CM February 2, 1996. Vol II, Number 16

Table of Contents

 Book Reviews

 Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt.
Barbara Smucker. Illustrated by Janet Wilson.
Review by Margaret Ross.
Grades K - 3 / Ages 4 - 9.

 Wesakejack and the Flood.
Bill Ballantyne. Illustrated by Linda Mullin.
Review by Margaret Ross.
Grades Pre-school - 6 / Ages 4 - 11.

 Maddie in Danger.
Louise Leblanc. Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay.
Translated by Sarah Halifax Cummins from Sophie est en Danger.
Review by A. Edwardsson.
Grades 3 - 5 / Ages 8 - 10.

 The Root Cellar. 2nd ed.
Janet Lunn. Illustrated by Scott Cameron.
Review by John D. Crawford.
Grades 3 - 9 / Ages 8 - 14.

 The Coastline of Forgetting.
Leslie Choyce.
Review by Pat Bolger.
Grades 9 - 13 / Ages 13 - Adult.

 William Hutt: Masks and Faces.
Edited by Keith Garebian.
Review by Pat Bolger.
Grades 10 - 13/ Ages 14 - Adult.


 Notable Web Sites

 The Great Canadian Trivia Contest

 The Little Math Puzzle

 News: Manitoba

 Manitoba Young Reader's Choice Award Luncheon


CM has recently reviewed two video titles by Lynx Images, Toronto: Stories from the Life of a City, and Ghosts of the Bay. Unfortunately, the contact information we provided was out of date.

Lynx Images may be reached at:

Lynx Images
P.O. Box 5961
Station `A'
Toronto, ON
M5W 1P4
Phone: (416) 535-4553

From the Mailbox:

Response to Really Weird Animals Review


We were very pleased to see our company represented on your site, and particularly pleased with the review of our Crabapple book, Really Weird Animals (CM Vol. II, No. 13, January 12).
We wanted to point out two errors, just for the record: Within her review, Ms. Zaidman states that, "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." In fact, each animal's habitat is clearly identified at the book's end, in the section called, "What is in the picture?"
Also, at the page's top, Bobbie Kalman's name is spelled incorrectly ("Bobby").

Thank you again for the exposure & review, and we look forward to seeing more of your website in the future!

Greg Nickles, Editor, Crabtree.

Harriet Zaidman replies:

The page at the end called "What is in the picture?" lists, in two columns, the pages on which photographs appeared, and gives a variety of information about the animals. It does include countries in which the animals lived, but not in an organized manner.
For example, the information for the picture on page 4 (in the first column) is: "Warthogs live on the grasslands and in some deserts of Africa." The information for the pictures on Page 20 and 21 (in the second column) is: "A male warthog has larger warts and tusks than a female." and "Warthogs are gray or black, but they may appear red or yellow because of the muddy clay that sticks to their skin."
So while the location of the animal is there, it is not apparent that this information is specifically available. It appears to be an assortment of information.
A better way of organizing this would be to put the information, including the location as well as other information, with the pictures. As it is, a child has to flip back and forth between the photographs and the back page, and hunt through the lists on the back page to get complete information about the animal.
If an adult doesn't see this right away, I think a child might not either.
This does not mean that the book is not useful! My review states its positive points.

-- H.Z.

Mr. Nickles is indisputably correct about the spelling error, however, which was not Ms. Zaidman's; it was a typo which crept in while I was editing.

My apologies -- we'll fix it in the archives.

-- D.T.

Duncan Thornton

Executive Assistant
Peter Tittenberger

Book Review

Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt.

Barbara Smucker. Illustrated by Janet Wilson.
Toronto: Lester Publishing, 1995. 32pp, cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 1-895555-70-1.

Grades K - 3 / Ages 4 - 9.
Review by Margaret Ross.


On the day before they were to leave, Grandmother called Selina into the kitchen. "Come, Child," she said. "Let's spread out the new quilt top. It's almost finished."
Before them unfolded the warm, bright beauty of the matching pieces of cloth that held memories for everyone in their family.
"I am giving this quilt top to you, Selina. Take it to your new home, and when it is quilted, spread it out over your bed. You will think of me whenever you look at it."
Selina hugged the precious gift tightly in her arms.

