CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 10. . . .January 9, 2009
Columbus's Chart (Stories of Great People).
Gerry Bailey & Karen Foster. Illustrated by Leighton Noyes & Karen Radford.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
40 pp., pbk. & hc., $11.95 (pbk.), $21.56 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3708-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-7787-3686-8 (RLB.).
Columbus, Christopher, ca. 1451-1506-Juvenile fiction.
America-Discovery and exploration-Spanish-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.
Review by Janice Foster.
*** ½ /4
"Unfortunately it was the Tianos who died of diseases brought over by the settlers on Columbus's voyages," said Mr. Rummage. "Apparently there were over a million people living in the islands before Columbus came. But twenty years later, over half had died."
"Still, today we usually celebrate Columbus for the positive things he did – his discoveries."
The above excerpt illustrates how authors Gerry Bailey and Karen Foster portray a balanced account of the famous explorer, Christopher Columbus, in Columbus's Chart. In this addition to the "Stories of Great People" series, Digby and Hannah discover an old parchment chart in the Knicknack Market. Mr. Rummage, a market vendor, explains that this chart once belonged to Christopher Columbus, the famous explorer. As in the other books in this series, Mr. Rummage then provides the children with a biographical account of this historical character. His conversational narration is complemented by factual information presented on separate pages and sidebars. This dialogue provides the reader with an engaging account of the man credited with the discovery of the Americas.
Accompanied by the factual information, the reader gains some insight into the historical period and into both the positive and negative impacts of Columbus's discoveries. Columbus's Chart is formatted so that the Mr. Rummage's narration is clearly differentiated from the factual information. Authors Gerry Bailey and Karen Foster's narrative text merges a fictionalized narrative setting with factual dialogue. The narration is presented against a white background with cartoon style drawings by Leighton Noyes and Karen Radford depicting the characters of the narration. The factual information is displayed on a coloured patterned background accompanied by photographs and sketches of real objects. A glossary and index are included. The "Stories of Great People" series provides the young reader with a new and engaging style to the biography genre. The mixture of narration and factual information is motivating and enables the audience to emotionally connect to this person who affected history. Although the probability of finding such treasured artifacts in a marketplace is unlikely, this technique is a useful springboard to introduce a famous person in history. Columbus's Chart provides historical background in a balanced presentation so that the reader gains some perspective on the positive and negative impact of Christopher Columbus's famous discoveries as well as insight on that historical period of exploration. This book might easily lead the reader to explore further information on this famous individual or to read other books in this genre.
Janice Foster, a freshly retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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