________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 17. . . .January 4, 2013


Wascana Wild Goose Chase.

Jean Freeman. Illustrated by Val Lawton.
Regina, SK: Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing, 2012.
32 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-894431-78-1.

Subject Headings:
Canada goose-Juvenile poetry.
Wascana Centre (Regina, Sask.)-Juvenile poetry.

Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.

Review by Mary Harelkin Bishop.

** /4



Here in the Land of Living Skies,
    there's a wonderful,
    marvelous place.
It's a park called “Wascana,”
    around a big lake,
    where people and nature
        share space.

With trees and green grass,
    and places to walk,
where folks jog and play,
       or just rest,
enjoying the wildlife,
    like Canada Geese.
That's what plenty of people
       like best!


Wascana Wild Goose Chase is an entertaining rollick through Wascana Park in Regina, SK, but more background knowledge than is provided in the story is necessary for readers to get full enjoyment and understanding of this lively tale. Wascana Creek meanders from the prairies into Regina and widens to form Wascana Lake in the heart of the city. The park is home to many of Regina's cultural, natural, educational and historical places, such as the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, pools and playgrounds, the Saskatchewan Royal Museum, the McKenzie Art Gallery, and Waterfowl Park which gives refuge to geese, ducks and other birds. Wascana Park is famous for the hundreds of Canada Geese which live in the park, some year-round.

internal art     The story is told through a simple rhyming pattern with inset text boxes giving more information about the park. The text is accompanied by bright, original watercolour paintings. The first page of the book gives a 'goose-eye' view map of this park which is located in downtown Regina and which plays host to many annual events, such as Canada Day celebrations and numerous runs and fund-raising events for charities. This park is the local heartbeat of the city, and Wascana Wild Goose Chase attempts to capture this feeling throughout the story.

     While exploring Wascana Park through the pages of this book, young readers are invited to interact with the text and the illustrations by searching for Lucy Goose in each picture. Her goose partner, Alexander Gander, literally goes on a wild goose chase as he searches for Lucy all over Wascana Park, hence the title of the book. In many ways, Wascana Wild Goose Chase is a search and find book along the line of Where's Waldo The illustrations are very detailed, each depicting at least one of the buildings or sites for which Wascana Park has become famous, at least in Saskatchewan. The story also goes through the four seasons, showing activities in the park throughout the year. So, while readers are searching for Lucy, they are learning about Wascana Park, one of Canada's largest urban parks.

     Although the text of the main storyline is within reach of most readers, the inset text boxes with added information is at a much higher reading level. The text boxes provide additional information about the history of the park or the significance of the buildings or some other tidbit of information that the writer considered interesting. I found the text boxes distracting to the story, and sometimes confusing because they didn't always appear to relate to what was happening on that page. Perhaps this additional information would have been better presented as an addendum at the end of the book.

     The story of Alexander's search for Lucy is funny and cute as he looks for her throughout the park. It is the best part of this story. Young readers will enjoy this as well as searching the pictures to find Lucy for themselves. The paintings depict Lucy in many humourous situations as she eludes Alexander. However, the text boxes read like a travel brochure or self-guided walking tour through Wascana Park. They detract from the actual story of Alexander and Lucy. I recommend this book with reservations because of the distraction and confusion of the text boxes, which will hinder young readers and pull them away from the main part of the story. Additionally, to fully understand the story, readers will need more experience or background knowledge of Wascana Park than is provided.

Recommended with reservations.

Mary Harelkin Bishop is the author of seven books and is most well-known for the “Tunnels of Moose Jaw” time travel adventures. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Curriculum Studies at the University of Saskatchewan and working with Saskatoon Tribal Council Schools as a Literacy Consultant.

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

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