Children will find this an enchanting story. Not only does it show the love of a grandparent but it shows how gifts have more than material value. Selina must leave her home and travel to an unknown land and she must leave her beloved grandmother. As the excerpt above shows, though Selina is leaving, she takes with her a beautiful quilt made with pieces of her life.

Barbara Smucker casts a lovely tale. Many children today will feel empathy with the little girl who has to leave all she loves and flee for her safety. Smucker has written other stories in this vein, and I like her style -- the story flows well and it will hold a child's interest.

Janet Wilson's are beautiful and will appeal to anyone who makes quilts today. The book also provides the history of some of the quilts included.

Students in grades two and three will like reading this book but it also is a good book to read to younger children. I think a wide range of people would enjoy it.


Margaret Ross is a librarian at the Burk's Falls, Armour & Ryerson Union Public Library in Burk's Falls, ON.

Book Review

Wesakejack and the Flood.

Bill Ballantyne. Illustrated by Linda Mullin.
Winnipeg: Bain & Cox, 1994. 32pp, cloth, $12.95 ($18.95 with audio cassette).
ISBN 0-921368-45-3.

Grades Pre-school - 6 / Ages 4 - 11.
Review by Margaret Ross.


One morning Wesakejack and his companions woke up to find the rain and the wind had stopped. Soon the sun was shining and the water was still and smooth. The animals asked Wesakejack, "How do we find land? Where is it?" Wesakejack said, "There is land. Under the water. If one of you can get a piece of earth for me, I could expand it into an island."

This North American native myth is very like the biblical story of flood. Wesakejack sees the fighting and unhappiness of his people and does something about it a -- flood, which teaches a drastic lesson.

After the flood comes, Beaver, Otter, and Muskrat join Wesakejack on his log (showing the native respect and admiration for animals). When Wesakejack tells them they need a piece of earth the get the land back, Muskrat wants to try. Otter and Beaver laugh at the little animal and insist on doing the looking themselves, but both fail. Muskrat of course eventually succeeds, a triumph for the little one that children could identify with.

The book is beautifully done. The illustrations by Linda Mullin are descriptive and will appeal to children.

Including a brief Cree vocabulary makes this a resource as well as a story book. Early grades readers will enjoy this book, but I think it will be useful for all grades, including pre-schoolers.

This is a book I'd consider buying not only for the children's section of our library, but for my grandchildren.


Margaret Ross is a librarian at the Burk's Falls, Armour & Ryerson Union Public Library in Burk's Falls, ON.

Book Review

Maddie in Danger.

Louise Leblanc. Illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay.
Translated by Sarah Halifax Cummins from Sophie est en Danger.
Halifax, NS: Formac Publishing Ltd., 1995. 62pp, paper, $5.95 / boards, $14.95.
ISBN: 0-88780-306-7 (paper), 0-88780-307-5 (board).

Ages 8 - 10 / Grades 3 - 5.
Review by A. Edwardsson.


. . . what a nerd. I wondered if he might be too young to take part in my plan, On the other hand, I needed his help. "I hope you brought your money? We need it for my plan."
"A plan? For buying chips? No way! You buy your chips, I'll buy mine."
Grrr! I tell you, it takes a lot of patience to get what you want. Fortunately, I am a very patient person. "Not for buying chips, idiot! A plan for THE EXTERMINATOR."
"The film? But it was on TV last night. . . "
"We have a VCR! And the video store is right next door to the corner store, so . . ."
"You want to rent the video? But the clerk will never rent out a horror film to kids."
"I've already figured that out, I took Dad's video card from his dresser drawer. I'll tell the clerk that my father sent me down to rent the video for him."
"But . . . Gran won't let us watch it either. No way!"
Grrr! Patience, Maddie. That's what I told myself . . . "We'll watch it after Gran goes to bed. If she stays up late tonight, we'll watch it tomorrow night."

Maddie and her brother weren't allowed to watch a horror movie on TV Friday night, so she schemes to rent it while her parents are away for the weekend. The plan works, and she and Alexander sneak downstairs to watch several gory scenes . . . "The Exterminator grabbed a girl about my age and crushed her in his hands. All the blood ran out of her body. Her mother went mad with grief and threw herself on the Exterminator. He picked up his gun and sliced her up, drooling with pleasure."

Luckily, younger brother Julian wakes Gran, who turns the TV off and sends them to bed. The next day Gran heads to the video store and gives the clerk a piece of her mind. When the children have nightmares, she suggests they let the Exterminator sleep, and not allow him to "come alive."

