CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 16 . . . .April 14, 2006
Thus begins this tale of pioneering courage and compassion in the New World.
In 1641, Jeanne Mance courageously gave up her comfortable middle-class life in France to journey to the colonies. Her determination, in the face of incredible hardships, massacres, illness, and deprivation, forged an iron spirit that could not be broken. Seven times she made the grueling trip across the Atlantic to garner support for the colonists and their desire to settle the untamed frontier. Her resourcefulness is credited with saving the new settlement from near destruction and earning her the title as “The Mother of Montreal”.
This title, Caring For A Colony, is one of a new series, “Stories of Canada,” which aims to expose young readers to the little known lives of interesting Canadians. In this selection, readers find not only the story of Jeanne Mance but also information regarding the relationship of the Catholic Church with First Nations people, the structure and practices of the Church and its orders and its role in the government of early French Canada.
And therein lies the problem with this publication. Although well researched, given the intended audience of nine to 12-year-olds, there is perhaps too much information for students to process. Each page contains the main text with an appropriate heading as well as one or two “boxes” of additional information. The text, on occasion, reads like a fictional account of Jeanne’s life and at others like a book of facts. The result is a lack of flow in the text, one which may be disconcerting to the reader.
The accompanying art works are black and white drawings and archival photographs. Although these photos are rich in historical significance, they may be disregarded by students accustomed to more exciting illustrations.
There is a short index in the back of the book, a glossary of significant terms and a list of resources for further study. Of particular note is a synopsis of the life and times of Jeanne Mance.
Given that the book is published as a children’s biography and given Jeanne’s importance in Canadian history, perhaps the issues of the Catholic Church and First Nations could be examined in another publication.
Recommended with reservations.
Rosemary Hollett is a teacher-librarian at St. Emile School in Winnipeg, MB.
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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.