CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 1 . . . . September 3, 2004
At the Canadian Children's Literature Symposium held at the University of Ottawa in 1999, a group of scholars and writers gathered together to consider the following questions: "What literacy legacy do our children have to light up their future? What in the past and in the present in Canadian children's fiction is literature? (p. 1). Words and Ways is a collection of 17 commentaries, essays and studies that were either presented at the conference or grew out of participant discussions at the conference. Some papers were published in their original form, and others were revised for the book.
Each contribution to the collection, in its own way, celebrates Canadian children's literature. The first essay, "The Apprehension of Audience: The Difference Between Writing for Adults and Children," was a speech delivered by Tim Wynne-Jones at the symposium. The highly respected author shares his beliefs about writing for children and writing for adults and identifies five elements that he believes most notably differentiate children's fiction from adult fiction: "1. the relative importance of Story in the Aristotelian sense; 2. the window onto the events; 3. the relative transparency of the language; 4. the narrator's voice; and 5. the degree to which the story is told" (p. 21).
In the second chapter in the book, Judith Saltman examines patterns and trends in Canadian children's literature at the millennium. She reminds readers of Canada's recent history in children's literature and notes the growth in this body of work over the past 30 years. Beverly Haun reports on the database she compiled on Aboriginal adolescent literature from 1970-1990. Information about how to access Haun's database or an Appendix with lists of titles would have been appreciated by this reader. In another survey-type article, Gregory Mailiet examines the multicultural nature of children's literature in Saskatchewan. Sandra Beckett's examination of retellings of Little Red Riding Hood includes a discussion of Patricia Galloway's collection Truly Grim Tales (1995).
Other contributions in Words and Ways include an essay on The Maestro (Wynne-Jones, 1995) and six essays on the work of L. M. Montgomery. Janet Lunn's commentary on working with illustrators when publishing her picture books emphasizes that the picture book is an art form. In the final four essays in the collection, Michael Solomon discusses issues in designing and publishing children's picture books, Andrea McKenzie examines the power of images of children in Canadian children's literature, and John Sorfleet and Elizabeth Watson independently explore the nature of Canadian children's literature.
The collection deals with numerous topics in Canadian children's literature. In the Introduction to the book, Hudson lists the following as recurring issues in the book: "social and moral strictures on writing for children, the highlighting of the artistic character and merit of picture books, and national, racial and ethnic issues" (p. 5). Ways with Words makes a valuable contribution to the scholarly work on Canadian children's literature. It celebrates the quality, originality and diversity of Canadian children's literature in English.
Sylvia Pantaleo is an Associate Professor of Language Arts int the Faculty of Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.
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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.