CM January 12, 1996. Vol II, Number 13

Table of Contents

 From the Editor

 Book Reviews

 Student-Led Conferences.
Janet Millar Grant, Barbara Heffler, Kadri Mereweather.
Review by Katherine Matthews.

 Sink or Swim.
William Pasnak.
Review by Katherine Matthews.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 13.

 How the Pinto Got Her Colour.
Kate Buchholz. Illustrated by Anne Hanley.
Review by Kenneth Field.
Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 9 - 11.

 Really Weird Animals.
Tammy Everts and Bobby Kalman.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Grades 1 - 5 / Ages 6 - 10.

 Video Review

 Toronto: Stories from the Life of a City.
Lynx Images Productions.
Review by Katherine Matthews.
Grades 8 - 13 / Ages 12 - Adult.


 International: "Taming the Tube" Project

 From the Editor

New Year's Evolution

button We've accomplished a lot since we started the electronic version of CM last June, and we're proud of the magazine. (You may have noticed that our Welcome page now sports this button indicating we're a "Top Canadian Web-Site" according to the 1996 Canadian Internet Directory.) But sometimes as you're swinging along from tree to tree, you begin to think brachiation might not be the most efficient way to go. Or, in our case, we've recently realized that restricting access to paid subscibers might not be the best way to market CM over the Internet.

That subscription-based plan was based on a print model, and of course the Internet is really an electronic mass-medium -- like TV. And like TV, it turns out that people expect everything on the 'net to be free.

Finding subscribers has been harder than we thought, particularly since we've been telling people that it will cost money just to take a look at the current issues. Although our overall readership isn't bad -- we're approaching the numbers of the old, paper CM -- our subscription revenue isn't what we'd hoped. So we've evolved a plan to substantially raise our readership in order to better chase advertising dollars. The goal is simply to stay financially healthy enough to be around for the long-term.

For starters, from now on access to CM will be free. We will continue to ask regular readers for a $42 annual contribution to cover our costs, but we're not going to try to keep out anyone who hasn't come up with the money. Sort of like PBS. (Well, we won't be doing pledge drives, but our publisher, the Manitoba Library Association, is a registered charitable organisation; anyone who makes a contribution, or who already has, can request a receipt for tax-purposes.)

Because we won't be restricting access based on subscriptions, we'll also be taking the opportunity to market ourselves more aggressively both in print and throughout the Internet. So tell your friends, colleagues, and relatives: CM can be had for free at -- or by sending an e-mail request for subscription to And expect to see us everywhere you turn . . .

Along with our new, wider-distribution policy, we've changed a couple of other things about the magazine. First, we're expanding our mandate to include reviews of non Canadian materials -- from a Canadian point of view. What's important to remember is that we will not be reducing the number of Canadian titles we cover, just starting to add international content as well. We'll continue to attempt to review Canadian materials comprehensively, and they will always form the majority of our content.

And one more thing. When we were a print publication, CM stood for Canadian Materials. People called us by both the short and long versions. When we changed to electronic production last spring, we kept the CM, but added the very catchy subtitle: "an electronic reviewing journal of Canadian materials for young people." Now that we won't be reviewing only Canadian content, our name is going to change a little again, to CM: Canadian Review of Materials. Shorter, even catchier, and more appropriate.

If you have any questions or comments about our new policy, please get in touch at the address beneath my name.

-- Duncan Thornton

Duncan Thornton

Executive Assistant
Peter Tittenberger

Book Review

Student-Led Conferences.

Janet Millar Grant, Barbara Heffler, Kadri Mereweather.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers, 1995. 128 pp, paper, $12.95.
ISBN 1-55138-054-4.

Review by Katherine Matthews.


