________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 16 . . . . April 3, 2009

Jazlyn J’s Birthday Celebration Cover Jean de Brébeuf. (Discovering Canada).

Rebecca Szulhan.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2009.
32 pp, pbk. & hc, $11.95 (pbk.), $26.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-505-8 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-55388-504-X (hc.).

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4

Jazlyn J’s Ideal Instrument Cover Montcalm and Wolfe. (Discovering Canada).

Rebecca Szulhan.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2009.
32 pp, pbk. & hc, $11.95 (pbk.), $26.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-503-0 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-55388-502-3 (hc.).

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4

excerpt:

Father Jean de Brébeuf was one of the earliest missionaries to come to Canada. Brébeuf spent 15 years working among the Huron. He was made a saint in the early 1900s, and is the Patron Saint of Canada. During his lifetime, Brébeuf was respected for his strong faith, scholarship, and kindness. He had a genuine interest in the Huron and took time to learn their language and customs. Brébeuf strove to build a positive relationship with the Huron. After his death, he was honoured by both the Jesuits and the Huron. (From Jean de Brébeuf.)

Before long, France and Great Britain were also fighting. In 1756, they declared war. A key issue in the Seven Years' War was control over New France. Great Britain was determined to conquer New France and Gain control; of North America. Each country sent officers to control the troops in New France. Great Britain sent General James Wolfe to capture New France, France sent General Louis-Joseph Montcalm to resist the British and protect France's interests. Both men were highly regarded officers with distinguished careers. On September 13, 1759, they led their troops into the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. The two nations fought for control of Quebec, a major city in New France. (From Montcalm and Wolfe.)

The “Discovering Canada” series aims to look at the lives of significant historical individuals, without whom the path Canada took toward nationhood might have been markedly different. Although often maligned by social historians, the Euro-centric, heroic "great man theory of history" advanced by this type of book does have some value. It may be a well-too-trodden trail; however, the text displays some freshness and casts insights on the characters of Brébeuf, Wolfe and Montcalm that are, generally, only found in longer works.

     Montcalm and Wolfe takes readers through the lives of the two generals who commanded the British and French armies in North America during the Seven Years War and who died, in 1759, during the war's decisive Battle of the Plains of Abraham. Following in the tradition of the European officer-class, both generals were well-educated and began their careers at a very early age. By the time they went to North America, both young men were respected, seasoned soldiers, who had proven their bravery and military prowess in many European battles. A human face is put on these men as readers learn about their family lives, interests and conflicts with their superior officers.

     Students can readily understand a soldier's life, the political goals, individual conflicts, as well as the successes and the tragedies Wolfe and Montcalm experienced in the 18th century. However, when it comes to the life of Jean de Brébeuf, a 17th century Jesuit missionary, martyr and saint, it is more likely to be outside the common realm of understanding. However, the author has done an excellent job in explaining and humanizing Brébeuf.

     In 1625, the Jesuit Order sent Brébeuf to New France to teach Christianity to the Aboriginal peoples. He had a remarkable fluency in Aboriginal languages and was eager to learn about their way of life. Like Samuel de Champlain, the founder of New France, Brébeuf respected the Aboriginal people and believed that they could become Christian while maintaining their way of life. Brébeuf, readers come to understand, followed the tradition of French humanism rather than the racial intolerance and assimilation that became the hallmarks of the 19th century's White-Aboriginal relationship.

     After the British conquest of 1629, Brébeuf left New France but returned in the 1630s and founded the mission Sainte-Marie among the Hurons along Georgian Bay. In 1649, the mission was attacked by the Iroquois, the Hurons’ sworn enemies, and Brébeuf was captured, tortured and killed. In 1930, Brébeuf, along with other missionary martyrs, was declared a saint by Pope Pius XI. Brébeuf is now called the Patron Saint of Canada.

     The books in the series all contain a quiz, a glossary of terms, a time line of significant events in the history of New France and an index.

Recommended.

Ian Stewart is a literacy support teacher at David Livingstone School in Winnipeg, MB.

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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