a young black scholar with invaluable experience in the North who teaches Danny to
speak Inuktitut, and Danny, himself, who is an extremely likable narrator.

During his adventure, Danny learns some hard lessons about justice. He is bothered by how some
of the men, including the Commander, treat Matt due to his skin colour. He is also surprised that
many of the men don't bother to learn Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit men (referred to as
Eskimos in the book) who are assisting them on their travels and keeping them from perishing in
the harsh Northern climate. Although he and Matt reach the pole before Commander Peary, the
Commander is clear that it will be his name, and his name alone, that will be recorded as the first
man to reach the pole.

Following the story, Walters includes an author's note, paying homage to the bravery of men like
Matthew Henderson, Captain Bartlett and the Inuit members of Peary's expedition who likely
reached the pole before Peary, himself, but due to their social and racial status in 1909, have been
left out of the history books.
Walters does an excellent job providing a well-researched historical adventure while, at the same
time, breathing new life into the survival story. In a sea of vampire books, <i>The Pole</i> is a
refreshing adventure story just in time for the winter reading season.

Highly Recommended.

Vikki VanSickle, who has an MA in Children's Literature from the University of British
Columbia, is a writer and manager of the Flying Dragon Bookshop in Toronto, ON.

Alexandria of Africa.

Eric Walters.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada/Random House of Canada, 2008.
200 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-0-385-66639-8.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Anna Swanson.

*** /4


“I have a question,” Renee said. “Tonight, when you were talking to the people serving, you
were speaking to them in Swahili.”

“Not really speaking, just saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and a few other phrases.”

“So you knew what you were saying.”

“Don’t look so shocked just because I picked up a few words”

“That’s not the part that shocked me. It’s that I’ve never heard you be polite in English before,
much less in a foreign language.”

“Ha ha. Well, maybe I’m still waiting for you to do something that deserves thanks. Tell me, how
thankful should a prisoner be to her keeper – no that’s the wrong term – her <i>warden</i>?”

“I’m not your keeper or your warden. This isn’t prison.”

“Club Med doesn’t usually involve guards, electric fences, locked gates, and forced labour.”
“I’m not sure if the work you did today could be called either ‘forced’ or ‘labour,’” she said.

“I got that message.”

“Alexandia, it’s important that you know where you stand. What I’m going to put in the report
for the judge.”

When 15-year-old Alexandria Hyatt is caught shoplifting again, not even her rich father and his
lawyers can save her when she rubs the judge the wrong way. Luckily, she is offered a deal –
instead of jail time she can choose to participate in a “diversion” program. If her parents agree
to pay her expenses, Alexandria will travel to Africa and spend a month working with Child Save
in Kenya.

Needless to say, life at the compound is nothing like her privileged life back home. There is no
cell reception and nowhere to plug in her hair straightener; she must share a tent and use
communal showers that are often cold; and she is expected to work hard if she is to “pass” her
diversion program. But these conditions are nothing compared to what she discovers when she
goes to work on a new building for the local school and eventually goes home for dinner with a
Maasai family.

Primarily, <i>Alexandria of Africa</i> is a story of personal transformation where engagement
with the realities of the larger world also inspire the first inklings of self-knowledge, where
challenges bring untapped skills, courage, and integrity to the forefront. During the course of her
work helping to build a new school, Alexandria befriends the daughter of a local chief, discovers
a gift for picking up new languages, and slowly develops an appreciation for the many realities
outside her small bubble.

<i>Alexandria of Africa</i> may not be enough of a hard-hitting story for readers who have cut
their teeth on the intensity of stories like <i>Chanda’s Secret</i> (which chronicles the harsh
realities of a 16-year-old girl dealing with the effects of the AIDS crisis in Africa). As such,
<i>Alexandria of Africa</i> may appeal to an audience somewhat younger than the 15-year-old
protagonist. But this story offers an accessible entry point for those curious about the dynamics
of international development work, connection across cultural difference, and the profound
effects of the global distribution of wealth and power. For younger readers curious about these
issues, this novel might well be paired with the information book <i>Ryan and Jimmy: And the
Well in Africa That Brought Them Together</i>.

With more than 50 novels to his name, and numerous awards, Eric Walters is a seasoned writer.
The book is plot-driven, highly readable, and seems well-researched. There is a short note at the
back referring to the time Walters and his son spent working with Free The Children, the
real-life NGO on which Child Save is presumably based. The basic premise of the story,
however, remains difficult to believe. It is certainly possible that the plot reflects a real diversion
program, but, as delivered in this novel, it remains unconvincing, and this detracts from the
impact of the story. Regardless, the subject is compelling and important, and hopefully this novel
will serve as a springboard to inspire readers to find out even more about the issues it raises.


Anna Swanson works as a children’s librarian with the Vancouver Public Library.

Get Lost.

M.D. Meyer.
Winnipeg, MB: Art Bookbindery, 2006.
65 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 0-9782127-1-1.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.
Review by Elaine Fuhr.

***½ /4


"You two used to get along - when you were younger."

Andrew shook his head. That was a long time ago!

"It's just that he keeps getting weirder and weirder."

Andrew glanced up at Grandpa Tom, saw the look of confusion on his face and tried to explain.
"It's the way that he walks. And the way that he talks. And the way that he dresses. Have you
seen the clothes he wears? I wouldn't be caught dead in those clothes!"

"Just saw him a few minutes ago. Looked fine to me." Grandpa Tom's voice was all deep and
gravelly again. Andrew could definitely feel a lecture coming on!

What he didn't expect to hear was what came next. "So, it's just plain prejudice."

Had Andrew outgrown his long time friend; had Michael really changed that much, or was it
prejudice? Andrew didn't believe it was that. After all, Michael, a young African American boy,
was a city kid from the south and didn't even belong on the reserve. Yet, he'd been there many
times before, visiting his grandparents, and they had always been friends. What had changed?
Michael's attitude had changed for sure. He didn't seem to like it on the Rabbit Lake Reserve
anymore. He swaggered when he walked, found fault with all of the Christmas festivities, and,
worst of all, he made it clear that he belonged at Grandpa Tom's more than Andrew did. Grandpa
Tom was Michael's real grandfather, yet Andrew felt he had just as much right at Grandpa Tom's
because he lived nearby and Grandpa Tom treated him like family. What made it all worse was
that he, Andrew, was the only one that seemed to feel angry with Michael. Finally, Andrew had
had enough of Michael's constant fault finding and his need for attention. He threw his
snowmobile keys at Michael and told him to get lost. Andrew's would come to regret this serious
lapse in judgement that would ultimately put three lives in danger.

Meyer has written a novel for young people that contains a very important message. Prejudice is
everywhere. No one is immune, but, if it is ever to stop, young people must be the ones to put it
to an end. <i>Get Lost</i> is an interesting, easy to read novel about the consequences of hate
and lack of tolerance.

Highly Recommended.
Elaine Fuhr; a retired school teacher, lives in Alberta.

Sweet Secrets: Stories of Menstruation.

Kathleen O’Grady & Paula Wansbrough.
Toronto, ON: Sumach Press, 1997.
231 pp., pbk., $11.95.
ISBN 0-929005-33-3.

Subject Heading:
Menstruation-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Kay Weisman.

*** /4


Did you know that women who live in the same house or who see each other often, like close
friends or relatives, often start to menstruate on exactly the same day in “synchronicity”? Or that
for thousands and thousands of years women have used the phases of the moon as a way to mark
the passage of their bleeding cycles? And that many cultures all over the world treat menstruation
as a powerful and sacred process? First menstruation is an especially important event and has
been celebrated by people throughout history.”

O’Grady and Wansbrough, an English academic and Canadian youth worker, have compiled a
unique collection of factual information and short stories/memoirs relating to menstruation. The
opening chapters provide a detailed discussion of the menstrual process (including anatomical
structures and physiological changes to the body), information about when to expect a first
period, commentary about how relationships with other women may change after menstruation,
colloquial terms for this event, what to do about cramps, whether to use pads or tampons, and
accounts of cultures that publicly celebrate the advent of menses. Interspersed among these
informational segments are comments from more than thirty contributors, women ranging in age
from 13 to 93. Two small black and white diagrams are included, depicting the female
reproductive organs and an exterior pubic view.

The second (and longer) portion of the book contains stories of menstruation—grouped
thematically around waiting (for a first period), the arrival, reaching out (to other women),
challenges, the passage (to womanhood), and putting it all together. Many of the stories are
personal reminiscences; they range from funny and frank (“Blood” and “Blood and Chestnuts”)
to poignant (“Jennifer’s Birthday”) to empowering (“Passage to Womanhood” and “On My
Own”) to traumatic (“Turnings”). Most selections are short, interspersed with chatty sidebars
offering helpful tips on bloating, PMS, menstrual odors, alternatives to disposable menstrual
products, pelvic exams, yeast infections, cystitis, and “menstrual myths.” The authors append a
“period days” calendar, glossary, bibliography, index, and biographical notes on contributors,
and recommend that readers skip around in the text choosing sections that intrigue them most.

Because much of this book is so personal in nature, it will probably be most appreciated by
browsers, although health classes may find it useful as well. One of its strengths is that it offers a
great deal of useful information that is not always readily accessible from other sources. The
presentation is nonjudgmental, emphasizing the great variety in women and their cycles. Also,
because the contributors represent such a wide range of ages, cultures, and nationalities, they are
able to provide diverse viewpoints and offer unusual insights. (For example, menstruating Greek
Orthodox women are not supposed to take communion.) The result is an accepting and reassuring
volume that celebrates the joys (and minor inconveniences) of womanhood.


Kay Weisman is a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature candidate at the University of British
Watching Jimmy.

Nancy Hartry.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2009.
144 pp., hardcover, $18.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-871-2.

Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.

Review by Betsy Fraser.