"At school, no one mentioned having any nightmares, of course. But no one mentioned the Exterminator either. Even the leader of our gang, Patrick Walsh, didn't have anything to say about it. Usually he goes on and on about everything he's done, and buries us in swear words and insults. He makes us feel so small. That's why he's the leader." Maddie impresses the gang by telling how she tricked the store clerk, so they could rent and watch the movie.

Then someone dressed as the Exterminator threatens the group, telling Maddie to collect fifty dollars and deliver it to him at the park or else -- SLASH! Gran to the rescue again -- she unmasks Nicholas, the son of the owners of the corner store. Nicholas confesses he's being terrorized by a real gang called the Bald Eagles.

The police arrest the extortioners, and neighbours, friends, and police gather in Maddie's basement to discuss the events. "Nicholas suggested that I should be made the leader of the gang for having displayed such courage."

At this point, Maddie's parents return and she realises that their punishment "would be as bad as anything the Exterminator could dish out." She hopes they won't punish her if she explains "that I am already marked for life. I know I will never get used to violence, especially real violence."

Author Louise Leblanc tackles a topical subject -- kids and violence. Unfortunately, the fast-paced plot is somewhat convoluted, and while she raises the issue of gangs, she doesn't really address it.

Gran is a feisty character and comforting ally, but -- unbelievably -- she never reprimands any of the children for their bad behaviour. For example, when Maddie wants Nicholas to spill the beans, he:

wouldn't crack, no matter how much I threatened him. "I'll tell your dad you steal chips from his store. I thought you were my friend. You give me chips and then you --"
"Hey!" yelled Alexander. "You gave stolen chips to Maddie and not to me? How come?" . . . Gran stepped in.
"You won't get anything out of Nicholas with threats. I think he has already been terrorised enough."

And narrator Maddie's own character is disturbing -- she never seems to accept responsibility for her actions, and seldom differentiates right from wrong. When the clerk gives her the movie she muses that "he knew exactly what I was doing, but he rented this unbelievably violent film to me anyway. It's amazing. Honestly, some people have absolutely no conscience!" Hopefully the readers will read between the lines and draw a better conclusion.

Although Maddie rents the movie her parents forbade them to watch, in the end she does " `the right thing . . . what you should do if you're threatened. She wasn't afraid to tell someone.' " Still, her last-page conclusions about violence aren't convincing.

Fans of Maddie can find several other books about her in Formac Publishing's "First Novel" series. Marie-Louise Gay portrays Maddie in whimsical black and white illustrations, as a freckled, mop-haired eight- or nine-year-old, reminiscent of characters from her successful picture books like Angel and The Polar Bear. The watercolour cover shows Maddie and Alexander on the couch looking frightened.

With short engaging chapters, clear text, and a reading level of 2.5, this story may capture reluctant readers. Teachers searching for Canadian chapter books may also be interested.

Recommended with reservations.

A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. She has a Bachelor of Education degree and a Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.

Book Review

The Root Cellar. 2nd ed.

Janet Lunn. Illustrated by Scott Cameron.
Toronto: Lester Publishing, 1994. 231pp, hardcover, $24.95.
ISBN 1-895555-39-6. CIP.

Grades 3 - 9 / Ages 8 - 14.
Review by John D. Crawford.


It had rained in the night, and the morning sun shined up the cobbles on the street and made the iron knobs of the hitching posts that stood in a row in front of the depot look like polished ebony sticks.

Janet Lunn's The Root Cellar needs no review. It is a well-established novel for young teenagers which has won many awards. This attractive second edition, published thirteen years after the book first appeared, is distinguished from its predecessor chiefly by the illustrations. Scott Cameron's work is impressive and provides the reader with a sense of times past and a picture of the characters of the story.

As the original is out of print, any elementary- or middle-school library in Canada which does not have a copy of The Root Cellar on its shelves would do well to purchase a copy of the second edition; those with a copy of the first edition should consider carefully whether the condition and usage of that copy warrants its being added to or replaced.


John D. Crawford is a retired teacher/librarian living in Victoria.

Book Review

The Coastline of Forgetting.

Leslie Choyce.
Lawrencetown Beach, NS: Pottersfield Press, 1995. 89pp, paper, $8.95.
ISBN 0-919001-95-5.

