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

thecanadianshieldalphabet cover The Canadian Shield Alphabet.

Myrna Guymer. Illustrated by RoseMarie Condon.
Regina, SK: Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, 2008.
32 pp., hardcover, $24.95.

ISBN 978-1-894431-2301.

Subject Headings:
Canadian Shield-Juvenile literature.
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*** /4


“N n   Nicolas and Nathaniel watch Northern Lights in November.

Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, occur when electrons and solar particles in the air bump into atmospheric gases and give off light. Bands of light shimmer and dance and slide across the night sky in shades of green, pink, mauve, blue and yellow.

The people, places and history of the Canadian Shield are the focus of this informative alphabet book. Each letter is shown in upper and lower cases and is accompanied by a descriptive sentence. Sidebars, with clearly written factual details, elaborate and clarify. In some cases, the sidebars are essential to understanding the meaning of sentences such as “Q q Qiviut sheds from umigmaq grazing near a qasgiq.” The longer text box explains qiviut is the fine inner insulating hair on the umigmaq - the Inuktitut word for muskox. In the spring, muskox shed their qiviut, which is gathered and woven into expensive yarn. The words that are highlighted in bold are defined again in a glossary, along with a pronunciation key.


     RoseMarie Condon’s oil paintings also help to convey meaning. The illustration that accompanies “K k Kira and Keiran help Kookum prepare kinnikinnik in the kitchen” shows a boy and a girl, alongside their grandmother, smelling a plant with berries.

     Other featured subjects include First Nations festivals, natural resources, animals, transportation, sporting activities, and explorers. A colour-coded map of Canada, printed on the end pages, delineates the seven different landform regions. The inside maps are also part of an activity where children match the A-Z place names of the Canadian Shield with the letters printed on the map. As well, the explorations of David Thompson are included on a smaller map.

     The Canadian Shield Alphabet is a good addition to the Canadian alphabet genre. The presentation seen here is very similar to Sleeping Bear Press’s series of alphabet books on Canadian provinces and territories (including A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet, C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet and F is for Fiddlehead: A New Brunswick Alphabet). They both offer full page, realistic illustrations and sidebars that provide further information. While Sleeping Bear Press’s books use a four-line rhyming poem to introduce each letter, The Canadian Shield Alphabet uses one descriptive sentence.


Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

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

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