Table of Contents
A People Apart.
Kathleen Kenna. Photographs by Andrew Stawicki.
Toronto: Somerville House, 1995. 64pp, cloth, $19.95.
Grades 3 - 8 / Ages 8 - 13.
Review by Deborah Mervold.
"Mennonites do not usually allow their pictures to be taken,
because they believe that pride is a sin. They do not have
family photograph albums or carry photographs of their
children. That would be considered showing off. Many of the
people in this book had never been photographed. Some had
never even spoken with anyone who was not a Mennonite,
because they believe that in order to preserve their
traditions, they should stay separate from people who are
not Mennonites. But as they came to trust us, members of
several Old Order congregations spoke about their lives and
welcomed us into their homes and meetinghouse. They agreed
to be photographed and to speak with us about their lives
because they want readers to understand how Mennonites
In A People Apart, the photographs of award-winning
photographer Andrew Stawicki -- incredible in their own
right -- complement journalist and reporter Kathleen Kenna's
well-written account of the lives of "Old Order" Mennonites.
Kenna's short, simple sentences, and carefully chosen
vocabulary make this an excellent non-fiction choice for the
study of families in primary grades or of culture in middle
grades. Adults will also enjoy both the information and the
As the excerpt above explains, the book was created with the
cooperation of the Mennonites in Elmira and Saint Jacob's,
Ontario. The project is unusual because of the Mennonite
feeling that they are a "people apart" from modern society.
Kenna covers many important aspects in the life of the
Mennonite community from barn-raising to religious services
and education. A brief historical note is included putting
the community into a Canadian and world context.
A People Apart examines the whole life of the
behaviour, customs, and traditions. The use of
excommunication to discipline of family members completes
this realistic account of an Old Order Mennonite
community. This book would be a welcome addition to any
school, public, or home library.
Deborah Mervold teaches senior high-school English and works as a K-12
teacher-librarian. She lives in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan and is also
of the local public Library board.
Breathing Not Required.
Michele Martin Bossley.
Toronto: James Lorimer & Company ("Sports" series), 1995. 84pp, paper,
ISBN 1-55028-474-6. CIP.
Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Donna J. Adrian.
A fun, fact-filled novel of synchronized swimming,
friendship, jealousy, and family relations.
In losing her bid to become the team's solo performer in
competition to newcomer Christy, whom she dislikes, eleven-year-old
Gracie's competitive spirit spoils her relationship
with her best friend and duo partner, Laura, who wants to
swim only for fun. While preparing for a competition, and in
the classroom, the three girls' relationships and problems
are typically teen; and they are satisfactorily resolved during a
A good read. The plot moves quickly. The action at the pool, at
home, and at school is believable, as are the relationships
among the three girls.
The novel shows the need for discipline, endurance, good
sportsmanship, and the importance of team work and
cooperation for success in athletic endeavour.
A good sports novel for girls, and with the Summer Olympics
approaching it should be popular.
Donna J. Adrian is a Library Coordinator for the Laurenval School
Board in Quebec.
50 Flying, Floating, Flipping, Spinning
Gadgets Kids Create Themselves.
Toronto: John Wiley and Sons, 1995. 115pp, paper, $18.50.
Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.
We often take water for granted. We usually have it in a
plentiful supply. We drink it, cook with it, water our lawns
and gardens with it, and complain about it during droughts
and floods. But water has other uses as well. It can power a
rocket, tell time, and even generate electricity. Do you find
that hard to believe? Try the following projects and see what
water can do.
This nifty and appealing book should attract and engage
children, parents, and teachers. Wiese, a science educator
in British Columbia, explains in his introduction how you
can be a good scientist, and how to use the book to do a
science project. He also mentions that adult help is needed
for many of the experiments (something also noted in the
Rocket Science is divided into sections -- mechanics,
power, water power, electricity and magnetism, chemistry,
acoustics, and optics. The projects are fun. They include a
flip book, a periscope, a natural battery from a lemon, a
waterwheel, and a mousetrap car. Each project clearly
explains the pertinent scientific principle. The book is
illustrated with perky black-and-white drawings and includes
a glossary and index.
A useful and very appealing title.
Lorraine Douglas is Youth Services Coordinator for the
Winnipeg Public Library.
Modems, Megabytes & Me!
Telecommunicating Across the
Gary Garfield and Suzanne McDonough.
Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1995. 144pp, paper, $16.00.
Teachers: K - 8.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
How far have we traveled since the days of the little red
schoolhouse? Although rapid population growth spurred the
expansion of schools from one route multi-graded classrooms
to today's mega school districts, we wonder: How much has
really changed? . . . With a computer, telephone and modem
you can give the child access to the world. Anywhere a
telephone and computer exist together is a potential source
for information and learning . . . an idea and practice that
will forever change the way you think about, and teach
children to think about, learning. This reality will also
require all teachers to think differently about how they
teach and how children learn. This knowledge by itself has
the potential to change the basic premise and foundation of
We are know teachers who are crazy about computers and use
them as much as possible in their classroom routine. We also
know teachers who don't want to have anything to do with
technology and ignore its potential for themselves as
teachers and for their students. But teachers need not be
afraid of learning, nor should they be afraid that, at least
initially, students may know more than the teachers about
telecommunicating. This book gives reluctant teachers gentle
guidelines for jumping into the fray.