The process of Student-Led Conferencing empowers students. They play major roles in developing goals for personal growth plans and then must follow through and achieve those goals. Student-Led Conferencing supports students as they build a repertoire of skills they will need in any future learning situation.
This new type of conferencing also benefits parents in many ways. It gives them a significant role to play in their children's learning. They will thereby gain a better understanding of that learning and the school itself. It is also a more comfortable way for parents to discuss their children's progress; everyone knows what to expect and the conference can be conducted in the parents' first language.

In Student-Led Conferences, the authors seek to present educators with an alternative to the traditional parent-teacher interview, which often puts parents, unfamiliar with teacher jargon and placed in an uncomfortable and powerless position, at a disadvantage.

Student-led conferences, on the other hand, remove responsibility for directing the parent-teacher interview from the teacher, and place it squarely in the hands of the students. Students discuss their learning experiences and contributions to classroom activities, and introduce parents and teacher to facilitate further discussion of their progress

Grant, a course director at the Faculty of Education at York University, and Heffler and Mereweather, consultants with the York Region Board of Education, are all experienced teachers and have experience in the provision of support service to teachers. In their book, the authors present a thorough examination of the subject of student-led conferences, substantiated by both recent research and by practical application and testing in classroom situations.

The authors note that "successful Student-Led Conferencing requires a substantial investment of time." However, once the decision to proceed is made, the book provides an excellent support, complete with sample plans and report cards, black line masters for recording performance and reflection -- everything one needs to effectively set up this form of conferencing.

In an age where accountability for student learning and the demand for detailed information regarding student progress is paramount, Student-Led Conferences provides teachers with a way to involve students and parents more meaningfully in the process.

Highly recommended.

Katherine Matthews is a Teacher/Librarian at the Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto.

Book Review

Sink or Swim.

William Pasnak.
Toronto: James Lorimer & Company, 1995. 89pp, paper, $8.95.
ISBN 1-55028-480-0.

Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 13.
Review by Katherine Matthews.


My mum is still listening and writing things down. She's wearing about twenty-seven gold bracelets, like she usually does, and I can hear them clinking as her hand moves on the pad in her lap. Finally she says, " . . . I think it sounds perfect. I'd like to sign him up for it."
When she gets off the phone, she has this great big smile on her face that's supposed to make me like the bad news she's going to give me, which is: "Dario -- you're going to summer camp."
I'm stunned. "What for? I didn't do anything!"

In Sink or Swim, twelve-year-old Dario has plans for his summer: hanging out at his Uncle's café, clearing dishes for a cut of the tips, maybe shooting a few baskets on the side. Dario's mother, however, also has plans for his summer, plans that involve two weeks at Camp Skookum.

Water sports, swimming, and sailing are the specialty of Camp Skookum, but Dario is still dealing with a fear of water stemming from a fall into a swimming pool when he was two. A clever interpretation of "swimming" which allows him to do the backstroke (and keep his face out of the water) gets him out of swimming lessons and into sailing lessons.

Dario's problems don't end there, however; his rivalry with Lindsay Rawlings comes to an exciting climax with the Windlass Island Regatta. Dario doesn't win the Regatta, but does end up getting the award for Most Improved Water Skills. Most importantly, Dario grows in the process, beginning a friendship with his former grudge mate.

Pasnak, the author of several books for children, has created an entertaining addition to Lorimer's "Sports Stories" series. Readers will be familiar with many of the characters: the nerd, the jock, the brain, the bully, the class clown. Fortunately, Pasnak imbues his main characters with enough detail to round out their personalities. Dario in particular is a likeable and thoroughly believable twelve-year-old: competitive and full of spirit.

Dialogue is lively and realistic, and humour (usually in the form of Dario's snappy one-liners and come-backs) is in great evidence.


Katherine Matthews is a Teacher/Librarian at the Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto.

Book Review

How the Pinto Got Her Colour.

Kate Buchholz. Illustrated by Anne Hanley.
Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications, 1995. 31pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-921827-48-2

Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 9 - 11.
Review by Kenneth Field.


