________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 6. . . .November 7, 2008


Thomas Edison. (Kids Can Read).

Elizabeth MacLeod. Illustrated by Andrej Krystoforski.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55453-058-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55453-057-1 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931-Juvenile literature.
Inventors-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Electric engineers-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Robert Groberman.

*** /4


Samuel de Champlain. (Kids Can Read).

Elizabeth MacLeod. Illustrated by John Mantha.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55453-050-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55453-049-6 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Champlain, Samuel de, 1567-1635-Juvenile literature.
Explorers-France-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Explorers-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Discovery and exploration-French-Juvenile literature.
Canada-History-To 1663 (New France)-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Robert Groberman.

*** /4



The next fall, Samuel and some of his men again went exploring along the ocean. When Samuel returned to Port-Royal, he started a club called the Order of Good Cheer. Every day, one of the men created a feast. Each man tried to make the best meal. The men were busy, happy and full. (From Samuel de Champlain.)


These two late-primary biographies by Elizabeth MacLeod give young readers a simple and engaging introduction to each of the two historical figures, Thomas Edison and Samuel de Champlain. In both texts, MacLeod writes with controlled vocabulary and clarity about these men whose lives included complex ideas.

internal art     In Thomas Edison, MacLeod introduces the great American inventor by introducing his most famous invention, the light bulb. The historical facts of his life are told at a level children will appreciate, including that "Al asked lots of questions when he was a little boy. He wanted to find out how things worked." MacLeod relates how Edison set fire to a barn while experimenting with fire and asked neighbourhood children to eat worms to see if this was the secret to how birds were able to fly.

      Each page is illustrated in full colour with matching content by Andrej Krystoforski. The illustrations of inventions, like the copying pen and phonograph, are very detailed, and give readers a good idea of how such a machine worked.

      In MacLeod's biography of Samuel de Champlain, she again tells a complex story at a level that children will appreciate. She begins by asking readers to "imagine sailing across the huge ocean" and "not knowing what you will find on the other side." She introduces readers to a young Samuel de Champlain, who dreams of becoming a sailor and, in fact, becomes a soldier in the navy so that he can sail across the ocean. Eventually, he sailed to the area called Canada (I checked other references, and explored areas of North America were already given this name) and the part called New France. MacLeod provides many details about Champlain's travels between France and New France and his relationships with the First Nations Peoples he met.

internal art      Each page in this book is illustrated in full colour by John Mantha, and the detail he provides adds greatly to comprehension of the accompanying text. His illustration of the building of the fortified city of Quebec is especially useful.

      Both of these beginner biographies by Elizabeth MacLeod conclude with a page of additional facts about the subject of the biography, listed in bullet form and including illustrations. These books provide thorough and interesting introductions to the lives of important historical figures and to the genre of biography itself.


Robert Groberman is a grade three teacher at Kirkbride Elementary School in Surrey, BC.

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

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