Teachers who are terrified of technology can read Modems,
Megabytes and Me! and realize that technology need be
neither terrifying nor separate from daily classroom
activities. It is a step-by-step and reader-friendly book
that outlines why teachers should get connected, how to
connect (including the basic definitions), and provides more
than seventy pages of theme-related activities that fit in
with the classroom curriculum from kindergarten to grade
Chapter two explains what a teacher needs to set up a basic
computer centre in a classroom. It suggests sources of
financial support from the school and the community -- an
important element in education today. It also mentions some
different software packages available to go on line, and
where to find them. The instructions for setting up software
are very specific, and should give teachers new to
telecommunicating some confidence. The conclusion of the
book offers some case studies of students who benefitted from using
The themes suggested are aimed at specific grade levels.
They are set up as lesson plans, with objectives, related
topics, preparation, and procedure and activities. The
activities range from researching cookie recipes, collecting
jokes, chatting on-line with CEOs of corporations,
collecting scientific information from NASA and graphing it,
getting answers directly from scientists, to doing
genealogical researchn and so on.
There is nothing special in the activities outlined in the
book. But each theme has a suggested telecommunications
activity that combined with conventional teaching practices
to the greater store of knowledge and resources for
students. The authors assert that using telecommunications
is an essential part of educating a child in today's world,
and that teachers are obligated to become familiar with
telecommunicating practices and make them a part of their
teaching routine. Children must learn to use the resources
offered through computers and modems and whatever else is
the next development of telecommunications in order to be
able to function capably and confidently.
Modems, Megabytes and Me! is a book that has up-to-date
information about computers and telecommunications. Some of
it may become dated as new advances in technology are
introduced. But the ideas for themes and activities will be
useful by themselves and as springboards for a teacher's own
ideas for a long time.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.
The Ecstasy of Resistance:
A Biography of George
Toronto: ECW Press, 1995. 336pp, paper,
Grades 11 and Up / Ages 15 and Up.
Review by Joanne Peters.
** 1/2 /4
He has remained in
popular assessment variously a warrior, troublemaker, poet,
"political" writer. As a subject for criticism, he has
invited either a rapid dismissal or a pat summation, both
far short of the complexity of the man. He has been
discussed as artlessly political, or alternately, poetically
undramatic. I believe that in Ryga we have a writer of major
significance, in part due to sheer output; about two dozen
of his works are still in print, including two recent
anthologies, The Athabasca Ryga and
Summerland, which contain many of his lesser
known and previously unpublished works. He may or may not be
a great writer -- Ryga's corpus is especially unwieldy; he
may or may not be, as some have suggested, a "one-play"
playwright. He is, however, indisputably an important
Mention the name "George Ryga," and immediately the plays
Indian and The Ecstasy of Rita
Joe come to mind. Ryga is best known for these two
works that; indeed, they are often the only works associated
with his career as writer. In fact, Ryga wrote in a variety
of genres, although it was through drama that he gained
renown. James Hoffman has extensively and exhaustively
researched his subject; letters and personal interviews with
former colleagues, family members, and Ryga himself form the
basis of this comprehensive review of Ryga's life and work.
The son of Ukrainian immigrants, Ryga was often
ambivalent towards his heritage: drawn to life on the land,
yet hating the harshness of that existence. He lacked
extensive formal training as a writer, and gained his
knowledge of the craft through a variety of jobs, some of
which enabled him to hone his talent, and some of which
served to constrain it. Although the title of Hoffman's book
suggests Ryga was a passionate individual, somehow that
emotionality is lost in the telling of his story.
The Ecstasy of Resistance is
undeniably comprehensive, but in that thoroughness, some of
the fire that fuelled Ryga burns out. Though the book is an
excellent source of information about Ryga and his work,
it often reads slowly and the expectation of intensity
created by the title is lost in details.
Recommended for secondary school and university
collections, especially those focusing on Canadian
Joanne Peters is a Teacher-Librarian at
Kelvin High School in Winnipeg.
Multimedia Cats: The Complete Interactive Guide to
Boulder, CO: Inroads Interactive, 1995. CD-ROM (PC and Mac), $24.95
256-Colour monitor and 486 / 040 CPU recommended.
Grades 2 - 6 / Ages 6 - 10.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.
One should not be fooled by the seemingly diminutive size of the Serval.
Its narrow frame and long legs give the appearance of a small body, but
this animal maintains the survival skills and feline instincts of its
larger (and better known) wild cat cousins. Able to run, climb and swim,
Servals also employ excellent sight and hearing to hunt for food during
any part of the day or night.
They prefer solitary and hidden lives, rarely seen by humans or other
animals. They live in enclosed spaces, such as rock crevices, old burrows
or among long thick grass. Hunted for their exotic fur, Servals have
moved into sparsely populated regions for protection.