**½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.


I've noticed something about troubles. When Jimmy first "fell off the swing" and he was lying in
a coma, his house was filled with ham and scalloped potatoes. There were Empire cookies and
date squares. Cold roast beef and coleslaw. There was so much good that it spilled over into our
side of the semi-detached house, because my mom has a refrigerator that my grandfather bought
before he died. Aunt Jean is still using an old-fashioned icebox and it's not that easy to get ice
anymore. The food lasted for two weeks. I mean, the delivery of the food, and then it stopped.
Just like that. It didn't dwindle down to one canasta lady bringing one thing, and another coming
forward a few days later. I mean, it just stalled out at the two-week mark, like two weeks was
sufficient time for us to get used to the new Jimmy.

Well, it wasn't.

Carolyn has more experience with troubles than any young girl deserves. Given the single-parent
status of both her household and her next-door neighbor's, she is used to keeping an eye on her
friend Jimmy when creepy 'Uncle' Ted is around. On the summer days in 1958 when all of
the kids in the neighborhood swarm on Ted's beautiful new Thunderbird, it is Jimmy and Carolyn
who are left to polish off all of the fingerprints and Jimmy who gets repeatedly punched in the
shoulder, giving him a bruise that gets progressively darker because Uncle Ted "doesn't know his
own strength." Yet on the day at the end of the summer when Ted is overcome with anger and
drives off with Jimmy, Carolyn follows them. She is the only witness to the violent act, presented
to everyone else as an "accident," that leaves Jimmy brain-damaged. Carolyn's life changes after
this as Ted becomes more abusive to her and money troubles multiply for the adults in her life.

Historical details are filled in through Carolyn’s being required to do a speech on why she is
proud to be a Canadian for Remembrance Day, an appearance by Tommy Douglas and the
appointment of her aunt as the Silver Cross Mother, all of which fit together neatly and wrap up
the story.

Carolyn is a plucky character who stands up for the right things, including Jimmy, her aunt and
remembering that "a helping hand [is] more powerful than a clenched fist." It is a valuable
example of a book where a character tells the truth about abuse to the adults around her. The
book is recommended as a resource for both public and school libraries as it offers many topics
for discussion.


Betsy Fraser is a Community Outreach librarian with Calgary Public Library and the author of
<i>Reality Rules: A Guide to Teen Nonfiction Reading Interests</i>.

Eva Wiseman.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2009.
243 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-0-88776-828-6.

Subject Headings:
Blood accusation-Europe-Juvenile fiction.
Jews-Persecutions-Europe-Juvenile fiction.
Trials (Murder)-Europe-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


“…everybody knows the Jews killed my sister. I overheard my master tell my mistress that even
some of the newspapers in Budapest are accusing the Jews of killing Esther for her blood,” she
said stubbornly. “I went with Rosie to their Jew church once. They do strange things there. And
they speak in gibberish. You can’t understand a single word they’re saying.”

The false accusation of blood libel against Jews is a tool that was used over the centuries to whip
up anti-Semitic fervour among the masses; the fear and loathing it inspired resulted in pogroms,
deaths and persecution and kept Jews isolated in European society.

Sadly, the myth persists, even today.

What is blood libel?

It’s the notion that Jews kidnap young Christian children and murder them in a ritual manner,
draining their blood to bake matzo, a cracker made of flour and water that is used on Passover.


Because the ruling classes and the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant church oligarchies
needed scapegoats for their own corruption and neglect of their citizenry. It was, and is, useful
to demonize a group of identifiable people when a problem arises. The blood libel came in handy
when a child went missing or was found dead. History records many instances of mass hysteria
and attacks against Jews and Jewish property, bogus trials and executions, but there was no
atonement by the authorities or the churches when a child was later found alive or a death

The blood libel and the last trial of Jews for the death of a young girl in Hungary in1882-83 is the
subject of Eva Wiseman’s latest book, <i>Puppet</i>. Wiseman writes important books for
adults; her previous novels, <i>A Place Not Home</i>, <i>My Canary Yellow Star</i>, <i>No
One Must Know</i> and <i>Kanada</i>, address the scourge or anti-Semitism and the murder
of millions of innocent people by the Nazis, through the experiences of ordinary young girls.

In <i>Puppet</i>, it is a Jewish teen who is the accuser, thereby adding ‘credibility’ to the
prosecutors’ case. Morris Scharf is beaten into saying that he witnessed his father and other
members of the local synagogue snatch a servant-girl off the street, hold her down and slash her
neck, collecting her blood in a bowl.

Wiseman tells the story through the eyes of a non-Jewish girl, Julie. She is impoverished, her
mother dies, and her abusive father separates her from her younger sister, forcing her to work as
a servant in the jail where the imprisoned Jews are being held. Julie knows that Morris’s
accusations are false, but she is intimidated by her violent father and by society’s attitudes into
holding her tongue. Her own fears of losing her job and having nowhere to turn tear at her

Julie’s work allows her to make herself invisible; no one pays attention to the bedraggled waif
scrubbing a floor. She uses her position to learn that Morris is being isolated from his family and
brainwashed by the prosecutor and the priest. As well, she learns of the plans for the trial. The
trial is proceeding as predicted – sentiment is mounting against the Jews despite evidence that the
girl was seen after she was supposedly abducted and even though Morris’s testimony is found to
be invalid.
The crisis comes when Julie must decide what she should do. The threat of beating and possible
death at her father’s hands and her worry over her younger sister’s fate weigh heavily on her. It’s
a no-win situation for the Jews; they have fled the town. The synagogue has been wrecked. If the
men are convicted, they will be attacked in retribution, and, if they are acquitted, there will be
vengeance for the ‘injustice.’

One of Wiseman’s strengths is the frank way she depicts the way people lived and how they
thought. She uses common terms, such as “Jew church” and “Jew butcher,” jarring expressions
that add a pejorative tone to a description. Esther’s sister Sophie, who works for a Jewish family
and is friends with their daughter, is convinced that: “They killed Esther,” she whispered. “They
killed my sister for her blood. They wanted her blood to make their Easter bread.”

Sophie has been indoctrinated that people who practice a different religion must be engaged in
some sort of witchcraft – her own experiences with a family that treats her well cannot convince
her otherwise. Julie’s father is also typical: “I had some work this morning. Rosenberg needed
help on his farm. That dirty Jew, he has so much money he doesn’t know what to do with it.
Those people steal money of the pockets of God-fearing Christian men.”
From whom Rosenberg is stealing is never mentioned. Why Pa got decent wages from
Rosenberg is never considered. If the wages had been lower, it would be the dirty Jew who is
trying to get rich off his labour. If the wages had been higher, then the Jew is too rich and should
pay even more. Why Rosenberg shouldn’t earn money from his farm is also not examined – these
questions would require a conscience and self-reflection. Even Teresa, the co-worker who urges
Julie to do the right thing, is tainted: “You know that I don’t have much use for them Jews,
Julie,” she said, “but if Morris won’t tell the truth, you’ll have to.”

It’s important for young people, especially those brought up far away in distance and time, to
understand that these attitudes were common in Europe and heard daily in the course of people’s
lives. How else to make sense of the atrocities that took place then and the senseless slaughter
that was organized in a methodical, cold-blooded fashion in World War II? If children are not
taught positive ways of interacting with people, then racist attitudes are carried forward through
the generations.

Such attitudes were common in Canada when Europeans first emigrated here. My parents
grew up in the milieu of the North End of Winnipeg where Jews, Ukrainians, Poles and Germans
lived side by side. They talked about having friends with whom they would play and walk to
school, but that the parents of some of these children would forbid them to associate with Jewish
children on Passover. They were sure that the same Jewish neighbours, with whom they shared
tea and cake at other times of the year, were going to drain their sons and daughters of their
blood. After Passover, the ‘danger’ somehow ended for another twelve months.

I remember being told that I “must be rich” simply because of my ethnic background. Although
these foolish notions have diminished in number, myths and deliberate misconceptions have not
disappeared in regard to any group in Canada – Jews, Muslims, First Nations, Asians, Catholics,
etc. Name the group and a stereotype exists.

Wiseman used research from the trial and accounts at the time to create Julie’s diary. Using a
non-Jew as a narrator is an unexpected touch that works well. Julie is able to circulate widely in
society so that the reader sees how the prosecution is being set up. She is also an ‘unbiased’
narrator who has no stake in either side. Telling the truth will only mean ostracism from her
family and community; not saying anything dooms her to a life of abuse and poverty. It’s a no
win-situation for Julie, too.

And what of Morris Scharf? His name, according to Wiseman, is synonymous with the word
‘traitor’ among the Jews of that region. In trying to save himself, Morris became immortal.

<i>Puppet</i> would be very useful in a study about racism, anti-Semitism or negative

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

Faster Than Wind.

Steve Pitt.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2009.
166 pp., pbk., $11.99.
ISBN 978-1-55002-837-9.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Philip Bravo.

*** /4


There were seven daily newspapers in Toronto. Each had their own army of newsboys. If you
knew how to hustle and had a good location, there was money to be made. Unfortunately, if you
knew how to hurt and intimidate newspaper boys, there was even more money to be made. The
Kellys did the latter. If any kid tried to sell newspapers on the East Side of the city, the Kelly
Gang surrounded him and demanded half his money. If he refused, they beat him up and took all
his money. Although I was small for a fifteen-year-old, I figured I could beat almost any Kelly in
a one-on-one fight except their leader Sean, alias “Himself”, who was huge for sixteen. But he
Kellys never fought one-on-one. And as Sean always bragged with a smile, “You fight one
Kelly, you’re fighting all the Kellys.”

Steve Pitt’s <i>Faster than Wind</i> is a historical novel and coming of age story about a year in
the life of a 15-year-old boy named Bertie McCross. On Christmas Eve, 1906, Bertie is selling
newspapers on a lucrative street corner to help his parents make ends meet, but he refuses to
share his earnings with the Kelly Gang. Following an exciting chase sequence, Bertie McCross is
rescued from Toronto’s “mean streets” and the Kelly Gang by Tommy and Ed, two young men
who invite Bertie to join their ice-boat racing crew. As Bertie learns how to navigate an ice-boat
on a Lake Ontario’s dangerous and unpredictable frozen surface, he is introduced to the
adventurous and wealthy beauty Isobel and Hwei, a shy, hard-working newcomer from China
who works at his uncle’s laundry. Together, this unlikely group that represents a cross section of
Toronto’s population resolve conflicts to work towards winning the Durnan Cup. In an
interesting twist of fate, Bertie risks his own life to rescue Sean and his gang from drowning in
the Lake Ontario. By Christmas Eve, 1907, Bertie learns important lessons about class, identity
and friendship.

