________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006


A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet.

Lovenia Gorman. Illustrated by Melanie Rose.
Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2005.
40 pp., cloth, $23.95.
ISBN 1-58536-263-8.

Subject Headings:
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.
Ontario-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-8 / Ages 8-13.

Review by Linda Ludke.

***½ /4


A a
Located in central Ontario, Algonquin Provincial Park is a huge area of forests, rugged ground, and fresh water. Canada's oldest provincial park was established in 1893 in order to preserve the land in its natural form and to manage the commercial uses of the park. The best way to explore
Algonquin is by canoe or foot. Its 1500 kilometres of canoe routes and peaceful backpacking trails make Algonquin Park a great getaway for many, all year long. Summer is the most popular time to visit the park. Many families come to camp, fish and paddle the many lakes, hoping to see a moose, deer or wolf along the way. In winter, visitors explore the park by snowshoe or dogsled.


A is for Algonquin is the latest installment in Sleeping Bear Press's series of alphabet books on Canadian provinces and territories. As in C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet, each letter is accompanied by four lines of rhyming verse. For example:

Loon begins with the letter L-
it is our provincial bird.
Listen closely and from across the lake
its eerie call is heard.

     Sidebars provide further information and background on the highlighted topic.

internal art

     The subject range is well balanced and focuses on many aspects of Ontario. All geographic areas are represented, from James Bay in Ontario's north, to the southern tip of Point Pelee. There is a mix of urban and rural locations. Noteworthy landforms, like the Canadian Shield and Niagara Falls, are included, as well as flora and fauna, such as the trillium flower and Eastern white pine. The achievements both of men and women are lauded, including Henry Hudson, Tom Thomson, Laura Secord and Augusta Stowe, the first woman in Canada to earn her medical degree. Ontario's political history is explored with pages on Upper Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald and Parliament Hill. Diversity and culture are celebrated with references to the Wikwemikong Pow Wow and Kincardine Highland Games. The last few letters of the alphabet are always tricky, and having "Y" stand for the phrase embossed on license plates ("Yours to Discover") is a bit of a stretch.

     The book closes with a quiz called "More Facts to Discover." Sixteen question are presented with the answers upside down on the same page. Readers can find the answers to "What is the largest freshwater island in the world?" and "What is Ontario's provincial mineral?" by searching the sidebar text. The facing page includes five "Other Ontario Fun Facts."

     Melanie Rose's oil paintings realistically capture the beauty of the landscape. The frozen Rideau Canal is illuminated with blue/pink background colors in a nighttime scene. The illustrations are also adept at conveying a sense of time and place. The Upper Canada page resembles a sepia family photograph from the 1800's.

     This sophisticated alphabet book will appeal to a wide audience. It offers many classroom applications, and the publisher's website (www.sleepingbearpress.com) offers additional teaching ideas and reproducible handouts. Adults looking for provincial trivia will also be drawn to this well-designed book.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

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

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