It was at dawn, on an early spring day, when the Great Spirit's favorite mare gave birth to a lovely filly. Although the sun had appeared in the east as a fiery orange ball, its rays had not yet warmed the ground the foal was born upon. The winter frost was slowly coming out of the earth, causing wispy clouds of steam to rise and drift about. It gently covered the mare with a soft, white blanket as if assuring her of privacy while she laboured to bring the foal into this world. With one last strong contraction the mare lifted her head, causing a break in the mist, and the wet, slippery foal made her debut.

In the time before horses were differently coloured, they were all white, causing no end of confusion. In the story that Kate Buchholz tells, the Great Spirit, displeased with this situation, finds a way to make horses distinct from one another. It is the bond that grows between a young native girl, Breeze, and her horse, Tiana, that leads the Great Spirit to the way to make pinto ponies distinct among horses. How the Pinto Got Her Colour is very much about the love of Breeze for her grandfather, her people, and her horse; and the strength that love gives Breeze to overcome adversity.

This is Kate Buchholz's first children's book. She does a good job of portraying the bonds between Breeze and her grandfather, and those between Breeze and Tiana, both of which are crucial to the story. Buchholz moves easily from quiet moments of tenderness and sadness to moments of action and danger, the narrative variety keeping the story flowing well. She is also successful in making the presence of the Great Spirit as guardian of the two protagonists felt throughout the story.

Anne Hanley's illustrations are simple yet evocative. She too captures the changing moods of the story and helps bring it to life. The type used for the text is large and clear which is particularly important as the print is, in most cases, placed on part of the illustration.

Highly recommended.

Kenneth Field is a librarian for Traill College at Trent University in Peterborough, ON.

Book Review

Really Weird Animals.

Tammy Everts and Bobby Kalman.
Niagra-on-the-Lake, ON: Crabtree Publishing Co., 1995. 32pp. Paper, $7.95 / library bound, $20.95
ISBN 0-86505-627-7 (library), 0-86505-727-3 (paper)

Grades 1 - 5 / Ages 6 - 10.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.


The hagfish has no bones! Its muscular body has only a long piece of tough, bending tissue called gristle, which acts as its spine.
The hagfish is sometimes called a "slime eel" or "slime hag" because of the thick layer of slime, or mucus, that coats its skin. Glands down the sides of its body constantly produce mucus, making the hagfish so slippery that it can crawl inside its prey. When the single nostril of the hagfish becomes clogged with slime, it simply sneezes to clear its nose.

Really Weird Animals is another of the Crabapples series created by Bobbie Kalman. It contains glossy two-page spreads including text and large photographs, and some smaller drawings of unusual-looking animals, including the armadillo, the hagfish, the capybara, the zorilla, and the wombat.

The text describes the animal, some of its eating and living habits, and its special adaptations -- the reasons it's "really weird." The book includes a table of contents, a glossary of words highlighted throughout the text, an index, and a final page with extra information about each animal. The bright cover features a proboscis monkey on the front and a tarsier on the back.

Each page provides eight or nine facts in two or three paragraphs, which testify to the animal's uniqueness. But the location of each animal's habitat is not identified, an important omission that could have been rectified either with a small map or a few words. However, the information about each animal is interesting and clearly written. The excellent visual presentation makes the book appealing to the target age group.

Optional purchase.

Harriet Zaidman is a Winnipeg teacher/librarian.

Video Review

Toronto: Stories from the Life of a City.
Part I: York.

Produced by Russell Floren.
Directed by Barbara Chisholm and Andrea Gutsche.
Lynx Images Productions, 1994. VHS, 23 min., $99.95 (for school boards); $39.95 (for individual schools).

Distributed by Lynx Images Releasing.
174 Spadina Ave, #606. Toronto, ON, M5T 2C2.

Grades 8 - 13 / Ages 12 - Adult.
Review by Katherine Matthews.

Beginning with the sale of Toronto by the Mississauga Indians to the English for seventeen-hundred pounds and sundry articles, this film narrates Toronto's history from the initial English settlement in 1793 -- given the "dutiful colonial name"; of York -- to its incorporation in 1834 -- with a return to the Indian name, Toronto.

