CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 22. . . .February 11, 2011.
Canada from Above: A Photo Journey.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2010.
32 pp., pbk., $7.99.
Canada-Aerial photographs-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Pictorial works-Juvenile literature.
Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.
Review by Gail Hamilton.
Spectacular aerial photography steals the show in this book that provides readers with a new vantage point and a different perspective of some of Canada's landmarks, both natural and manmade. Several of the places featured, such as Niagara Falls, are well known, while others, such as the Diavik Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories, are less so. Examining a place from above helps readers to better understand something that is not as easily understood when viewed at eye level, and provides the viewer with a sense of scale, proportion and the "big picture." Each page has a photograph accompanied by a short paragraph describing the landmark along with a few pertinent facts. A few are double-page spreads.
In the badlands near Drumheller in southeastern Alberta, the walls of Horsethief Canyon rise to the fields of wheat and canola that stretch to the horizon. The canyon's ancient layers of sedimentary rock were exposed by glacial erosion 12,000 years ago. Wind, water, freezing and thawing, plus the semi-arid climate, continue to reveal the bones of dinosaurs.
The photographs are taken all across Canada and include such geographical features as islands, tidal flats, waterfalls, rivers and glaciers. Other subjects are forts, farms, quarries, Viking sod houses, cityscapes, ice roads and even the waterslide complex at Ontario Place. What is interesting is that the author has paired photographs of similar things on opposite pages. For example, on one left hand page there is a photo of Fort Prince of Wales in Churchill while, on the right, there is a photo of the Citadel in Quebec City. Sometimes the similarities are merely shapes, such as beluga whales and logs. Other times, a city is contrasted with a town, two bodies of water or two types of roads (winter roads in the Arctic and the paths created by icebreakers on Lake Superior) are compared, or a type of industry is highlighted (for instance, potato farms versus salmon farms).
Despite their bird's eye views, the photographs contain plenty of details. And, even though all of the photos are vibrant and noteworthy, a few stand out. One, of an island near Thunder Bay, shows readers the island's base through the clear waters of Lake Superior, reminding them that islands do not float. Another features several belugas swimming over aquatic vegetation in Hudson Bay. In the photograph, the whales look almost as if they are birds flying over a forest. Text is kept to a minimum in order for readers to focus the majority of their attention on the photos, but it is engaging enough to spark some interest for readers who might want to learn more about the subject and do further research on their own.
Some stunning photography that begs a second, and even a third, look, and maybe even a sequel.
Gail Hamilton, a former teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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