CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 8 . . . . December 5, 2008
To have a biography written about anyone who is only 21 must mean that the person has been remarkably successful in a very high-profile field. Sydney Crosby certainly fulfills those criteria, having received more awards, and scored more goals than any other NHL player of his age. As well, he seems to be a nice person, fond of his family, and socially responsible--a good role model for the Grade 3 or 4 student for whom the book is intended.
And it is definitely "students" are the target audience for the books in this "Remarkable Canadians" series. No parents, no matter how devoted to their child's education welfare and improvement, could feel that a biography of Emily Carr, Tommy Douglas, or Nellie McClung would be an acceptable birthday present! As well, the books always end with a pair of pages on the art of writing a biography, giving a concept web with helpful boxes detailing what sort of information would be required to complete an acceptable school project. The preceding pages of the book, whoever the subject, follow the directions admirably, making sure that significant dates and essential facts as well as a few interesting titbits are included.
As an example of the genre, the book works very well. In this case particularly, the subject is sympathetic, the pictures are full of action, and the asides on hockey as a game should give the young reader a certain feeling of superiority as he (or possibly she) realizes just how ignorant some people are about hockey. It is hard to imagine anyone having to be told that "Hockey is played on ice, with each player on the team wearing skates." There is not a critical word in the entire text, but why should there be? This guy's a hero! The book is an excellent introduction to the notion of biography as a literary form, and a reasonable starting point for a research project on a person's life. If the reader is really interested in learning more about the actual subject in question, there are websites given for Sidney, and for hockey and the NHL.
Having got beyond the age of 21 without having a biography written about her, Mary Thomas is forced to conclude that working in a Winnipeg school library is a lower-profile job than playing professional hockey.
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