Narration from contemporary writings, such as Mrs. Simcoe's diaries, an inspector's report of unsanitary conditions on Adelaide Street, and an eyewitness account of the cholera epidemic of 1832, enliven the film. As a disgruntled settler complains about the monopoly of the Family Compact, the film-makers introduce men such as William Allan, President of the Bank of Upper Canada; William Jarvis, first Grand Master of the Masons in Canada (although he'd only joined them a month before leaving England); and Reverend Strachan, suspected of converting from Presbyterianism to Anglicanism to increase his chances for success in "this English-centered town."

Students may be taken aback by the popularity of "spirits" of the time: nine busy taverns for four hundred adults in 1812; drunkenness punished by the imposed task of having to remove two stumps from the public roadways (the Stump Act).

As the film introduces some of York's most prominent citizens through their portraits, their homes and their deeds, the scene shifts to views of modern Toronto and its streets named after individuals such as customs officer William Jarvis, or merchant Quentin St. George. As William Baldwin describes his new home on Davenport Hill, Spadina House (from the Indian word for "hill"), a modern image of the Baldwin Steps appears. Old maps of York and sketches and paintings fade into scenes of today's Toronto. The result is a film to catch and hold the student's attention -- although the images of modern Toronto could have been brought into sharper focus.

I would recommend this film as a supplement to Canadian history classes from grade eight onward. Teachers at that level will be able to develop the film's relatively brief references to John Graves Simcoe, the Family Compact, William Lyon Mackenzie and the Colonial Advocate, American raids in 1813, and so on. At a very reasonable cost, the film-makers have done a good job in bringing archival material to life as an educational tool.


Katherine Matthews is a Teacher/Librarian at the Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto.



It's time again for the annual Taming the Tube project run through Canada's SchoolNet. Last year we had over 250 schools worldwide participate in this Internet research happening! Join us in this internationally acclaimed project and become part of the global village! We now have WWW access and will be publishing our findings on the Web. Please feel free to pass on this "Call to Participate."
There is a registration deadline, so don't delay.


Dalia Naujokaitis
Coordinator of Taming the Tube
St. Elizabeth Catholic School
893 Admiral Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada



TV-Watching Habits of 10-to-12 year olds

Have your students ever wondered how much TV they watch in a week? Have they ever compared their TV watching habits and attitudes with other students their age? In the Taming the Tube Project your students will have ample opportunities to make such comparisons with students from different parts of the world. The Grade 6 class at St. Elizabeth Catholic School in Ottawa, Ontario Canada, is presently studying the effects of mass media -- especially TV -- on kids. As part of this study the students are monitoring their weekly TV-watching habits. They want to find out the following :

  • How much TV is watched per week by 10-to-12 year olds?
  • Who watches more TV, the girls or the boys?
  • Are there any geographical differences?
  • What are the favourite TV shows of this age group?
  • How does TV influence the attitudes and lifestyles of 10-to-12 year olds?



(c) April 1994
by Dalia Naujokaitis

DATE: Feb. 12, 1996 - May 6, 1996
(Registration: Jan. 12 - Feb 9)

PURPOSE: This research activity allows students to measure a behaviour in which they have all participated, TV-WATCHING.

They will learn:

  1. to collect data
  2. to organize information
  3. to make predictions and formulate hypotheses as well as to analyze their data by determining the mean, mode, median, and range
  4. to locate their research team schools on maps
  5. to use telecommunications:terminal software commands, uploading and downloading, e-mail, WWW
  6. to use databases and spreadsheets

SUBJECTS: Mathematics, Research Skills, Science, Geography, Media Literacy, Computer literacy

GRADE LEVELS: 4, 5, 6, 7 (ages 10-12)

Dalia Naujokaitis
St. Elizabeth School
893 Admiral Avenue
Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1Z 6L6
Telephone: (613) 728-4744

In order to participate you must agree to do the following:

  1. register by completing the information requested below including the latitude and longitude
  2. keep to the timeline in sending Hello letter and raw data (other classes are counting on you) upload the raw data in requested form
  3. evaluate this project by filling out an evaluation form provided by the coordinator along with any comments or suggestion for improvement

NB: When you register you will be added to Tametube list. Further files will be sent to you to help with the HELLO letter and DATA collection.

