________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 21. . . .February 5, 2010.

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Arts and Crafts. (Cultures of Canada).

Heather C. Hudak, editor.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, 2010.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-534-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55388-529-0 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Handicraft-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Decorative arts-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*½/4

   
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Clothing. (Cultures of Canada).

Heather C. Hudak, editor.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, 2010.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-535-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55388-530-6 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Clothing and dress-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*½/4

   
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Dance. (Cultures of Canada).

Heather C. Hudak, editor.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, 2010.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-537-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55388-532-0 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Dance-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*½/4

   
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Food. (Cultures of Canada).

Heather C. Hudak, editor.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, 2010.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-533-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55388-528-3 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Food habits-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Food-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*½/4

   
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Places of Worship. (Cultures of Canada).

Heather C. Hudak, editor.
Calgary, AB: Weigl, 2010.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55388-536-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55388-531-3 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Canada-Religion-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*½/4

   

 



excerpt:

The Scottish knit colourful sweaters, socks, and stockings.

Fair Isle is a type of knitting that uses man colours to make patterns. It is named after a small island north of Scotland.
(From Arts and Crafts.)



Somewhat disappointing and falling short of their potential, the five titles of the “Cultures of Canada” series focus on 10 cultures in a variety of categories and are designed to foster in children an appreciation of the uniqueness of the people who make up Canada. How the 10 cultures were selected remains a mystery (representation by population perhaps?). On the plus side, the chapters have a consistent order, and readers can get a glimpse into the many facets of a particular culture by reading all of the books; on the negative side, some cultures have been left out entirely. Those cultures covered include Ukrainian, Chinese, Sikh, Aboriginal (these vary from title to title), Jewish, Hutterite, German, French, British (these vary as well) and Filipino. This sequence is followed throughout the series.

     Without any introduction at all, the books begin with the first group, the Ukrainians. A double-page spread is devoted to each sub-topic. The left hand page features a few short paragraphs while the right hand page poses a question and includes four small photos. Though these photos relate to the main topic, unfortunately they don’t always relate to the question. In addition, “Learn More” boxes provide a web site address for further study, although it is always difficult to predict the future availability of these web sites. There are several other flaws in this series: firstly, though the photos are labeled with the name of the object, it is sometimes difficult to tell exactly what the object actually is or what it is used for, and so the reader has to check the glossary to see if the word is listed; secondly, the text and the glossary do not give the pronunciation of any of the ethnic words; and thirdly, the level of difficulty of the vocabulary is quite inconsistent for the target audience. Both the covers and the illustrations are vibrant, colourful and eye-catching. A table of contents, a glossary and a brief index are provided.


     Arts and Crafts features Ukrainian egg painting, Chinese paper cuts, Sikh henna drawings, German embroidery and Jewish dreidels, to name a few. The symbolism behind the various arts and crafts is explained. One positive aspect of this title is that the authors chose to highlight different types of media rather than just one (fabric arts, for example). The only disappointment is the “chapter” devoted to Hutterite carpentry which simply states, “Some Hutterite men and boys make objects out of wood. Boys take turns working in the carpenter’s shop.” Perhaps some facts about the types of wood used or the tools employed in the workshop would have been more informative.


     The attire included in Clothing ranges from Chinese silk robes, Jewish prayer shawls and German wools to Filipino shirts made from pineapple cloth. This title has a few weaknesses: the question on the right hand page usually relates to only one of the four photographs; in the chapter about French silks, there is mention of gutta serti (the art of painting on silk) and petit-point and chenille embroidery stitches, yet there are no photos of any of these techniques; and in the chapter about Irish dance wear, the author states that women wear “peasant dresses,” yet the two photos of Irish dance costumes depict lavishly embroidered dresses that likely cost a great deal of money.


     In Dance, readers will learn about the symbolism in various ethnic dances and the special occasions or seasons during which they are performed. Musical instruments figure prominently in many of these dances. Readers will be introduced to Spanish flamenco dancing, the French cancan, and perhaps two of the most interesting dances of all, both celebrated by the Filipino culture- the binasuan, in which dancers put glasses of rice wine on their heads and in their hands and try to balance the glasses while they dance, and the tinikling, in which two dancers hop between two bamboo poles which are clapped together in a rhythmic pattern.


     Food features Aboriginal pemmican, German sausage and French-Canadian poutine, just to name a few of the dishes. Chinese dim sum, a special way to serve a meal, is also highlighted. Once again, there are a few minor flaws in this title: the kind of cabbage rolls shown in the Ukrainian section are actually more German-style; the section on Hutterites speaks only of the fact that they grow their own food and raise animals, but the foods shown are not what one would call typically Hutterite; the chapter about British foods refers to Yorkshire pudding as “English muffins” which might confuse the reader; and many of the questions posed on the right hand page are not answered in the book. Some examples include “How is matzah made?” and “What are they made of?” (referring to spring rolls).


     Places of Worship focuses on the many buildings in which people worship God. Sadly, the only photo of a Canadian place of worship is that of a Mi’kmaq sweat lodge; all other photographs- including those of churches, a mosque, a synagogue, and Buddhist and Hindu temples- have been taken in other countries. The right hand page features religious objects, such as prayer beads, a menorah, and incense, but most of these require explanation and are not featured in the glossary, leaving the reader to wonder about the object’s purpose and significance.


     Generally, the premise of these books is sound, but the execution is poor. Too much is left to the reader, and even a teacher who is unfamiliar with a particular topic would have to do some research to find the necessary information.

Not Recommended.

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

To comment on this title or this Review by Gail Hamilton., 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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