________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 16 . . . . April 4, 2008

cover

Pioneer Kids. (Canadian Flyer Adventures; 6).

Frieda Wishinsky. Illustrated by Dean Griffiths.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2007.
83 pp., pbk. & hc., $6.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-897349052 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-897349045 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Frontier and pioneer life-Saskatchewan-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

***½ /4

excerpt:

Miss Bridges sat in front at an old wooden desk. On one side of the blackboard, she'd neatly printed the alphabet in large letters.

Miss Bridges folded her hands on the desk. "Please quiet down, children," she said. Her soft words were drowned out by the noise.

She sighed.

Then Miss Bridges stood up and faced the class. "I would like everyone to be quiet," she said more loudly. A few children stopped talking and looked up.

Did you hear the teacher? Be quiet!" bellowed an older boy in scruffy overalls.

The noise stopped. Miss Bridges cleared her throat."Thank-you, Isaac.

I see we have two new students today." She looked at Matt and Emily. "I'm Emily Bing." "I'm Matt Martinez." "Welcome to our school," said Miss Bridges. "Where do you children live?"

"Far away," said Emily. "We're just visiting for a little while."

 

There is an old dresser and sled in a tower that have connections to other times and distant places. Emily and her friend Matt have used them to see dinosaurs, pirates, and Vikings. In Pioneer Kids, Matt pulls from the dresser drawers an egg labeled 1910. Knowing the egg will lead to an exciting adventure, Emily and Matt jump onto the sled, travel through the clouds, and land in the tall grasses of the Prairies. Dressed like pioneers, Emily and Matt are immediately given a lift to school on the back of a horse drawn wagon. They spend the day in a one room schoolhouse doing schoolwork on a slate, helping a student with his printing and reading, speaking Ukrainian, and putting out a fire. As on every trip into the past, they have to keep their eyes on their sled, but during this trip, they also have to keep their eyes on the two bullies in the classroom who seem to be getting meaner by the minute!

     The 11 chapters in this sixth book in the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series tell a story about how a misunderstood boy living in the Prairies in 1910 becomes a hero. Emily and Matt, who were there to witness it first hand, also learn more about the time period and the egg they pulled out of the drawer. But when the sled glows with a signal of rhyming phrases, Emily and Matt know it's time to go back to their home in Glenwood. Back in the tower room, they return with their own documented highlights from the trip, and plans for how they will spend the rest of the day. Sounds like it will involve eggs and peanut butter!

internal art

     Written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Dean Griffiths, each book in the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series includes historical facts from Canada's past. Black and white illustrations appear on every three to eight pages. Emily and Matt's top ten facts they gather after their trips appear at the end of each story as does a question and answer format page entitled "So You Want to Know…." In thsi section which is four pages long, Wishinsky answers questions pertaining to the story. In Pioneer Kids, two of the questions she answers are: "Why did people leave Ukraine for Canada?" and "Why were prairie fires so dangerous?".

     Wishinsky's book Each One Special was nominated for a 1999 Governor General's Literary Award. In addition to authoring books in the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series, she has written other titles including What's the Matter with Albert?, Please, Louise! and Manya's Dream: A Story of Marie Curie. Dean Griffiths, who lives in Duncan, BC, has also illustrated Only a Cow, The Lighthouse Dog and The Patchwork House. His illustrations for the stories in the "Canadian Flyer Adventures" series enhance the stories' suspense and bring readers closer to the action. In this book, my favorite illustration is the two page spread of the students running toward the burning shed with buckets of water in hand.

     With the same one page introduction in every book, children can read the books in this series in any order without confusion. Readers will become fans very quickly and will be anticipating the next trip to the dresser just as much as do Emily and Matt. This entire series should be in every Canadian library.

Highly Recommended.

Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

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

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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