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SOAPSTONE CARVING FOR CHILDREN

Gosse, Bonnie
Photographs by David Gosse Waterloo (Ont.), Penumbra Press, 1991. 48pp, paper, $12.95, ISBN 0-921254-318. Distributed by University of Toronto Press.


Grades 5 and up/Ages 10 and up

Reviewed by J.E. Simpson

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October


There is something almost elemental in the appeal of carving. One of the great sorrows of our schools is how many young people travel through them without ever having responded to that appeal. Consequently, the appearance of a book that addresses the subject of carving in simple, direct terms is cause for minor celebration.

Soapstone Carving for Children is modest in format and language in ways that are as inviting as the material it considers. Directly and concisely, it details tools and materials, prudently cautions readers concerning safety matters, then, with the aid of photographs and line drawings, traces the creation of three animal sculptures by three young children. A brief history of soapstone carving in Canada primarily devoted to the Inuit and a list of suppliers and a bibliography conclude the book.

Although the title and the delivery are clearly directed at a young audience, Soapstone Carving for Children has much to offer anyone, as the Gosses grant in a preface directed to "moms and dads" as well as "other children."

Such reservations as I have about the book are, curiously, factors of its accessibility. In making carving appealing, the authors miss the chance to connect it with sculpture (indeed, they repeatedly refer to the practice as "craft"). Similarly, by restricting subject matter to animals, they lose the opportunity to illustrate the tangible relationship between the "real" and the "abstract" that sculpture has traditionally so evocatively demonstrated.


J.E. Simpson is a former supervisor of art for the Edmonton public school system in Edmonton, Alberta

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