Although this cast of characters is contrived and didactic, Pitt’s vivid descriptions of the ice-boat
races and Bertie’s struggle to escape the Kelly Gang’s wrath reward the reader with exciting
action. In addition, Pitt also includes interesting details about the history of the automobile, the
origins of CCM, (a manufacturer of bicycles) and a glimpse of Toronto’s culture at the beginning
of the 20th century. Pitt, whose first book, <i>Rain Tonight</i>, was nominated for the Silver
Birch, Red Cedar and Rocky Mountain awards, has produced in <i>Faster than Wind</i> a fast-
paced, thrilling story recommended for any library, but especially school libraries. The book will
appeal to young adults who are interested in sports and history - two topics that don’t often


Philip Bravo is a Librarian at the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

Emily’s Rebellion. (Not Just Proms & Parties).

Patricia G. Penny.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2008.
140 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-897073-73-5.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Jean Nickel.

** /4


My mother is at it again. She's unloading the dishwasher and throwing the knives and forks into
the drawer as though I'm in there.

"I don't see why you have to be so mad about it. It's not your body." I cross my arms and lean
back against the kitchen counter. I know it's the wrong thing to say, but sometimes stuff just falls
out of my mouth before my brain has had a chance to think it over. Spinning toward me, she
me that look, the one that says she is totally losing it.

"Your body, Emily, is only fifteen years old! A tattoo done by a - did you call him an artist? - is
stupid! Look at you -" Her eyes fill with tears as she pulls back the strap of my tank top and
looks again at the winged dragon etched just above my left breast - "with a goddammed dragon
of all things!"

Emily is a rebel and has the temperament for defying her mother. When her best friend Maddy
introduces her to Jeremy, a student with a bad boy reputation, Emily decides he is her type and
proceeds to make sure he becomes her boyfriend. This action results in a rift between her and her
two friends, Maddy and Tobi.

Emily’s grandmother has asked her to house sit for her when she takes a trip to Italy, and Emily
decides to throw a birthday party for Maddy at her grandmother's place and invites Jeremy and
his friends. At the end of the night, Emily’s grandmother's jewellery is missing and fingers are
pointing at Jeremy. Emily starts an investigation in order to clear his name, and she then
discovers that Jeremy has his share of problems. As readers approach the end of the novel, they
discover who the thief actually is, a discovery which results in forcing Emily to grow up and help
her family.

<i>Emily’s Rebellion</i>, part of the "Not Just Proms & Parties" series, is a light read that
teenage girls will enjoy. Even if the girls are not partygoer or rebels, I am sure they will be able
to relate to most of the incidents in the book. Due to some of the content, such as online
gambling and making out on the couch with your boyfriend at you grandmother’s, this book
should be reserved for more mature students.

The author, Patricia G. Penny, lives with her husband in Lakefield, ON. She has volunteered for
the big sister program which inspired her to write stories for young teens coping with life
problems. She has been a teacher and worked in the human resource field for over fifteen years,
but she now writes and travels with her husband.


Jean Nickel is a Library Technician at the Westglen School in Didsbury, AB.
Jeremy’s Song. (Lawrence High Yearbook Series; 3).

David A. Poulsen.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books, 2008.
96 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 978-155470-098-1.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Todd Kyle.

* /4

Cowboy Cool. (Lawrence High Yearbook Series; 4).

David A. Poulsen.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books, 2008.
95 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 978-155470-099-8.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Todd Kyle.

* /4


It wasn't exactly the sound I was expecting to hear.

I mean, there I was on my way to the washroom, and as I was passing room 313, I heard the
sound of a violin.

And this violin wasn't cranking out a little Hedley or Nickelback or even vintage Elton John.
Nope, this baby was classical as in classical music. (From <i>from Jeremy's Song</i>.)

In <i>Jeremy's Song</i>, the third novel in the “Lawrence High Yearbook Series,” tenth-grade
baseball star Brad becomes friends with Jeremy, a violin player whose talent is ignored by
everyone, even his father. Jeremy is also friends with Brad's love interest, Arlene, and the three
attend games and recitals to support each other. Brad is injured by Arlene's boyfriend's brother in
a game, and then faces Jeremy's refusal to perform in a big show his father has not shown up for.
He and Arlene teach him to be proud despite his father's indifference, while Arlene reveals her
now ex-boyfriend had conspired with his brother to injure Brad.

In <i>Cowboy Cool</i>, the fourth book in the series, computer geek Alex teams up with new
student and bullrider Kelly to sell bull-analysis reports to professional rodeo riders. He becomes
increasingly worried as Kelly appears to be linked to The Devil's Platoon, a local gang with a
vendetta against Lawrence High. When the gang defaces the school's sign, Alex and Kelly help
repaint it, but Kelly is confronted by gang members who insist he re-tag it, forcing him to make a
decision to defy them. A brief fight ensues, the gang leaves, and Kelly reveals how he'd been
trying to impress an ex-girlfriend by helping the gang.

These two high-interest/low-vocab novels are full of promise: Poulsen has created great narrative
voices in both Brad and Alex who tell their stories like teens would. The baseball and rodeo
scenes are exciting, and the plots have potential. Both books, however, suffer from poor editing,
leading to inconsistencies (Arlene's boyfriend's brother is referred to as both Tyler and Matt),
incomplete characterization (the members of the gang aren't even named, including their
ubiquitous "leader"), and an incomplete backstory (why does the gang have a vendetta against
the school?). The highly caricatured gang is referred to as "the worst gang around - not the kind
of people parents want their daughters - or sons - associating with." To which a reader might
ask, is there a kind of gang parents would want them associating with?

For compelling gang drama, try Alison van Diepen's <i>Snitch</i> instead and leave this crew
alone. Both books are not recommended.

Not recommended.

Todd Kyle, a former President of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians, is currently
a library branch manager in Mississauga, ON.

Sophie’s Treason.

Beverley Boissery.
Toronto, ON: Boardwalk/Dundurn, 2006.
251 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-1-55002-642-9.

Subject Heading:
Canada-History-Rebellion, 1837-1838-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

**½ /4


“What have I told you ever since we came to Montreal?”

Sophie quickly looked across to Luc. This wasn’t the scolding she’d expected. “That I had to
watch what I said because we could all get into trouble. That if I said the wrong thing and the
wrong people heard me, we could all be charged with treason.”

“And, today you saw just how serious treason is, Sophie. That could have been any of us on trial.
A couple of the things we did during the rebellion made us just as guilty as some of those men.”

Luc nodded, his face haggard. “I feel terrible, Lady Theo. I know that I’m far more guilty than
some of them.”

The second book in Beverley Boissery’s “Sophie” trilogy, <i>Sophie’s Treason</i>, picks up
from where <i>Sophie’s Rebellion</i> concluded. After quelling the 1837-1838 French
Rebellion in Lower Canada, the English are looking to punish the insurgents and anyone who
played a role in helping to fuel the unrest. As a result, young Sophie Mallory and Luc Moriset
and their families and friends are all in danger or recriminations.

<i>Sophie’s Treason</i> begins in Montreal in December 1838, two months after Sophie and
Luc’s first meeting in Vermont. Luc’s brother, Marc, is on trial for treason, while Sophie’s
father, Benjamin, is missing, believed to have been either imprisoned or killed by the British. As
it turns out, Benjamin is, indeed, alive, unjustly imprisoned for supposedly engaging in war
against the British. Adding to the complexity of the situation is Benjamin’s amnesia, a result of
his injuries after severe punishment from his captors.

Primarily a historian and author of nonfiction, Boissery’s attention to detail is commendable. At
the same time, however, it does conflict somewhat with the needs of her young adult, middle
school audience. Over 250 pages in length, with 21 chapters, the book seems sometimes to
progress only slowly. At the heart of <i>Sophie’s Treason</i> is courtroom procedure and legal
maneuverings—essentially a battle to keep Marc from the death penalty. Many young adult
readers will find some of these episodes burdensome. It is an unfortunate criticism because
Boissery writes well. She is descriptive and articulate, but in <i>Sophie’s Treason</i>, as with
<i>Sophie’s Rebellion</i>, the density of the book is likely to see many readers’ attention waiver
and drop off before they have the chance to develop the interest necessary for them to want to see
the book through to its conclusion.

Lady Theodosia Thornleigh is a strong female character who, like most of the story’s central
characters, is well crafted, containing a satisfying mix of depth and complexity. Perhaps even
more so than either Sophie or Luc, in my opinion, Lady Theo emerges from <i>Sophie’s
Treason</i> as the book’s heroic figure.

I was surprised by the enthusiastic optimism of the characters at the end of the book. Although
Marc and Benjamin’s lives are spared, in the 1830s, transportation to Van Diemen’s Land or the
penal settlements of New South Wales was often viewed as worse than a death sentence, leading
on some occasions to suicide. Certainly, there would have been few cases in which a convict
began his transportation journey with dreams of “fortunes and adventures” awaiting him in the
penal colony.

With her historian’s eye, Boissery is an author worthy of inclusion in middle school and high
school history classes. Although the central characters are fictional, in her concluding historical
note, Boissery informs readers that some characters are based on real life figures. Mature
teenaged readers with an interest in Canadian history will likely enjoy Boissery’s work. Those
willing to persevere through the slower stages of the narrative will find themselves rewarded
with a detailed, carefully constructed, often interesting story.

Recommended with reservations.

Gregory Bryan teaches children’s literature classes in the Faculty of Education at the University
of Manitoba.

Sophie’s Exile.

Beverley Boissery.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn Press, 2008.
279 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-1-55002-810-2.

