________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 5. . . .October 24, 2008


The Kids Book of Canadian Geography.

Briony Penn.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008.
64 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55074-890-1.

Subject Heading:
Canada-Geography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4



While continents build at the edges of plates, erosion grinds them down. Erosion is responsible for flattening the Canadian Shield. Even the Rockies and the Laurentians will one day erode away to nothing.

Imagine you could watch a time-lapse video made over millions of years from the top of Mount Waddington in the Coast Mountains. You'd see the action of the sun, wind, ice and water eroding British Columbia's tallest mountains. You'd see the rock shattering from extreme heat and cold. Then ferocious winds would blow it away. Tumbling water would grind these rocks into tiny grains. And some of the runoff from melting glaciers would reach the Fraser River. Someday, these grains might end up as sand between the toes of people strolling the beaches of Vancouver.


Highly engaging and appealing, this book is the latest in the Canadian "Kids Book of..." series. The author hooks the reader instantly with the book's unique introduction comprised of 12 questions or clues about different parts of Canada. Each of the answers is directly related to one of Canada's varied geographical features. There are six main chapters highlighting such topics as ancient landscapes (explaining how the country was formed millions of years ago), climate and how it affects everything in the landscape, and continent shaping, which covers erosion, weathering and the effects of the Ice Age. The chapter entitled "Life on the Land" discusses evolving ecosystems and the creation of the eight principal geographical areas of Canada as well as the influence of the first peoples and the Europeans on culture, industry, exploration, settlement and even the place names of towns and cities. "Regional Ecosystems," the final chapter, takes readers on a tour of the eight geographical regions- the tundra, boreal forest, Laurentian woodlands, coastal rain forest, western Cordillera, prairie, Acadian woodlands and the Carolinian woodlands (the latter being a relatively new term for most students). Each of these regions is explained using identical subheadings: the ancient landscape, climate, plants and animals, first peoples, new arrivals and the landscape today. A page entitled "Decoding Your Landscape" follows the information about each region and poses several questions. One example, taken from the section about the tundra, asks "What takes a minute to create and centuries to repair in the Arctic?" From the answer - vehicle tracks and garbage dumps - and the subsequent explanation, readers will learn about the fragility of the tundra ecosystem.

     Well-written, with more difficult concepts explained in a step-by-step fashion, the text, along with abundant maps, diagrams and drawings rendered in watercolour and ink, sustains the reader's interest throughout the book. A table of contents and an index are included.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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