________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 32 . . . . April 20, 2012


Hey Canada!

Vivien Bowers. Illustrated by Milan Pavlovic.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2012.
72 pp., hardcover, $21.99.
ISBN 978-1-77049-255-4.

Subject Headings:
Canada-Description and travel-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Sherry Faller.

**½ /4



Lower Fort Garry – We went to an old Hudson Bay Company trading post. It’s on the Red River. From here, workers paddled boats loaded with beaver skins to Hudson Bay. That’s over a thousand kilometers (621 miles) away. And sometimes the heavy boats had to be dragged overland. We saw a huge metal sculpture of men pulling a boat over a portage trail. “I’d die,” I said. “Or at least whine,” said Gran. We used touch screens to learn about the fur trade and the trading posts up north where First Nations trappers brought the beaver skins to trade for blankets and stuff. The skins were sent to Europe to turn into fancy hats. Every well dressed gentleman had to have one. The beavers were almost wiped out. Cal thought the gentlemen should have worn tuques or ball caps instead.

Vivien Bowers has created a narrative of a trip across Canada taken by Gran and her grandkids, Alice and Cal. This book is a shortened version of her previous books, Wow, Canada!, That’s Very Canadian, and Crazy About Canada!. Geared for a younger audience, Hey Canada! is easier to read and will be enjoyed by boys and girls alike. The text flows with facts as well as humorous anecdotes made by the two kids and Gran. Classes studying parts of Canada will be able to focus on one chapter at a time, learning about the key cities, tourist attractions, history and wildlife. Each chapter begins with a small map, the provincial bird and flower.

      Bowers has included the technology many kids use today. Cal often tweets some quick information, and a “Historical U Turn” page is presented in the graphic novel format. Each chapter has a list of items that the reader can try to find. Some are in the text while others are in the photos. The travellers are drawn as cartoon characters, and pictures of them visiting locations are interspersed with actual colour photographs.

      After enjoying the large photographs and colourful pages in her three previous books published by Maple Leaf Press, I found the photos in Hey Canada!, published by Tundra Books, to be disappointing. Many are so small and dark that the reader has to hold the book closer in order to see the details. Many photos go beyond the white borders, touching the edges of the page, perhaps to increase their size. Young reader will find the two panels of text more inviting, but the pictures less so.

      Trips are more exciting when there is a stowaway on board. Cal’s hamster makes an escape from its cage, and, throughout the book, it keeps leaving evidence that it is still in the car – somewhere. Even a lobster trap will not hold it for long!

      Bowers has done a wonderful job of keeping the story flowing with information that could have become boring, but that stays alive because of the kids’ quips. Most of the facts are accurate at the time of writing, but Ottawa’s Rideau Canal is no longer the longest skating rink as reported. [Editor’s note: Winnipeg’s skating trail at the Forks claims that record.]

      Hey Canada! includes a table of contents page, an index, a page of the provincial and territorial flags and three pages of the map of Canada. In summary, Hey Canada! could be used as a good resource for students in the younger grades when they first learning about the parts of this nation. Who knows? It may spark an interest in travelling across our country. I would recommend Hey Canada! for any early year’s library or classroom.


Sherry Faller 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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