Subject Headings:
Penal colonies-Australia-Juvenile fiction.
Canada-History-Rebellion, 1837-1838-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4

“There’s too much opportunity in this country,” she announced to all and sundry after she had
falsely accused yet another convict of theft. “People don’t know when they have it good.” She
was a thin, scrawny woman with a beakish kind of nose. Nobody had ever seen her supposed
husband, and explanations for his absence ran from “he’s run away” to “she must have murdered
him with that nose of hers.”

Because Mrs. Sharpe prided herself on knowing all the latest gossip, Lady Theo groaned as she
set off to have tea with her unwelcome guest. “Mary, you can help me entertain her. It’s the least
you can do.”

Cousin Mary looked mutinous. “I can’t stand the woman. She wants to know every secret. I feel
like making things up just so she’ll go away.”

<i>Sophie’s Exile</i> is the final book in Beverley Boissery’s “Sophie” book trilogy, detailing
the challenges and adventures of young Sophie Mallory. <i>Sophie’s Exile</i> continues the
story told in <i>Sophie’s Rebellion</i> and <i>Sophie’s Treason</i>. In the first book in the
series, Sophie found herself caught in the Rebellion in Lower Canada during 1837 and 1838. In
the second book in the series, Sophie and her guardian, Lady Theodosia Thornleigh, and friend,
Luc Moriset, struggled to prevent Sophie’s father and Marc Moriset from death at the gallows for
their alleged involvement in the rebellion. In <i>Sophie’s Exile</i>, the story continues in the
penal colony of New South Wales where Benjamin Mallory and Marc Moriset have been
transported as convicts.

Sophie, Lady Theo and Luc travel from London to Sydney aboard <i>HMS Swiftsail</i>, a
tiresome five month journey that sees the immigrants anxious to reach their destination. Alas,
despite their desire to be near Benjamin and Marc, the new arrivals are dismayed when, before
they have even disembarked, one of the first sights they see in the new colony is that of a convict
chain gang, shackled together, working as beasts of burden beneath the whip of a guard. The
scene is a stark reminder to Sophie and her companions that life in New South Wales is going to
be harsh, particularly so for their convict loved ones.

<i>Sophie’s Exile</i> commences in November 1840, by which time Sophie is now 14 and Luc
is 15. I was particularly impressed by the opening scenes in the book—the arrival of the
<i>Swiftsail</i> in Sydney’s harbour. Given Australia’s physical isolation, one can imagine the
interest and excitement that the rare arrival of a passenger ship would have generated in 1840.
Without saying so (she does a great job of showing, rather than telling), Boissery illustrates that
excitement with such things as a flotilla of boats meeting the arriving ship, including a
newspaper man rowing out to greet the ship, anxious to purchase foreign newspapers. The
immigrants are also able to sell their “ship’s clothes” because, although soiled from the long
voyage, the clothes reflect the fashions of London. The dock is crowded with people waiting to
see the new arrivals disembark from the ship. It is a scene of excitement and curiosity, extremely
well crafted by Boissery.

Boissery’s descriptive writing has always been a feature of the Sophie books. Twenty-nine
chapters and 279 pages in length, the final instalment in the series is longer than its predecessors.
Whereas the first two books tended occasionally to drag along slowly, I was pleased to note that
Boissery’s <i>Sophie’s Exile</i> plot line contains many more twists and turns and unexpected
surprises which help to make the story less predictable than in the first two books and, as a result,
more engaging. A respected historian, Boissery has done her research into Australia’s convict
roots, and her knowledge of the historical and geographical setting is evident in the writing.
Boissery manages to incorporate that historical and geographical knowledge into the story in a
manner that provides an authentic and generally appropriately gloomy, challenging backdrop to
the main story events.

Boissery’s characters endure a variety of trials as they are confronted by the peculiar challenges
of life in Australia—the extreme heat and the women’s unsuitable heavy dresses, the threat of
such things as snakes and sharks, and escaped convict bushrangers. “In God’s name, what kind
of country is it?” demands Wynsham, the English butler, in disgust. Yet, later, the same butler
notes the opportunities that exist for him and for others in the new land. “The rules are so
different here,” Wynsham says. Certainly, the rules are different and, as the characters begin to
look upon New South Wales in different ways, they begin to acknowledge some of the charm of
the place, including first encounters with kangaroos and koalas, the eucalyptus smell of the gum
trees, and the vibrantly coloured birdlife. Boissery’s Australia is a land of contrasts, of beauty
and of peril. “For every pleasure, there [is] also the threat of danger.”

It would be remiss of me not to point out a peculiar error that should have been caught during the
editing stage of the book’s (indeed, the series’) production. On page 8 and 10, Luc’s surname is
spelled with a double letter “r” as Morriset. This caught my eye because, in book 2, Boissery had
spelled the name with one “r” as Moriset. I then flicked back to the first book in the series and
saw that Boissery had originally spelled the name as Morriset, with the double “r.” Furthermore,
as I proceeded through the third book, I discovered that, despite the page 8 and page 10 spellings,
elsewhere (for instance, on page 74 and 77) the spelling reverts to a single “r.” Historical records
often contain conflicting spellings and, indeed, immigrants occasionally changed their names or
the spelling of their names. Given that the Moriset character name is a fictional product of
Boissery’s imagination and given the absence of any discussion to the contrary, the confused
spellings in the book series are not the product of historical records or name changes but, rather,
careless editing.

Despite being the third book in a trilogy, <i>Sophie’s Exile</i> can stand alone. I consider the
third book to be the best in the series and, unlike with the second book, a reader can choose to
read <i>Sophie’s Exile</i> without having read the work that preceded it. The arrival in a new
land is a significant departure from the previous two books. Boissery also succinctly provides
whatever book one or book two details are necessary to understand and enjoy the final book. The
book cover also suggests the publisher’s desire for consumers to view <i>Sophie’s Exile</i> as a
book that can stand alone. Whereas the cover images for the first two books consisted of
reproductions of historic paintings from the period portrayed in the books, the cover for
<i>Sophie’s Exile</i> features a photographic image.

Again including strong, complex characters, <i>Sophie’s Exile</i> is more plot-driven and
features a more engaging narrative than the earlier books in the trilogy. Middle school readers
with an interest in history will enjoy Boissery’s writing. Schoolteachers desiring to employ
historically accurate fictional writing in the classroom will do well to consider the classroom
inclusion of <i>Sophie’s Exile</i>.


Gregory Bryan teaches children’s literature and literacy education classes in the Faculty of
Education at the University of Manitoba.

She Loves You.

Rhonda Batchelor.
Toronto, ON: Dundurn Press, 2008.
140 pp., pbk., $11.99.
ISBN 978-1-55002-789-1.

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Danya David.

*** /4


The most amazing thing I’m finding about this writing business is that I really don’t know what
I’m thinking deep down, until I suddenly see it there on the page. It’s hard to explain. It’s kind of
a mystical experience for me when that happens—a ‘magical mystery tour.’

Rhonda Batchelor’s first juvenile novel, <i>She Loves You</i>, flashes back to 1969 to give an
engaging portrait of 14-year-old Annie Ward’s life. Annie, after leaving the school for the gifted
where she thrived in every way, begins a new and less encouraging life in her high school.
new world presents her with all the issues that young people confront every day- bullying,
sexuality, alienation- but she finds herself navigating these waters largely alone, albeit with rare
appearances from a few individuals who catalyze and impact her discoveries in different ways.
Annie is still mourning the loss of her father and the abandonment of her only true friend, Zoe.
She lives alone with her mother, and although the two have a nurturing relationship, Annie
begins to isolate herself from everyone when rumours of her supposed sexual orientation start to
When chatter leaks to the school administration, Annie is called in by the school counsellor, Mr.
Manning, who questions Annie as to her friendships and home life, requesting that she start
writing in order to begin working through her “problems.’ Annie is not convinced that she is the
one with the problems, but she remains open to the idea of writing out her thoughts, and she
begins to see the potential of writing to enable a person to remain true to him/herself. Writing
and the Beatles become Annie’s tools of self-assertion.

Annie is smart and has a certain confidence about who she is and what she will stand for. She has
no desire to join the cool kids nor align herself with bullies who feed off of each other’s
insecurities. Lonely and often drowning in her self-dialogue, distancing herself from all including
her beloved mother, she remains firm in her values and never seems to consider compromising
her core. She is indeed resilient, but this is not easy because she is sensitive and full of teenage
angst, desiring to connect with real people and forge meaningful relationships. She is soon drawn
to a local group of hippies, an action which sets her off onto a sort of double-tracked life.

<i>She Loves You</i> is a coming of age story, set in the Sixties, when ‘daring to be different’
summed-up human aspirations for many. Part of Batchelor’s goal with this book is to challenge
this assumption. Batchelor seems to be claiming that this era was not all about free love and
justice; that even hippies were capable of prejudice and bullying, that there was still much social
injustice despite what we tend to think. Batchelor has “troubled” Annie ironically emerge as one
of the few open-minded and compassionate individuals in her world. Although Annie is branded
with many labels- “half-orphan”, “lezzie”- she is all the while ever exploring how and in which
way or ways she may want to brand herself. She does not judge social deviance, though neither
does she get swept away with drugs and bohemian romanticism. She remains witty, insightful,
and very strong.

Literature for children and young adults should reflect the complexity and trials characteristic of
their age, but it should also ultimately celebrate young people’s resilience and desire to be their
own. <i>She Loves You</i> succeeds in this. Any young person who has felt different or who
craved options beyond what they see in their high school environment will appreciate or at least
relate to this book in some way.

A few areas could have been more thoroughly developed. At times, the insertion of the narrator’s
voice seems forced and erratic. The reader craves more of Annie’s own voice and less narration.
Also, Annie’s acceptance of her guidance counsellor needs more credence. She opens up to him
too quickly. Last, we all know better than to judge a book by its cover though, admittedly, this
book sat at my desk untouched for too long only because of its tacky sixties-chic cover with its
bland photo and red bubble font which convinced me that I was about to read a despondent girl’s
diary about world peace. The cover needs revamping because no one would know that the story
inside is actually much more exciting.
Otherwise, <i>She Loves You</i> is a memorable story with characters that are real and
messages that resonate.


