________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 41. . . .June 21, 2013


Canadian Government. (Canada Close Up).

Elizabeth MacLeod.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2013.
60 pp., pbk., $7.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-1965-8.

Subject Headings:
Canada-Politics and government-Juvenile literature.
Federal government-Canada.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Liane Shaw.

*** /4



Did you know that in government a cabinet isn't a place for storing dishes, it's a special group of politicians? And that pages aren't pieces of paper in a book but are young people who help the politicians?


Part of the “Canada Close Up” series, Canadian Government, by Elizabeth MacLeod, is a simplified, yet richly detailed, look at the various aspects of the Canadian political system. The text takes young readers through the different levels of government, introducing them to the various politicians who are responsible for running the country, while at the same time providing interesting pieces of relevant historical data throughout.

     The book is set up to be user friendly, both as an academic resource for teachers and an independent research choice for students. A Table of Contents clearly outlines the material covered in each section, and a Glossary and Index are included to provide further detail.

     A limited pronunciation guide is included at the bottom of the Table of Contents and is used to clarify a handful of words scattered throughout the text. This assistive tool might have been more effective had it been more detailed, perhaps included with the glossary and index, thereby allowing readers the benefit of additional clarification of a wider choice of words.

     MacLeod makes a concerted effort to take an admittedly dry topic and make it interesting and approachable for young readers. The overall tone is upbeat, with exclamatory sentences sprinkled in to enhance the idea that politics is exciting. Topic sentences are often presented as questions in a way that should make students think about the information about to be shared. These questions could also provide teachers with discussion points for pre-reading activities.

     Information is presented on coloured pages which serve the dual purpose of adding to the overall appeal and making the text easier to read for some students with learning issues. Extra details and "fun facts" are provided throughout, separated from the regular text by size, background colour and a box style border. Coloured photographs are also used liberally throughout the book. A chapter entitled "Getting Involved and Voting" makes the process more "real" for students by suggesting ways in which they can become involved at an early age. This chapter should give teachers a good start point for experiential lesson plans.

     While obviously written for an elementary level audience, the level of detail provided in Canadian Government could also make it a useful resource for some older students with language based challenges.


Liane Shaw is a retired teacher and educational consultant, currently working as a freelance writer near Renfrew ON.

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

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