Grades 9 - 13 / Ages 13 - Adult.
Review by Pat Bolger.

In his introduction to this collection of poetry, Choyce explains what led him to make a walk along a section of the Nova Scotia coast: his attempt to nave a drowning woman made him suddenly aware of "how much brutal indifference lurks beneath the ocean's often beautiful exterior." He also describes his walk from Lawrencetown to Chezzetcook as "an attempt for me to tie back together the entirety of my life along this shore, to lose myself in the forgetful shoreline . . . and record, just once, exactly who I am and where I've been."

The forty poems here reveal Choyce as an ideal companion for this kind of very long walk, and for the short period of closeness that exists between poet and reader. He's observant, aware, struggles with everyday concerns like mending ties with his brother, and involves us deeply in his pilgrimage to exorcise the memory of his "lost battle/ to save the woman of Stoney Beach" and answer the question: "How can the sea remain/ both death and life for me?" ("Chezzetcook Inlet").

Choyce has a gift for the precise image: "Our feet stir stones from the cobbled road/ and send grasshoppers stinging the air" ("August 5: Three Fathom Harbour to Hawkeye Island"); the gulls in "Wedge Island" "shriek and dive/ and carve long shadows with their wings/ as they fence us in with their fury/ and stage a frenzied ceiling/ hung low beneath the clouds." He is always alert to the relentless process of change, and as he and his brother discover an old well on a tiny island, his mind leaps ahead: "One day soon the sea will meet this well/ and steal the rocks that once made walls/ until it gushes free on every side/ and spends itself at last/ in salt." ("Facing Rat Rock.")

From the colour photo on the cover to the art by Judy Brannen that complements the text, this handsomely produced book will attract browsers. Even younger teens would enjoy "Otter," "Rocks," "The Wreck," "The Porcupine," and "What I'm Doing Here." And for those who surf (or just dream about it) there is "Caprice":

This week
the Tropics turn
and venture north
to rush this coast with seas of thunder.
I'm tired too of a docile summer;
let heat avenge us with murder
before we step back into winter next.
Even now, as the Arctic inhales deep,
ready to blow the ice back into our veins
the South Atlantic is on the make.

Tomorrow when the waves explode
along this bouldered point
I'll stroke the sea to prove my dance
upon their backs
and carve my name on ocean walls
then drive for frantic light
as they tunnel on the reef
and I pretend I know their ways;
I've walked on water all my life.

Adolescents will welcome this addition to the Canadian poetry shelf and budget-squeezed librarians will welcome the now-rare, three-digit price tag.

Highly recommended.

Pat Bolger is a retired Teacher/Librarian living in Renfrew, Ontario.

Book Review

William Hutt: Masks and Faces.

Edited by Keith Garebian.
Oakville, ON: Mosaic Press, 1995. 190pp, paper, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88962-583-2.

Grades 10 - 13 / Ages 14 - Adult.
Review by Pat Bolger.


This book is a tribute to William Hutt: it takes advantage of his seventy-fifth birthday to keep faith with his past, present, and future. There has been only one other book on Hutt -- my own biography, a theatre portrait that ended with achievements till 1988. So, there is ample need for an extension, for catching up with Hutt who could no more desert the theatre than the sun lose its place in the solar system. The pieces in this book are offered, therefore, as forms of further biography, with the implicit realization that the totality of William Hutt, the private man and the public performer, is still too great to be encompassed by individual accounts, however perceptive they might be.

This passage from the introduction to Masks and Faces establishes Garebian's position as Hutt's biographer, friend, and unabashed fan -- the ideal person to organize this festschrift for the actor.

The tributes, which come from other actors and directors, as well as a designer, a stage manager, and a photographer, are organized under three broad headings: the actor, the director, and the man. This structure eliminates the repetition that frequently haunts this kind of collection.

Most of the contributors have offered short reminiscences, like Timothy Findlay's "One of My Best Friends," an affectionate recollection of their first meeting and their friendship over the last forty-five years. Others delve more thoroughly into the technical side of things. In "Instinctive Responses," Christopher Newton analyzes Hutt's listening "-- the silence that is alive and always curiously dangerous." Mervyn Blake's "Three Lears" and Philip Silver's "William Hutt and The Merry Wives of Windsor" would be especially useful to theatre arts students -- Silver gives a wonderfully clear picture of what a theatre designer actually does.