Danya David is a graduate of UBC’s Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program.

Reena: A Father’s Story.

Manjit Virk.
Surrey, BC: Heritage House, 2008.
171 pp., hardcover, $29.95.
ISBN 978-1-894974-51-6.

Subject Headings:
Virk, Manjit, 1955-
Virk, Reena, 1983-1997.
Murder-British Columbia-Victoria.
Teenage girls-Crimes against-British Columbia-Victoria.
Trials (Murder)-British Columbia.
Parents of murder victims-British Columbia-Biography.

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

***½ /4


Our doorbell rang non-stop, the phone kept ringing, and people and cars thronged the street.
Television news reporters with vans, satellite dishes and cameras surrounded the house. I was in
a daze; I had never experienced such an onslaught. Our photos were pasted on all sorts of
newspapers. It felt as if our two-story home was part of a war zone, with burning missiles coming
from all directions late at night and early in the morning.

I was devastated, constantly crying, and just wanted to be alone, but the media did not give us
any privacy to grieve the death of our daughter. Morning to night, we received calls from all over
Canada, the United States and countries abroad: Reena's death had made international headlines.

<i>Reena: A Father’s Story</i> is the tragic story of Reena Virk, a 14-year-old girl, brutally
murdered by fellow students in Victoria in 1997. In addition to telling the story of Reena's brief
life and the trials of her killer, <i>Reena</i> tells her father's story. We learn of his early life in
India, the move to Canada, his marriage and the raising of three children and his employment
history. We also learn of the poor relationship Manjit had with a daughter he deeply loved but
didn't understand. For some reason, unknown to her father, Reena rejected her family, and this
decision led to her death. Had she accepted her father's wise counsel, she would likely still
be alive.
Author Manjit Virk has an MA in English. His writing style is uncomplicated and suitable for the
intended readership. He also writes with a passion that only someone who has suffered a great
loss can appreciate. His grief is palpable, and, as a result, <i>Reena</i> is a heart-wrenching

<i>Reena</i> could be called <i>Manjit's Story</i> for there is much more in the book about
him than his daughter. Her death is the focal point of <i>Reena</i>, but we also learn a great
deal about Indian society and her father's outlook on life. In addition, Virk writes a scathing
account of his treatment at the hands of the B.C. Ministry of Children and Families and the news
media. He
is also very critical, justifiably so in light of what happened to the primary killer of his daughter,
of the B.C. justice system. After reading his book, few will disagree with his charge that "there
were no winners except for defence lawyers; we were all losers, including the taxpayer."

<i>Reena</i> has a timeline of events in the Reena Virk story. It also has a family tree starting
with Reena's grandparents. It is illustrated throughout with functional black and white family
photos from happier times. There are coloured photos of Reena and Reena and her family on the
book's cover. <i>Reena</i> could be used as classroom support if the class is dealing with issues
such as immigration, racism, justice, and adolescence.

Highly Recommended.

Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.

Watching July.

Christine Hart.
Toronto, ON: Sumach Press, 2008.
205 pp., pbk. 205 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-894549-71-4.

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.
*** /4


“There you are,” Ryan stepped through the patio door. “I heard you were having a pretty good
time with some guy downstairs.” She assumed he was joking, but before she could answer he
kept going. “Chad said you were, like, grinding up against one of the guys down there.”

July felt acid rushing through her veins. Her eyebrows furrowed, still angry from abandonment,
she snapped, “Who the hell do you think you are? Me, dancing with other guys? Try me being
ditched, hanging out in a dark living room by myself, getting harassed by a blue-haired jerk,
feeling stupid as hell on the outside of somebody else’s crowd, then finally getting yanked into a
mosh pit only to be accosted by an elbow, a hand and now, you. Bite me,” she said and turned
her back. He walked over to her and touched her arm.

“Okay, I’m sorry, I get it. I didn’t mean to go all ‘jealous boyfriend’ on you, but I pictured you
with another guy and I just…I don’t know,’ he said sheepishly.

She didn’t pull away, so he turned her by her shoulders and hugged her. “I’m sorry, really. I
guess I’m a mildly territorial type….”

July is a 16-year-old who moves from her familiar urban life in Vancouver to the interior of
British Columbia. Instead of her friends, easy mobility and the mall, she is confronted with a new
school and countryside which seems both interesting and frightening at the same time. On top of
this physical upheaval, July has to deal with her emotions following the death of her mom in a hit
and run accident and a new lifestyle with Marie, her other parent.

Eventually July has a new girlfriend, Kari, and a boyfriend who lives just down the road. But as
the story goes on, Ryan becomes more and more demanding and controlling. What starts out as
love and attention begins to turn ugly. Added to this are various weird happenings, ‘freaky stuff’
that July just can’t ignore: the sensation that someone is watching her, strange words appearing
in her diary, her mother’s jade ring turning up in odd places. Is her mother trying to tell her
something from beyond the grave? Was there more to her death than July has realized?

This young adult novel includes elements of both suspense and romance and is vividly set in the
interior of British Columbia. Hart understands her characters, and so their speech and their
actions ring true. July is a strong female protagonist dealing with demanding relationships: her
new classmates, her second mother, her sister, her boyfriend. This romantic relationship is
especially important in the book and leads to questions around exploitation and abuse. July
confronts these and many other issues in this contemporary coming-of-age novel.

If there are any concerns, they are that Hart has perhaps been too ambitious for one short novel.
She touches themes of teenage rebellion, peer pressure, lesbian relationships, mental illness,
relationship abuse, grieving and the supernatural. At times, there seems to be too much for July –
and the reader! – to handle. One feels Hart wanted to pack everything in this first novel.

That criticism aside, the book moves quickly, and readers get a good sense of July’s feelings
through her diary entries. Young adults will be caught up in the roller coaster of emotions and
events which make up this most readable novel.


Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives
in Ottawa, ON, where she has turned her love of travel into a new career as a travel consultant.


David A. Poulsen.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter, 2008.
230 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-55470-095-0.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Pam Klassen-Dueck.

*** /4


But the last picture was the one I would remember, even though I’d seen it before. It was the
picture of all the naked bodies in the ditch. But this time, the picture zoomed in … once, twice,
three times … until there was just one body. He left that picture on the screen and turned to face

“Jews died in the war, make no mistake about that. So did Catholics, Protestants, Germans,
British, Americans, and Canadians. The war was a terrible thing. And if there was a holocaust
that would have been a terrible thing too. And there is evidence that it did happen … just as there
is evidence that it did not. I ask only that you think about this question very carefully: Did the
Holocaust happen? Do not let yourself be caught up in the agenda of a people who seek
compassion and pity and, when it is offered, conspire to use that outpouring of genuine human
emotion by well-meaning people to further their goal of world domination.”

Mr. R leaned toward us. “Think. Think and question and don’t merely accept the popular version
of history.”
Andy ‘Alamo’ Crockett doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. He has screwed things up with his hot (ex-
) girlfriend, he has just blown a wrestling match to a Jewish student from another school, and he
can’t blend in even among The Six, Parkerville Comprehensive High School’s group of misfits.
The point of high school, in general, is lost on Alamo - that is, until he starts Mr. Retzlaff’s
Grade 10 Social Studies class. Parkerville’s students love the funny, crisp, and demanding Mr. R.
When the Social Studies class begins to study the Holocaust, Mr. R asks only that they think for
themselves … but is that really all he’s asking?

The plot of <i>Numbers</i> seems to be based loosely on the story of Jim Keegstra, a former
public school teacher in Alberta who was convicted in the 1980s of hate speech against Jews. In
particular, he taught his Social Studies classes that the Holocaust was a fraud, and he frequently
made anti-Semitic remarks to his students. Although the plot in <i>Numbers</i> steers its own
fictional course – for example, Mr. R’s wrath is directed to an elderly Jewish woman who saved
his grandfather’s life many years prior to the story’s setting - the echoes of the Keegstra trial
resonate throughout the pages. Unfortunately, the text contains no direct reference to these
historical events which may have been illuminating for adolescent readers.

Poulsen did a good job with characterization, which was vital in order to explain how a
Holocaust denier could come to hold such sway over his audience. I appreciated, in particular,
how Poulsen traced Alamo’s gradual move toward anti-semitism, which was based in a context
of not fitting in with his peers, paired with his captivation by the charismatic teacher. This helps
to illuminate how Alamo could come to believe that the act of burning down an old Jewish
woman’s home was the right thing to do, even though the self-justifications are, of course,
horrifying. I did wish that
‘Numbers,’ the elderly woman who is the target of Mr. R’s anti-semitic rage, had received a
more in-depth exploration. With the exception of a brief mention in the book’s prologue, she
appears toward the end of the story and speaks only a few words. I would have loved to have
read more
about her life, including the things she endured during the war.

I was curious about the addition of a few subplots that didn’t seem vital to the book, such as the
story of the perpetually drunk uncle who lies dead in the Dodge pickup – in the middle of the
night while Alamo and his father are taking the truck to the teen’s Biscayne, which has a flat tire
– and so they have to try to figure out where to take the body, plus get the car back on the road.
This story, as morbid as the scene sounds, does inject some humour into the book, though. As
Alamo points out at the end of that particular chapter: “every time I thought about driving around
the countryside with a dead person in the pickup so we could change a tire, I had to work a little
at not laughing right there in the middle of the funeral.” Perhaps it contributes to Alamo’s
characterization as a loser since he becomes the butt of further jokes at school, a situation which
contributes to the explanation of how he becomes attracted to Mr. R’s ideas about history.

I appreciated the fact that the book offers no clear-cut answers to any of the issues it raises,
except for a lingering valuable caution to always think for oneself. In this light, the book has a
smart ending in which Alamo is asked to contribute his signature to a petition in support of Mr.
R. Instead, he subverts Mr. R’s admonition to think independently by signing the paper with
Numbers’ tattooed identification number.

<i>Numbers</i> isn’t limited to any particular audience as it will be of general interest to most
readers, but I’d recommend it, in particular, to young adult fans of historical fiction.


