________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 15 . . . . March 16, 2007


Roberta Bondar: The Exceptional Achievements of Canada’s First Woman Astronaut. (Amazing Stories Junior Edition).

Joan Dixon.
Canmore, AB: Altitude Publishing (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2006.
96 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55439-701-3.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*** /4


Pierre Elliott Trudeau: The Prime Minister Canadians Either Loved or Hated. (Amazing Stories Junior Edition).

Stan Sauerwein.
Canmore, AB: Altitude Publishing (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2006.
96 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55439-702-0.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*** /4


By 1990, Roberta had spent six years in the Astronaut Program. Most of her training had been on the ground. Now she was in the lineup for a shuttle mission. She wanted to be the best she could be. She kept working hard.  She kept learning. Roberta wanted to be completely prepared. (From Roberta Bondar).

Altitude Publishing originally released these two Canadian biographies in 2004 as part of their "Amazing Stories" series. Both titles have been edited and revised for the new "Amazing Stories Junior Edition" series aimed at a middle-grade reading level. 

     Roberta Bondar describes the childhood ambitions that led to a scholarly pursuit of the sciences for this influential Canadian. Bondar’s life onboard the NASA spaceship is detailed, along with information on space exploration in general. 

     In Pierre Elliott Trudeau, ten chapters examine the prime minister’s life and legacy. The overview of Trudeau’s political career includes information on the Official Languages Act, October Crisis and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.      

     When comparing the two series side-by-side, the general content and even the chapter headings remain the same. The main difference is in the writing style. Sentences are shorter in the Junior Edition and descriptive passages have been rewritten using more direct statements. For example, in the “Amazing Stories” edition, Sam Sauerwein writes:

The efficiency of Parliament became an obsession for Trudeau. He immediately applied logical organization to the methods by which the Cabinet did business. Prior to his appearance, Cabinet meetings were known to be long, tedious sessions of argument and response as ill-prepared ministers tried to bring colleagues up to speed on the urgent needs in their portfolios. They met several times each week, sometimes even on Sundays, and their sessions could drag interminably into the early hours of the morning.

     In the Junior Edition, this passage reads: 

Trudeau wanted Parliament to do its work well. He changed the way it was organized. He changed how Cabinet did business. Before, Cabinet meetings had been long and full of arguments. They met several times each week. Sessions could drag on long past midnight. Sometimes, they even met on Sundays. It was not a good use of time. 

     The vocabulary in the Junior Editions is simpler: “puzzle” is used instead of “enigma” and “feelings” is used instead of “sensations.” Selected words are highlighted in the text and then defined in a glossary at the end. In Roberta Bondar, 22 words are defined, including "mission," "pharmacist" and "micro gravity." In Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the glossary provides short, concise explanations of conscription, foreign policy and War Measures Act.   

     The text is presented in a larger typeface with more white space on the page. Unfortunately, fewer photographs are included - only two in each book. Extra features that appeared in the earlier titles, such as time lines and bibliographies, have been omitted in the Junior Editions.  

     Altitude Publishing launched this new series of select “Amazing Stories” in response to feedback from educators. All the students in a class can read the same book, but at a level that best matches their ability. The very reasonable price makes it possible for libraries to own both copies.         


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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