________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 12 . . . . February 6, 2009

cover Canadian Festivals. (Canada Close Up).

Susan Hughes.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2007.
58 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-0-439-93923-2.

Subject Headings:
Festivals-Canada-Juvenile literature. Holidays-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Marilynne V. Black.

*** /4


People of the Islamic faith, called Muslims, look forward to Eid ul-Fitr (eed ull-fit-ur). It is an important time of rejoicing and celebration.

Eid ul-Fitr is important because it comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims follow a religious calendar that is based on the moon, called a lunar calendar. Ramadan is the ninth month of this calendar. It begins when the new crescent moon appears in the sky.

Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan. From the time the sun comes up until the time the sun goes down, they must not eat or drink. They think less about their everyday lives and more about their faith.

Separate chapters in Canadian Festivals, of up to 10 pages each, document the major holidays celebrated by Canada’s multicultural population: Eid-ul-Fitr, Diwali, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Chinese New Year.

     Canadian Festivals is ideal for younger readers: the text is succinct, yet the festivals are explained well, including such details as who celebrates, why it is important to them, and when the celebration takes place. It also includes how the festival is celebrated with such traditions as special foods and clothing, decorations and symbols, and the gathering of families and friends. Since it is important that children realize that, while cultures may differ significantly, there are core values that are similar, Hughes has taken care to show the similarities among the festivals. Diwali, Chanukah, and Eid ul-Fit, for instance, are festivals of light. Furthermore, she states:

Eid is also a time of forgiveness and a time for giving to others. At Eid, it is important for adults and children to make a generous donation to a charity, such as a gift of food or money. This is called Zakat-ul-Fitr. Muslims believe this is a way of serving God.

     The attractive and uncluttered layout has large print, sufficient white space, and four or five colourful pictures in each chapter. The text will not only serve as an excellent introduction to Canada’s multicultural holidays for children older than the age range indicates, but it will satisfy younger readers who want basic information. Each highlighted word in the text is defined in a glossary. All chapters feature several sidebars with important details of the celebration. For instance, the two page sidebar for the chapter on Kwanzaa explains the Seven Principles of the festival. A Table of Contents and pronunciation guide are useful tools for young readers.

     Susan Hughes is a versatile author who has written picture books, chapter books, novels, graphic books and nonfiction. Five of the latter titles are the “Wild Paws” series that explores wild life rescue for 7 to 10-year-olds. Other titles by Hughes include Let’s Call it Canada, Coming to Canada, and Canada Invents. In addition, Scholastic has produced 12 titles, as well as Canadian Festivals, in the “Canada Close Up” series.


Marilynne V. Black is a former B.C. elementary teacher-librarian who completed her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature (UBC) in the spring of 2005. She is now working as an independent children's literature consultant with a web site at: www.heartofthestory.ca

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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