A middle years teacher, Pam Klassen-Dueck is presently a graduate student in the M.Ed.
program at Brock University.

Tesseracts Twelve: New Novellas of Canadian Fantastic Fiction.

Claude Lalumière, Ed.
Calgary, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2008.
285 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-15-9.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

*** /4


Unlike the miners who had discovered the creature, when the gold rush had petered out Samuel
had given up on his stake and settled into his one-room cabin, writing the odd dispatch for the
local rag and tutoring ill-lettered prospectors in exchange for flakes of gold dust or odd fossils
that they felt had no value. Once Fanny Alice had even given him a molar from what Samuel
assumed was a mammoth, one she’d been given by a customer, and that tooth – larger than his
fist, yellowed and dirty and well-worn from an apparently long life of grinding down vegetation
– held a special place of pride in his small collection. She had told him that it had special
“properties,” but he had dismissed that as an exaggeration.

It so happened that Samuel was just bidding farewell to one of his students – scraggly and
unkempt, smelling of tallow and burnt caribou flesh, as they all did – when a small crowd
seemed to spontaneously form on the icy patch of road beside his sagging grey front stoop. He
blinked in surprise at the sight of so many people, wondering if perhaps he’d drunkenly promised
a group lesson the other night while consuming his self-assigned monthly allotment of alcohol.
<i>Tesseracts Twelve</i> is the latest anthology in the Tesseracts series of speculative fiction.
This time, they take a look at “novellas,” those stories too lengthy to be normally considered
short stories, but too short to be considered novels. As in past collections, the authors are all
Canadian writers. The seven stories range in length from 28 to 57 pages. The 285 pages include a
two page foreword by one editor, a two page afterword by the other editor, and three pages of
biographies of the authors. In addition, there are four pages listing other titles by this publisher.

The first story in the anthology is “Ancients of the Earth,” a tale of what happens in the early
1900's when a prehistoric shaman’s curse results in mammoths and cavemen appearing in
Dawson City in the Yukon. Samuel, a former schoolteacher, and Fannie Alice, a lady with a
reputation, have to combat the resulting problems.

This story is followed by “Beneath the Skin,” a fantasy story set in ancient Japan. A samurai,
Hirota Satoshi, and the woman he was given as a gift, Akemi, journey with Hirota’s hard
drinking friend, Hideki, to solve the mystery of why a village can’t afford to pay its taxes.

The third tale in the collection is “Intersections,” an urban fantasy set in the city of Montreal. It
revolves around the love life of two women who have a serious problem caused by their psychic
powers. Things happen over which they have no control.

“The Story of the Woman and Her Dog,” takes place in Toronto, although the narrative is more
like something out of the Arabian Nights. This is a circular tale that involves Natasha and her
very complicated relationships, and a series of stories.

The next story, “Ringing the Changes in Okotoks, Alberta,” offers an amusing change of pace
wherein we have the local folk in a small town drawn into pagan rituals to bring prosperity. An
eclectic collection of town counsellors battle each other in the meetings while entertaining a
growing suspicion that something supernatural is afoot.

“Wonjjang and the Madman of Pyongyang” leads the reader into a wacky world of the superhero
as the commercialized versions battle supervillains in Korea. We follow the adventures of
Wonjjang as he tries to defeat Kim Noh Wang while struggling with the everyday problems of an
employer, a mother, and a growing interest in the opposite sex.

The final story in the anthology is “Wylde’s Kingdom.” Taking realistic survivor television to the
extreme, Max is thrown into situations where his life is constantly in jeopardy. The favourite
theme of the show is having Max eliminate the last members of a dangerous species that are on
the brink of extinction anyway.
For the lovers of anthologies, with the advantage of the longer format providing a more complex
tale, the collection covers the broad range of speculative fiction and fantasy, humour, cynical,
romance and lost love. Among these different, well-written stories, different, everyone should
find a few favourites.


Ronald Hore, involved with writer’s groups for several years, retired from the business world in
Winnipeg, MB.

Hidden Talent. (Bayview High).

H. J. Lewis.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada (Published by arrangement with Tea Leaf Press), 2008.
128 pp., pbk., $7.95.
ISBN 978-0-7791-7530-7.

Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.

Review by Elaine Fuhr.

***½ /4


The Sad and Pathetic Life of Vishal Chopra. It sounded like a movie title. He got out his video
camera and set it up on the tripod. Then he sat down in front of the camera. With the viewfinder
turned around, he could see himself on the tiny screen.

Using the remote control, he zoomed in and hit the record button. "Hello," he said to the camera.
My name is Vish. It's Saturday night and I'm trapped in my room. Don't tell anyone, but I'd rather
be watching the Cindalee Ashley movie right now." Fade to black.

It doesn't matter how hard he tries, Vish cannot be the excellent student that his brother and sister
are. Now they're off to further their educations and establish awesome careers, but Vish can't
even pass a test in high school. Then there's the video camera he bought with his savings, and
now his parents have grounded him because he refuses to take it back. They just don't
understand, but then, they also don't know what his hopes and plans are because Vish does not
want to let anyone know. On top of all that, Mara, his girlfriend is jealous of a new girl that Vish
has to do a project with, and Vish is feeling pressured from all angles. Does he have what it takes
to make movies? He just doesn't know where to start so he plans to enter a video contest and then
finds help and support in his new friend, the last person he would ever believe knows anything
about movies.

The “Bayview High” series deals with real issues and pressures faced by teens in today’s high
schools. H. J. Lewis's character, Vish, faces pressure from family and friends but also from
himself. His lack of confidence in his abilities makes progress slow and painful, but he is
determined to do his best. Author H.J. Lewis tells it like it is. And from a teacher's point of view,
I know only too well what young teens face in their daily lives. Young readers will relate to the
characters and issues in this book. It is written with students of all reading abilities in mind and
includes a very helpful glossary on the final pages.

Highly Recommended.

Elaine Fuhr, a retired elementary and middle school teacher, lives in Alberta.

What Is Canada? The Ultimate Canadian Quiz Book.

Dan de Figueiredo.
Edmonton, AB: Blue Bike Books (Distributed by Lone Pine), 2008.
392 pp., pbk., $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-897278-50-5.

Subject Heading:

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Greg Bak.

*** /4


What British-born Canadian writer and naturalist is credited with the following quotation, which
in the light of events now, seems ironic, “Behind me I had the power of 10,000 miles of
wilderness, trees that have never told a lie, though some of them have stood for 2000 years”?
A. David Suzuki
B. Conrad Black
C. Archibald Belaney
Its 392 pages filled with 713 questions and answers, <i>What Is Canada?</i> has quiz questions
to meet the interests of every Canadian. What is more, those pages are laid out with generous
white space, comfortably large fonts and specially-commissioned illustrations, caricatures and
cartoons by a cast of six Canadian illustrators. Questions and answers are always paired on the
front and back of the same page, thus eliminating the need for flipping from the front to back of
the book or chapter. This is a nicely produced work with a good sense of humour and plenty of
well-researched questions and answers.

It also is intended for the adult book market. This is demonstrated equally by the size of the book
and by questions on Robertson Davies’ off-duty ruminations on Canadian identity and the
literary works of Reverend George Munro Grant.

Some kids will love it, perhaps. Perhaps some kids will read it obsessively. Far more likely, the
book will become a resource for people looking for a few unusual facts about the typical topics
of Canadian studies, including geography, literature, First Nations, history in all of its varieties,
sports, current affairs or virtually any other subject. Whether a student is completing a project
and wants a few additional facts, or a teacher is setting a fun quiz, <i>What is Canada?</i> will
meet the bill. And then some.

The answer to the above question is C, Archibald Belaney. And it is a tribute to the enthusiasm
of the author that the answer key includes one of his frequent paragraphs of explanation and
elucidation: “Belaney was of course known more famously as Grey Owl. As Grey Owl, he lived
the life of an Aboriginal and dressed the part as well. He grew his hair long and wore Native
clothing. Belaney claimed his father was Scottish and his mother was Apache. He was an
eloquent speaker who made numerous lecture tours across North America and, to his credit,
wrote books on the need to preserve the forests, wildlife and Native culture. It was only
discovered after his death in 1938 that he was in fact an Englishman, born in Hastings.”

This is not just a quiz book. Its an education.


Greg Bak is a an archivist with Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, ON.

It Happened on the Underground Railroad.

Tricia Martineau Wagner.
Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2007.
127 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-0-7627-4001-7.

Subject Headings:
Underground railroad-Anecdotes.
Fugitive slaves-United States-Anecdotes.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Thomas F. Chambers.

*** /4


Arnold Gragston began making three to four trips a month across the Ohio River, rowing under
moonless night skies. Sometimes he carried just a few people; other times his boat was full.
Instead of gaining his own freedom, he helped others attain theirs. Over a four-year period, he
helped liberate close to three hundred slaves, and never did he ask for anything in return.

In 1863 after rowing twelve fugitives across the river, Arnold was nearly apprehended. To avoid
being caught, he hid out for weeks, sleeping in fields and in the woods. He was married by this
time, and when an opportunity finally presented itself, he took his wife Sallie as his last
passenger across the Ohio River. It seemed like he was pulling the weight of the world in the
boat that night, rowing them toward the familiar light on the bank.

The Underground Railroad was a means by which escaped slaves in the United States gained
their freedom, often ending up in Canada. It was not a railroad at all but a series of safe houses
where friendly people opposed to slavery hid the escapees and helped them progress along the
route. Because rewards were often offered for the slaves’ capture and return, assisting the
escapees could be very dangerous. If caught, the slaves were often brutally treated. <i>It
Happened On The Underground Railroad</i> tells some of the heroic tales of the escaped slaves
and the risks taken by the good people who helped them. It is an example of creative nonfiction.
Since details about how many of the slaves escaped are often vague, the author fills in the gaps
with guesswork. This works well because the stories are believable.

