CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 7 . . . .November 25, 2005
North Americans are constantly encountering lists. Advertisers report the top ten ringtones selected by mobile phone customers; entertainment news programs list top grossing films from the previous week; booksellers post lists of bestselling titles in a plethora of categories, and, if you are like me, you’re constantly updating your grocery list and mental “to do” list. Lists are ubiquitous, and while some are amusing or entertaining, others serve more practical purposes such as a telephone directory or stock quotations in the business papers. Libraries have long stocked reference works like almanacs, yearbooks and dictionaries that contain large amounts of annotated list-like content.
Special Canadian contributor Pat Hancock has “Canadianized” Buckley Jr. and Stremme’s Scholastic Book of Lists that first appeared in the United States in 2003. Thus we find that a lot of the content in the chapters on history, social studies, and, to a lesser extent, pop culture focuses on Canadian topics such as lists of Governor Generals, Rights and Freedoms (based on the 1982 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms), and Great Kid’s Books that identifies the English and French winners of the Governor General’s Literary Awards for Children’s literature, both text and illustration, from 1995 to 2004.
In addition to the topical chapters identified above, the book features the following: the world and the weather, numbers, science, words, the arts, critters, grab bag, and sports. All are detailed in the table of contents. Access is also enhanced by a user-friendly index. Under Canada, the index has 30 entries or cross-references from aboriginal peoples to World Heritage Sites in Canada. These access points will help to ensure that this book has value in a library as a reference tool.
The cover promises “More than 250 amazing lists of fun facts and weird trivia on almost everything you need to know!” While this may be overstated, the lists are certainly fun and informative. Most are one to two pages in length and begin with a brief introduction to the list and end with an informative fact box that includes additional historical facts, a key word or definition, additional trivia or the odd quiz.
Some of the lists cry out for more information. In the World & Weather chapter, the entry for Canada A-Z lists the first and last five place names from the Canadian Geographical Names Data Base yet fails to provide a URL for web-savvy readers to explore the rest of the names. In the chapter on Words, under A Writer’s Toolbox, popular writing tools such as allusion, irony, and metaphor are listed and defined, but no examples are provided. Despite the limitations of this type of work, it has something for almost everyone, including a few lists for the owner to fill in such as the grab bag list of My Food.
Val Ken Lem is a catalogue librarian and member of the Collection Services Team at Ryerson University, Toronto, ON.
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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.