________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 8 . . . . December 5, 2008

cover M is for Mountie: An RCMP Alphabet.

Polly Horvath.
Illustrated by Lorna Bennett.
Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2008.
40 pp., hardcover, $19.95.

ISBN 978-1-58536-267-7.

Subject Headings:
Royal Canadian Mounted Police-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


C is for Cadet Training
Cadets are taught to see
From other points of view when called upon in emergencies
To discover what is true.

Young adults (male and female) who train to become RCMP officers are called cadets. To apply to be a cadet you must be of good character, speak fluently in either French or English, be a Canadian citizen, have a high school diploma or equivalent, possess a valid driver’s license, be 19 years of age at the time of engagement, meet medical standards, be willing to relocate anywhere in Canada, and be physically fit.

     Cadets train at a special centre in Regina, Saskatchewan, called the Depot. In addition to meeting skills and educational requirements, cadets must also undergo extensive physical training. Their training can be quite rigorous with various exercises, including double-time marching, long runs, stair climbing, or weight lifting. RCMP officers must maintain their fitness levels. An officer may have to chase a criminal, climb a fence or defend a victim of crime. He must be alert and ready for sudden action, which requires a fit body. Basic training runs for 24 weeks; upon graduation, cadets can be sent anywhere in Canada.

     The RCMP believes in preventing trouble before it starts. The cadets are also taught to look at other people’s points of view, an important tool in conflict resolution. As the title clearly indicates, this alphabet book's focus is strictly on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Pairs of facing pages are either devoted to a single letter of the alphabet, or each page in a pair is given over to a single letter. The letters are presented in both upper and lower case

internal art

    Readers already familiar with a previous Sleeping Bear Press publications, such as A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet, M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet, or Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet, will recognize the book's layout which incorporates a two part text. As shown in the excerpt above, each letter is represented via a four line poem, and then the content of that poem is expanded upon via one or more paragraphs of sidebar expository text.

    The 26 RCMP-related “things” selected to represent the letters of the alphabet range from the obvious, such as the Musical Ride for M and Uniform for U, to the much less obvious. The latter includes Queen for Q, which is often one of the tough letters to connect to an alphabet book’s theme. In this case, readers learn that, in 1969, the RCMP presented Queen Elizabeth with Burmese, a horse from the Musical Ride, and that the Queen then rode the horse for the next 18 years. Peace Zone is a bit of a stretch for Z, but the text reminds readers that RCMP officers have served with United Nations peacekeeping forces. Contents also range from the past (P’s Jerry Potts, a Métis who served as an interpreter and guide to what was then the North West Mounted Police) to contemporary focused entries, things like E’s Emergency Response Team. Though M is for Mountie is not meant to be a comprehensive examination of the RCMP, it does impart a great deal of information about this police force. The book’s final page includes five “Fun Facts” plus information about the RCMP Foundation and a URL for the RCMP’s website. One of the enticing “Fun Facts” is that “similar to baseball cards, you can get Mountie trading cards.” Unfortunately, Horvath provides no additional information about how to obtain them. A search of the RCMP website suggests that these cards pertain only to the Mounties who are part of the Musical Ride and that the cards are only available at performances of the Ride.

    Visually, M is for Mountie is highly engaging as Bennett, who also illustrated C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet, uses a realistic illustration style to capture the many current and past roles of the RCMP, while also reflecting its multiracial membership.

    A small quibble: While Horvath gives over one letter entirely to females, “W is for Women,” she is not always gender inclusive, when appropriate, in the texts of other letters. Even in the excerpt above, which notes that “Young adults (male and female) who train to become RCMP officers are called cadets,” Horvath utilizes only the male pronoun when referring to a single officer


Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM’s editor.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

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