________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 18 . . . . January 15, 2010


Canada Counts: A Charles Pachter Counting Book.

Charles Pachter.
Toronto, ON: Cormorant Books, 2009.
64 pp., hardcover, $20.00.
ISBN 978-1-897151-52-5.

Subject Headings:
Counting-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Sylvia Pantaleo.

***½ /4

In Canada Counts, Charles Pachter presents an eclectic collection of Canadian images to illustrate the numbers from 1 to 20, as well as other numbers of significance to Canadian history such as 37, 1967 and 1982. The artwork on the dust jacket is a larger version of the painting Pachter uses for number 1: "One moose swimming and one man in one canoe." On the back of the dust jacket, two rows of six framed hand signs communicate the title of the book. The brilliant red endpapers (symbolizing the red maple leaf I presume) are rendered in the same hue as the title on the dust jacket.

     The first two openings of the picture book are devoted to number one. A black numeral 1 is depicted in an orange circle on the verso of the first opening above the image of the moose swimming in Lake Simcoe. The three other images for number one include a noble caribou, a walking man and a woman in a sari. With respect to layout, numerals 2 to 15 and numeral 37 each have their own opening. The images and information about numerals 16 to 20, 24, 26, 29, 48, 1967 and 1982 are each presented on a single page. The content on the pages includes artwork, phrases and sentences, some of which are written in rhyme, and a corresponding numeral superimposed on a circle. The colours of both the numeral and the circle vary throughout the book. Single page layouts are also used for "hundreds," "thousands," Pachter's versions of the Group of Seven's art, a recipe for strawberry-rhubarb pie and another recipe for Nanaimo bars.

     Canada's history, geography and national culture are represented in the illustrations. As well as iconic Canadiana (e.g., moose, caribou, maple leaf), Pachter's artwork features well-known Canadians, such as The Famous Five, the five women who were instrumental in making women persons under Canadian law, and the Group of Seven. Other celebrated people featured in the picture book include 12 famous explorers (e.g., John Cabot, Simon Fraser, John Franklin, James Cook) and the 37 Fathers of Confederation. The numeral 1967 marks Canada's 100 birthday and the numeral 1982 celebrates the coming home of the Canadian Constitution.

internal art

     A section titled "About the Images" enhances reader knowledge and appreciation of the significance of the content of the artwork. Further, another part titled "More About the Art" provides the title of the artwork and the media used to create the images, as well as the year the artwork was rendered. The illustrations in the book could be described as pastiche as although most of the images were created with acrylics on canvas, Pachter also used coloured pencil with acrylics for some of the paintings. As well, several images are photographs described in the back as "Inkjet on archival matte paper."

     Although the picture book can be read and enjoyed by readers of varying ages, the content of many of the illustrations makes the book more appropriate for older elementary students. Further, the artwork could be examined in visual art classes at both the upper elementary and high school levels.

     Charles Pachter is also the author of the highly acclaimed picture book, M is for Moose: A Charles Pachter Alphabet Book. Information on the back flap of the book states that Pachter is a painter, printmaker, sculptor, designer, historian and lecturer, and member of the Order of Canada. He has several degrees, and his work has been shown at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and at the McMichael Gallery. His work is represented in several public and private collections (as detailed in the section "About the Images") and can also be viewed on the walls of the College Street subway station in Toronto.

Highly Recommended.

Sylvia Pantaleo teaches courses in Language Arts in the Faculty of Education, the University of Victoria, BC.

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.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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