HOW TO REGISTER: Send a separate registration for each class participating

E-mail address -
with Subject: Register-Tame Tube

Name of contact:____________________________
e-mail address: ____________________________
School: ____________________________________
School address: ____________________________
School phone: ______________________________
Latitude: __________________________________
Longitude: _________________________________
Grade(s): __________________________________
Subject(s): ________________________________
Number of students in class:________________
Access to WWW: YES___ NO___
Home page URL (if any)______________________

Description of school/community:

(5 lines or less):


FEB. 9
Last day to register for participation in the project. On registration you will be added to the Tametube listserver.

FEB. 19
Project Coordinator sends global addresses and complete list of participants to participating schools

FEB. 26
Send Hello Letter to tametube list

FEB. 19- MARCH 22
Participating classes gather data (any 7-day cycle)

Last day for sending raw data to coordinator

Return Survey Questionnaire (optional but recommended) to Coordinator (not the list)

Data compiled & returned to research teams for further use


  1. Upon registration participating classes are added to Tametube listserver.
  2. Participant list sent to all schools for locating research team members using latitude and longitude.
  3. Each class composes a Hello letter to be sent to all participants. Format will be sent after registration is confirmed.
  4. Participating classes prepare a log book for keeping track of individual TV-watching times for the chosen 7-day cycle. Each student predicts how much time he/she spends watching TV in a week.
  5. Each student keeps a log of TV watched during the agreed 7-day cycle. The TOTAL TIME WATCHED A WEEK is recorded by each child by adding up daily times watched over the 7-day cycle ROUNDED TO THE NEAREST 5 MINUTES each day. At the end of the week the minutes for the whole week FOR EACH STUDENT are totalled (THE RAW SCORE) and recorded for sending to Coordinator (not to the list).
  6. TV watching does NOT include video games nor rented movies. Movie specials or TV programs that have been taped directly and watched later are included for this survey
  7. At the end of the monitored week, the teacher and students summarize the results for the ENTIRE CLASS by noting the RANGE (from the lowest to the highest of total times watched) and by calculating 3 different types of "average"

    add up all the children's total times watched divided by the number of children

    list the data of total times watched by the children in ascending or descending order and select the value that falls in the middle (for even numbers take 2 middle values and average them)

    from the same list of data select the total time watched (to the nearest 5 minutes) that occurs most frequently

    (This is an excellent time to use databases and spreadsheets for keeping track of results and for doing statistical analysis, graphing).

  8. Calculate the RANGE, MEAN, MEDIAN, and MODE for the girls.
  9. Calculate the RANGE, MEAN, MEDIAN, and MODE for the boys.
  10. List the favourite TV programs for girls and boys separately, indicating # of times chosen.
  11. Students fill out TV WATCHERS ANONYMOUS SURVEY. This survey has been devised by the Grade 6 students. The survey looks at student attitudes towards violence on TV, role models, influence of TV on clothing, etc. This is OPTIONAL, but highly requested.
  12. All NUMERICAL, SURVEY, and FAVOURITE TV PROGRAMS data are forwarded to the coordinator for analysis and compilation of global results.
  13. Format for sending collected DATA will be sent to participants when project begins.
  14. DATA of individual classes and global results of survey are shared with all participants and published in hard copy and online. The hypotheses are tested out with real data.

Dalia Naujokaitis St. Elizabeth School, 893 Admiral Ave.

Ottawa, Ontario, K1Z 6L6, CANADA

Copyright © 1995 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