Much the longest piece here is Garebian's own "Craft Slices," an examination of Hutt's "singular essence as an actor . . . The invisibility of his talent and personality." Many readers will find this very difficult reading, as Garebian slides occasionally into "critic-speak":

The production revealed how the rigidity and haughtiness of an Apollonian idealism in morality, religion, and politics could break apart from the turbulent stirrings of a Dionysian force rooted in the libidinal subconscious.

The photo section is introduced by theatre photographer Robert C. Ragsdale, and it is exceptional: thirty pages of carefully selected photographs, many full-page, and all beautifully reproduced. The photo archives at Stratford, the Shaw, and the Grand Theatre have yielded up treasures, including the front cover's colour portrait of Hutt in The Imaginary Invalid.

Garebian has also provided a little information on each contributor, an index, a chronology, and a selection of excerpts from recent reviews.

Recommended for schools with active theatre programs.

Pat Bolger is a retired Teacher/Librarian living in Renfrew, Ontario.

Notable Web Sites

This is the second in a regular series on noteworthy, useful, or just interesting sites
we've turned up and actually checked.

Please send us URLs and evaluations of any web-sites you think deserve the exposure.


how cool a site is and how much time it's likely to waste are intrinsically related.

Children's Literature Service

The Children's Literature Service of the National Library of Canada produces an electronic products page which has links to a number of Canadian and non-Canadian sites that pertain to children's literature. This page would be of particular interest to those who work in the area of children s literature -- teachers, librarians, authors, illustrators, and editors. You can also access the site through the National Library's homepage.

Source: Jennifer Sullivan


This web version of Equinox, "Canada's Magazine of Discovery" is slick, though not everything is hooked up yet. But it contains gems like this:

Jurassic Poop

Fossil hunters at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum recently uncovered the first known specimen of Tyrannosaurus Rex droppings. The palaeo pooper scoopers found the 16-inch petrified log while excavating an adult T-Rex skeleton. Dino doo is a valuable find, because it can tell scientists a great deal about the creatures' diet. Early research has revealed that this T-Rex's dinner was an unfortunate duck-billed dinosaur.

Canadian Football League Home Page

I don't really have to say anything else, do I?

MediaLink Home Page

Is multi-media software an important educational tool? Well, don't get me started. But it's undeniably fun and cool. This site lets you download MediaLink "a hypermedia authoring tool that allows users to develop their own multimedia lessons by assembling a variety of text materials, sound files, digitized photos, or QuickTime movies" for free. Currently there's only a Mac version, but a Windows version for the operating-system challenged will be available come spring. It doesn't do everything MacroMedia Director can, but then the price is 100% lower.

Survival Research Laboratories

Survival Research Laboratories is an organization which knows what do with robots; they build, in the words of Ivan Stang, "enormous, noisy, and very dangerous unguided robots -- Cyclopean juggernauts armed with flamethrowers, catapults, spiked maces, and worse -- mindless automatons that shamble and crawl and roll in a random orgy of destruction . . . These horrifying inventions are set loose in parking lots to do battle with other . . . " Their site has plenty of video-clips and images of these creations in action. If this doesn't get a student interested in either engineering or performance art, check their pulse.

News: Manitoba

Manitoba Young Reader's Choice Award Luncheon

Students, teachers, and parents are invited to lunch and an autograph session with Manitoba Young Reader's Choice Award-winner Jeni Mayer, author of The Mystery of the Missing Will.

Saturday, February 17th, 1996. 11:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Malibu Banquet and Conference Center,
2077 Pembina Highway, Winnipeg.

Adults $12.00 / Students $6.00.

Sponsored by the Manitoba School Library Association.

I/We will attend the lunch with Jeni Mayer Feb. 17, 1996.

Deadline for Lunch is Feb. 9/96

Name:_________________________ Address:_______________________

Phone:______________(home) _________________(work)

Mail to:

Ms. Janet Guircio
MSLA P.D. Chairperson
115 Brock St.
Winnipeg, MB
R3N 0Y5
(or Via W.S.D. Courier to River Elm School)

Copyright © 1996 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

Book Reviews by Author
Book Reviews by Title
Audio/Video/CD-ROM Reviews by Title
Volume 2 Index