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

cover Courage and Compassion: Ten Canadians Who Made a Difference. (A WOW Canada! Book).

Rona Arato.
Toronto, ON: Maple Leaf Press, 2008.
96 pp., pbk. & hc., $19.95 (pbk.), $29.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897349-35-9 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-897349-34-2 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature. Heroes-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.

Review by Betsy Fraser.

*** /4


Nellie became involved in the "Persons Case," one of the most famous cases in Canadian history. Another activist, lawyer Emily Murphy, was a suffragist who fought to have women declared "persons" in Canada. In 1916, the governor of Alberta had appointed Emily as a judge in women's court. On her first day, a lawyer, Eardley Jackson, challenged her right to be a judge because, he said, she was not considered a "person" under the British North America Act (BNA) of 1867. His objection was overruled by the Alberta Supreme Court. Though she was elated by the Alberta decision, Emily wanted all Canadian women to be considered "persons." In 1927, she decided to take her case to the Canadian Supreme Court. Emily invited Nellie and other activists, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parr, to help her with her fight.

While many students will know that Canada is known around the world for its peacekeepers, the extent of our history with human rights is a subject well worthy of its own volume. Rona Arato begins by defining heroism as a quality needed in order to stand up for one's beliefs. This is a quality shown in abundance by the people profiled in the latest “Wow Canada!” book. While students may be familiar with some of their names, they are unlikely to be familiar with the reasons for the inclusion of even the best known figures, whether it is Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, Canada's only winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, or Nellie McClung, the best known member of the Famous Five.

     Luckily Arato has included compelling descriptions of the lives and works of these amazing people, from Jeanne Mance's nursing career in seventeenth century Montreal to Josiah Henson, the real-life inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom to the ongoing work being done by Craig Kielburger's Free the Children and Hannah Taylor's Ladybug Foundation, which works to relieve homelessness. These real-life stories provide both compelling examples of what has been done and what students can do. The information is supplemented by a timeline, and, as with all of the books in the series, the book has been copiously illustrated. This is the only biographical information on many of these people: the photo credits are a welcome start to finding further information. Courage and Compassion will be a good addition to both school and public libraries.


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

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

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