________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 5 . . . . October 29, 2004


That's Very Canadian: An Exceptionally Interesting Report About All Things Canadian, by Rachel. (A Wow Canada! Book).

Vivien Bowers. Illustrated by Dianne Eastman.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2004.
96 pp., pbk. & cl., $19.95 (pbk.), $29.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-897066-05-8 (pbk.), ISBN 1-897066-04-X (cl.)

Subject Headings:
Canada-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Miscellanea-Juvenile literature.
National characteristics, Canadian-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4


If you thought my homemade mace was silly, you'll think Alberta's first official mace from 1906 was hilarious. It was made in a rush when Alberta became a province and elected a government, but someone realized they didn't have a mace. Remember, a government can't start a session of Parliament and debate laws and stuff unless they first bring in the official mace. So they made one quickly. It used plumbing pipe, a toilet tank float, old shaving mug handles, and bits of an old bedstead. By the time it was all painted gold, who would know? Alberta used that mace for 50 years!

Written from the perspective of a young girl who has been given an assignment about Canada by her teacher, this book is fun, captivating and informative. Rachel, with the help of Moose, Goose and Bucko Beaver, shares her findings about Canadian symbols and what it means to be a Canadian. In the first of three chapters, each with several sub-topics, Rachel explains symbols such as the Canadian coat-of-arms, animals, the mace and the great seal of Canada. She takes readers on a picture tour of the nation's capital and the Parliament Buildings and provides information about Canada's anthem, money and the Governor-General. The second chapter features each province and territory. Topics include the meaning of the province's name, its flag, coat-of-arms, provincial animals and flowers and a closer examination of each province's licence plate. Snapshots of important places and events complete the "tours." The third chapter covers the things which make Canadians unique and also seeks to eliminate stereotypes (e.g. all Canadians live in igloos). Rachel discusses hockey, bilingualism, food, canoes, the RCMP and the differences between Canada and the United States with regard to spelling and pronunciation, holidays, money and measurement.

     Bowers' sense of humour (humor with a "u") is evident throughout the book, not only in the main body of the text, but also in the amusing little comments made by the moose, goose and beaver in the corners of the pages. For example, Rachel suggests that, if she were to design a new coat-of-arms that reflects what Canada is all about, it would consist of Inuit and Native symbols, arctic animals, two crossed hockey sticks and the motto, "We shoot, we score!" The book's attractive layout demonstrates an attention to detail in keeping with the premise that this is supposed to be a child's social studies report. Each page resembles that of a scrapbook with bits of text interspersed with photos, pressed leaves, sticky notes, line drawings, memorabilia and coloured illustrations "glued" or "paper-clipped" to it. This most effective format allows readers to assimilate information in small chunks. A table of contents, an index and even a picture search puzzle are also included.

     No wonder this book is part of the "Wow Canada!" series. Bravo, Vivien Bowers!

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.

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

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