<i>It Happened on the Underground Railroad</i> has 23 chapters which vary in length from four
to six pages each. Each tells the tale of one slave, or family of slaves, and the courageous people
who aided them. A number are quite remarkable. One of the strangest is that of Henry Brown.
Brown had himself nailed shut inside a box and mailed from Richmond, Virginia, to
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During this journey, the box was very roughly treated, and Brown
could easily have died. That he agreed to try and escape in this fashion shows how desperate he
Prices are given for the sale of slaves. The amounts will mean nothing to readers. In the twenty
first century, $1,000 sounds like a small amount, but in the 1850's it was a huge sum. A rough
estimate of what $1.00 could buy at the time these stories took place would make them more

The book has an index, a useful bibliography of secondary sources and a map of selected escape
routes. The map is too small and vague to be of much use. A special feature, Underground
Railroad Facts and Trivia, is interesting and informative. Examples include "More than four
million slaves were set free when the Civil War ended in 1865" and "Twelve American
presidents owned slaves, and eight of them owned slaves while serving as president."

<i>It Happened on the Underground Railroad</i> is probably best suited to recreational reading
though it does raise some serious issues about democracy in the United States when the
Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal." Anyone interested in the
current state of American politics will find the book valuable.

Tricia Martineau Wagner, author of this interesting book, has written two similar books, <i>It
Happened on the Oregon Trail</i> and <i>African American Women of the Old West</i>. Prior
to taking up writing, she was an elementary school teacher and reading specialist.


Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.

To Be My Father’s Daughter.

Carmelita McGrath. Research/writing by Sharon Halfyard. Marion Cheeks, ed.
St. John’s, NL: Educational Resource Development Co-operative, 2008.
80 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-9688806-2-3.

Subject Headings:
Coaker, W.F. (William Ford), Sir, 1871-1938-Fiction.
Coaker, Camilla-Fiction.
Fisherman’s Protective Union of Newfoundland-Fiction.
Fisheries-Newfoundland and Labrador-History-20th century-Fiction.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Beverly Fitzpatrick.

*** /4
My father was Sir William Coaker, founder of the Fisherman’s protective Union, the greatest
labour movement in Newfoundland history. Men make history; women like me, it seems, save it
in scrapbooks.

Portrayed through the eyes and memories of his daughter Camilla, Sir William Coaker, a well-
known political figure in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, is presented to readers as
both as a visionary and a father. This work of historical fiction, interspersed with factual
information and historical documents pertaining to William Coaker’s leadership in the labour
movement, is brought alive by the human element that resides in the work of Sharon Halfyard,
Carmelita McGrath, and Marion Cheeks.

This story is as much Camilla’s as it is her father’s story, thus making it appealing to a diverse
group of readers. For those who want history, Sir William Coakers’ story is recounted in clear,
yet detailed text. For those who will connect with what it is like to be the only child and daughter
of a famous man in the early 1900s, this is a story worth reading. It should interest both females
and males with its content and visual displays.

The graphic presentation of the book is remarkable. The cover, done in hues of ancient
photographs, with the vibrant colour of the flowers, brings the past alive. The heavy glossy pages
carry the weight of history. This illustrated book documentary of Sir William Coaker and his
legacy will appeal to adult literacy learners, high school students, and anyone interested in
Newfoundland history. However, the fact that this book is highly illustrated should not deter the
serious history reader. Because the amount of text in this slim volume may not appeal to reluctant
readers, it should not be perceived as an “easy read.” Instead, it will be challenging to many as it
is so detailed throughout.

The balance of fact and fiction is a fascinating way to depict history and the people who helped
shaped that history. The timeline of historical events at the end of the book will answer any
questions about the authenticity of the text while the acknowledgments give support to the
imagination that is used in giving voice to Sir William Coaker and his daughter. Readers are
given the opportunity to share in the life of Camilla as well as her father through photographs,
newspaper clippings, letters, and other personal items.

<i>To Be My Father’s Daughter</i> is a book meant to be revisited rather than read in one
sitting. It should provoke rich discussions about what it meant to live and prosper in this era, to
be a female in the world of business and politics, and to be a father as well as a union and
political leader. This book belongs in the classrooms of Newfoundland students.


Beverly Fitzpatrick is a doctoral student at Memorial University in St. John's, NL
Frog or Prince? The Smart Girl’s Guide to Boyfriends.

Kaycee Jane.
Victoria, BC: Trafford, 2008.
230 pp., pbk., $29.95.
ISBN 978-1-4251-6938-1.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*½ /4


Lately, things have been getting really confusing. Stuff comes up that has nothing to do with
what she and Ethan started fighting about. This stuff is actually a list of what Natalie hasn’t been
doing for him lately; the things she does do for him are never mentioned. Sometimes she just
stares at him. She can’t believe what she’s hearing. What he’s saying is not true, but she doesn’t
know exactly why. She worries that he’s growing to know her by what she doesn’t do for him,
but then she throws her own list of his “won’t do’s” at him, too. The last time they had one of
these ugly
arguments, Natalie felt so messed up she had to back out of her promise to help with a birthday
dinner for Meghan’s dad, which was so not her! But Natalie felt that if she hadn’t stayed to fix
things up with Ethan, they wouldn’t still be together.

Vancouver author Kaycee Jane has written a book about finding the right guy. She provides
several strategies and exercises to help women recognize what they want and need in a
relationship. The filtering skills acquired in the Prince/Frog List can be used as a relationship
evaluation tool, and the self-knowledge acquired by following the Setting the Bar exercise and
completing the Get-To-Know-Yourself exercises will help women build and identify healthy
relationships. Incorporated into this book are short relationship stories with dialogue. Readers
follow along as Natalie, Meghan, Ella and Elizabeth try to find the Prince in their lives. By
providing examples of conversations in these relationships, readers will recognize if the men
these women are dating are Princes or Frogs. Natalie tries to deal with invalidation in her
relationship with Sean while Ella demonstrates how to get her needs met in a relationship. Many
women will
identify with the relationship stories and examples in this book as well as with the pain evident in
the dialogue and the mistakes identified in the “what went wrong” sections.
Although this book does provide examples of women maintaining their self-respect and making
smart choices in their relationships, I found this book very difficult to read. The writing was
disorganized at times, and this made the book seem lengthy and repetitive. In addition, I found
few swear words the author chose to use in this book were unnecessary and jarring in context.
There are hundreds of relationship self-help books on the market, but this is not one I would

Kaycee Jones has a degree in Business Administration and is currently working towards
completing an Executive MBA.

Not recommended.

Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library ion Cold Lake, AB.

Reality Rules: A Guide to Nonfiction Reading Interests. (Genreflecting Advisory Series).

Elizabeth Fraser.
Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008.
246 pp., hardcover, $50.76.
ISBN 978-1-59158-563-3.

Subject Headings:
Teenagers-Books and reading-United States-Bibliography.
Readers’ advisory services-United States.


Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4

When I encounter a retrospective selection tool that is published in the United States, I must
confess that I usually assume that it will likely have little, if any, Canadian content, and that,
while the selection tool, itself, may be useful, I’m going to have to find some way to locate the
complementary Canadian books. However, <i>Reality Rules</i>, with its most generous portion
of Canadian authored/published books, absolutely contradicted my preconception. Undoubtedly,
the fact that the book’s author, Elizabeth “Betsy” Fraser, is a Canadian librarian who works in
the Calgary Public Library system, contributed to the work’s most inclusive contents.

<i>Reality Rules</i> fills a most important gap. Too often, the term “recreational reading” is
equated with just reading books and, in turn, with those books only being fiction. Nonfiction
books, often equated with “information” books, are unfortunately too often excluded from
consideration as fare for recreational reading. However, reading interest studies consistently
reveal that nonfiction plays a significant role in what males select for their free reading.

Reading Fraser’s four-page “Introduction” is an essential starting point. There, she clearly sets
out the volume’s purpose and scope as well as the criteria used in selecting the items for
inclusion. As well, she clearly explains how the book is organized and the parts of each entry.
Speaking to purpose, Fraser, says: “This guide is intended to help provide young adult librarians
with a wide range of choices from which to answer readers’ advisory questions.” As to the
work’s scope, Fraser explains: “The genres included in this book are those chosen most often by
teens for recreational reading.” She adds that adult books of interest to teens have been included,
and that, in the main, the books included have been published since 2000 although “acclaimed
titles with older publication dates that are still popular with teen readers have also been
included.” She also explains that the book’s contents are “a representative sampling rather than a
comprehensive list of all nonfiction titles for teens.” In addition to the nonfiction books’s
contents being assessed according to the five criteria of authority, organization, style, design and
illustrations, each book’s popularity with teens was also considered.

The contents of <i>Reality Rules</i> are divided into three major sections: Part 1, Nonfiction
Genres, which includes two chapters, True Adventure and True Crime; Part 2, Life Stories, also
consisting of two chapters, Memoirs and Autobiographies, and Biography, and Part 3, Nonfiction
Subject Interests. This last segment is the longest and contains seven chapters: History; Science,
Math, and the Environment; Sports; All About You; How To; The Arts; and Understanding and
Changing the World. Each chapter begins with a definition of the nonfiction area, a statement of
its appeal to adolescents, and then an explanation of how the particular chapter is organized. For
example, the contents of Chapter 7-Sports are subdivided into four subdivisions: Biographies,
Rules and Tips, The Greatest Games, and Sports in Action. Each chapter concludes with
“Consider Starting with...” and “Fiction Read-Alikes.” According to Fraser, the former “lists
titles from the chapter that are popular and highly accessible books. They represent a great
starting point for people who would like more information about a certain genre.” The latter
section, “Fiction Read-Alikes,” is a terrific inclusion as it suggests a number of novels whose
contents can be connected to the chapter’s nonfiction focus. For readers, especially boys, whose
reading diet might be entirely nonfiction, the “bridge” books in this section may suggest that
fiction actually has something to offer them.

Within each subgenre, entries are arranged alphabetically by subtitle. Books in a series that have
been written by various authors are entered under the name of the series. Entries include the
book’s author, title, publisher, publication date, and 10 digit ISBN. Symbols are used to indicate
each book’s suggested reading level. A most unfortunate typo occurred on p. xi which provides
the key to reading levels. “M” <i>should</i> read grades 6-8 , <i>not</i> ages 6-8, and “J”
<i>should</i> indicate grades 7-9. Additional symbols include one to indicate that the book has
won an award, and others suggest possible audiences, i.e.: books that both teens and adults will
enjoy; aimed at male readers, ie. boys; suitable for reluctant readers, suitable for use with book
groups/clubs; plus core titles that have stood the test of time.

Each book is briefly annotated, and the annotations, which are truly fresh and engaging, almost
function like mini-book talks. Some of the book entries are followed by “Now Try” suggestions
that suggest authors, subjects, themes or styles that connect with the book just described. For
example, following the entry for Priscilla Galloway’s <i>Archers, Alchemists, and 98 Other
Medieval Jobs You Might Have Loved or Loathed</i> can be found a “Now Try” that reads:

       Getting a picture of a society through its occupational choices is a novel presentation.
       Laurie Coulter tackles this challenge for the nineteenth century, taking into consideration
       the vast changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution and presenting a time line of what
       is happening in America. Readers are given a novel look at the country in her
       <i>Cowboys and Coffin Makers: One Hundred 19th-Century Jobs You Might Have
       Feared or Fancied</i>.

<i>Reality Rules</i> concludes with two appendices, “Nonfiction Readers’ Advisor Resources
for YA Librarians” and “Bibliography” plus an author/title index and a subject index.

In summary, <i>Reality Rules</i> is a superbly compiled reference work/selection tool that
should be owned by all public library systems and school divisions in Canada. Additionally,
librarians-in-training, whether school or public, could use the contents of <i>Reality Rules</i>
as an engaging introduction to the wide range of nonfiction that responds to teens’ recreational
reading interests.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is <i>CM’</i>’s editor.

24 Days in Brooks.

Dana Inkster (Writer & Director). Bonnie Thompson (Producer). Derek Mazur & Gradon
McCrea (Executive Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2007.
42 min., 02 sec., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9107 299.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Cathy Vincent-Linderoos.

**** /4

Written by a director sympathetic to new immigrants, <i>24 Days in Brooks</i> is a well-
constructed, impactful story about the first-ever strike at the largest meatpacking plant in
This DVD could be viewed as a motivational film for getting a union established at the factory-
workplace. However, it would also suit a Grade 8, 9 or 10 History or Social Sciences curriculum
unit on labour strikes. A teacher and class studying cultural diversity and immigration or human
rights and social justice issues in Canada in the new millennium would also profit from seeing it.

I see this film as a very sensitive, decidedly pro-union, look at the conditions and people that
brought about a union drive in 2005 at the slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant called Lakeside
Packers in Brooks, AB. The director showed interviews with a selection of immigrant workers,
many of whom had been extremely well-educated in their homelands. Numerous mentions were
made of workers' family issues via using photographs of immigrant workers' children. One
family-man in particular was a French-speaking diplomat whose job was to pick out bone
fragments from the raw meat on the assembly-line. Two of the interviewed workers were
women. Of particular note -- regarding workers' health and safety concerns – were the cautious
comments of the plant physician who was originally from South Africa. A lone company boss
gave voice to management's point of view. Other interviews ranged from the mayor to the union
president from
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 401 to some local workers. A few were
shown who were being very vocally anti-union, though this was not the case of all workers.
Picket-line conditions included a few scenes where racist comments were being directed at the

A teacher would be able to expand on several tangential issues which arise in this film. For
example, several questions loom large: why would some workers ever oppose the establishment
of unions at the workplace? Why do management personnel in general tend to oppose labour
unions, and what is it that unions do or provide for injured workers who require sick-leave
and monetary benefits until they are able to resume work? Other questions come to mind: how
might the director have shown a more management-favourable story? Do you think that would
have told the story accurately? Why or why not? How could workers' concerns be addressed by
the employer other than by a union coming into a workplace? Has this ever been done with good
results from labour's point of view? From management's point of view? What did the union boss
mean by repeatedly saying that there is no colour on this picket? Why were so many workers
hired by the employer from distant lands for this kind of work, do you think? Why, in general,
does Canada need to keep its immigration levels high? What changes might come about at the
federal level of government to our immigration intake levels? How do you feel about the way
race issues were handled in this film? How does your favorite newspaper handle stories about
strikes in its pages? How, at the outset, was the Alberta government was involved in this story?

I found the length of this film to be very good and the perfect length for a busy classroom. Be
prepared to be proud of some of the newest Canadian workers anywhere in the nation (arguably
these were the ones who had the most to lose by striking) because a very small group of
primarily visible-minority workers launched this strike, walked the picket lines agitating for fair
working conditions, and ultimately succeeded in winning the vote for a union at this plant --
against almost all the odds. It reminded me of the intriguing title of a book by Ted Chamberlin --
<i>If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories?</i> which is described elsewhere as "a
thoughtful and timely book which seeks to establish the condition for understanding to take place
across the cultural divides." Don't miss this film!

Highly Recommended.

Cathy Vincent-Linderoos taught school for a decade in Ontario where teachers' unions are alive
and well.

Sexy Inc. :Our Children Under Influence.

Sophie Bissonnette (Writer & Director). Patricia Bergeron (Producer). Yves Bisaillon (Executive
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2007.
35 min., 27 sec., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153E 9907 332.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Frank Loreto.

**** /4

If the feminist leaders of the 60s could have seen the world presented in <i>Sexy Inc.</i>, they
would no doubt shake their heads in frustration. According to the world presented in this film,
their work has amounted to very little. <i>Sexy Inc.</i> looks at the hypersexualization of young
girls in our society and shows how they are being thrown into an adult world with little to no
protection or understanding. When being a "Pussy Cat Doll" is deemed as empowering to
women, we should be very afraid.

In the past five to six years, young girls have been presented a model that says that they have to
be "hot" if they want to be popular. This model of "hotness" comes from the media where girls
are seen as objects in videos or as Britney Spears sings, "I'm a slave for you." Fashion "is
alarming, as clothing has been eroticized--especially for little girls." While boys can wear
oversized t-shirts and baggy pants, young girls are encouraged to wear thongs, tank tops and
spaghetti straps. The word "SEXY" or Playboy bunny logos appear on clothes for children. G-
strings for eight-year-olds are also available. A "normal" little girl now is to wear big boots, belly
shirts and short skirts. She can carry an "I love shopping" purse. Shopping "has replaced
religion." According to the film, young
girls can buy padded bras from the Bratz company. The multi-million dollar market Bratz dolls
are so popular that the company has included a Baby Bratz line which features sexy looking
babies. Children can get lured in even earlier.

The sexualizing of little girls is allowing for the "blurring of sexual lines." Ads featuring grown
women sucking on lollipops or dressing like children confuse childhood with sexuality. In one
scene in the film, a group of teen girls is asked to choose which ad appears in a teen magazine
and which appears in a porn magazine. The girls are unable to tell which is which.

This film is very disturbing and should be required viewing for parents. That line of defense
seems to have failed as parents actually purchase these items for their daughters. <i>Sexy
Inc.</i> is a warning cry to parents and society that something bad is happening to children and
the world seems not to care.

Due to the language and content in the film, <i>Sexy Inc.</i> is not recommended for children,
but it should be required viewing for parents. Parts of the film could be shown in any class, but
in its entirety, <i>Sexy Inc.</i> should be used only with mature students. This is a painful film
to watch, but the message has to be told. Included with the disk is a Facilitation Guide which
provides strategies for using the film in a presentation or discussion. Also included are websites
for further exploration.

Highly Recommended.

Frank Loreto is a teacher-librarian at St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Brampton, ON.

Totem: Return and Renewal.

Gil Cardinal (Writer & Director). William Belcourt (Associate Producer). Bonnie Thompson
(Producer). Derek mazur (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2008.
23 min., 3 sec., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9107 136.

Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Joanne Peters.

*** /4

What is the iconic image that comes to mind when you hear the name of a West Coast Native
tribe such as the Haisla? In all likelihood, a totem pole. Totem poles fulfilled various functions.
Sometimes, they served much the same purpose as a heraldic shield, being erected in the place
where a family group lived. Other times, they served as part of the architectural detail of a
dwelling place. Finally, they served as grave markers, as mortuary poles. Regardless of their
function, many of these poles carved during the latter part of the 19th century found their way
into settings such as Vancouver’s Stanley Park or into various museums. <i>Totem</i> is the
story of the return of a mortuary pole, carved by the Haisla of British Columbia, and which was
housed in a Swedish ethnological museum for 77 years.
The opening sequences of this DVD show the towering pole, encased by a metal band and guy
wires which secure it to a display space in the museum. But, as the camera draws closer, we see
that museum staff are working to remove the totem pole and place it in a special, climate-
controlled shipping crate for its transfer back to the ancestral territory of the Haisla. This is an
historic occasion, for it marks the first time that a totem pole from North America has been
repatriated by the First Nation whose ancestors carved it.

The pole makes its way from the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, through the Panama
Canal to an official ceremony of transfer in Vancouver, where the pole is transferred to Chief
G’psgolox, representing the Haisla Nation. Much international negotiation has made this
long-awaited event a reality, and the emotions surrounding the event are powerful. Viewers see
Haisla elders overwhelmed with tears; in the words of one elderly Haisla, “the ancestors have
come home.” Then, the pole travels to Kitamaat village in northwestern British Columbia where
song, prayer, and community celebration greet the totem. The shackles – the iron band which
held the totem in place at the museum - have been removed and are held aloft in triumph.

<i>Totem</i> is a comparatively short production (only 23 minutes), but it foregrounds the
importance of the return of objects sacred to First Nations people, objects which were
“collected” during the 19th and 20th centuries and placed in museums. For those outside the
culture of West Coast First Nations, totem poles are beautiful ethnic artifacts; however, as we
watch the joy experienced with the return of the totem, we come to understand the powerful
emotional ties the totem poles have inspired in the First Nations people of British Columbia.

Recommended as an acquisition for Native Studies programs, and a useful supplementary item
for senior high school Canadian History programs.


Joanne Peters is a teacher-librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, MB.

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