Multimedia Cats sounds like one of those no-fail titles
publishers joke about (like, "Finding Your Diet Angels"). But of course
it's really a CD-ROM aimed at elementary-age children. The content is
nothing special, but Multimedia Cats works smoothly while
managing to be informative and entertaining.
Children who just like cats, or wish they had one, will like the
sections on domestic and wild cats. The information is not too detailed
(the excerpt above is the complete section on Servals, for instance), but
it compares well to introductory picture books. There are links to larger
pictures, brief video-clips, and more detailed information -- "Feral
Facts" for wild-cats, which include the latin name, the conservation
status, and a "Fascinating Fact"; or "Ideal Breed Characteristics" for
Younger children will appreciate the "Loudspeaker" icon on these
pages linked to an audio clip of the text read aloud (a male voice for
wildcats, a female for domestic). In the longer and more detailed
information -- on Feline evolution, for example -- in the sixty-four page
reference section, there is no loudspeaker, but there is also good basic
advice on selecting and caring for cats (that it's a good idea to have
two cats to keep one another company if they're going to spend
much time alone, for example), on cat illnesses and caring for your
cat's health, and so on. There are also short, narrated videos on
adopting, grooming, and training cats in the reference section.
The "Cat-Scan" section provides a computerized way of selecting
ideal breed of cat for prospective owners (based on factors like
temperament, short or
long hair, and affinity for children). The "World" section lets
you locate breeds or species by geographical origin.
There is also a "Fun" page that includes quizzes and
entertaining video clips of
cats (kittens chasing their tales; cats morphing into one another) which
also ought to amuse
Throughout, the CD-ROM keeps a sense of fun; there are plenty of
puns, and there is a little mouse named Herman who shows up in unexpected
places. Clicking on him triggers some odd or humorous result.
Multimedia Cats is a decidely American
product; in the contacts for adopting a cat, for example, only U.S.
organizations are listed. That aside, if Multimedia Cats is
un-ambitious, it is also successful -- it's an accessible and pleasant
title that will entertain young cat-lovers and provide some basic
information for those a little older.
Diane Fitzgerald is an elementary-school teacher in Saskatoon.
Apple Home Learning.
Claris Canada, 1995. CD-ROM, $49.00.
Grades 5 - 8 / Ages 10-12.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
CD-ROMs are the wave of the future, we're told, and
information is being formatted on compact disk at a
fantastic rate. It's being presented in user-friendly
formats, with several different ways of finding information,
links back and forth, titbits of explanations, pictures and
captions, quizzes and games, just to mention a few. Some of
these CD's are for school use, and some are informational,
but are more suited for recreational (home) use.
Earth Explorer is a highly informative and interactive
CD-ROM published by Apple, respected for quality educational
software. A 256-colour monitor is necessary. For a Mac
you'll also need at least five megs of RAM; for Windows, a
486 system or better is recommended (it will run more slowly
on a 386) and at least four megs of RAM (eight is
The CD explores the environment, with articles, "hot
topics," maps, data, games and quizzes. Each topic leads to
further subtopics. The buttons that lead into the
information are described as well as illustratedwith
appealing drawings that relate to the topic of the
environment and are age-appropriate.
The user chooses the topic, and begins to explore the
different issues and problems facing the earth. The articles
(choose from climate, sun, wind, climate change, water,
oceans, land, micro-climate, or explore) are accompanied
with pictures and links on the right sidebar. The articles
provide extensive information, often over twenty screens in
length. Each screen is presented as a page torn from a
book. Significant words are underlined; clicking on them
brings up a definition. The File menu allows the user to
print the screen or print the article, and the option of
including the photos. The writing style is casual and
conversational. Here's an example:
Here's a challenge for you.
The "Hot Topics" provides eighteen different subtopics for
the user. Each button leads to a game. The games are talking
stories, in which the user must match different sides of an
environmental issue with the sixteen different personalities
presented. The goal is to match the personalities with the
strongest views on each side of the argument to score the
highest number of points. Each personality reveals their
views before players attempt to match them to either side of
the argument. A click on the score button tells the user
what to do to improve it, and users can go back and continue
working on the same game.
Think of something that runs on
solar energy. Piece of cake, you might say, and you start
naming items that use the sun as their energy source.
There's the calculator on your desktop, and the small
electric fan you saw in a specialty store. There's the house
down the street that heats water with solar energy, those
experimental cares they race every three years in Australia
. . . and what about earth-orbiting satellites?
The Data Sets includes eighteen subtopics, with maps and
graphs on each. Explanatory text boxes appear at the bottom
of the screen that complement the variety of graphs offered
on the right of the map. Click at an area on the map and the
appropriate information appears in the text box.
Instructions appear for interpreting the graph and for
retrieving further information.
The Explore menu offers twelve subtopics that are
informational games/quizzes. One is called "Who Eats Who,"
and asks the user to organize different aquatic animals
according to their order on the food chain. Again, the user
can check the score and go back to get things right.
Information about the different animals is provided. The
numbers 1, 2 and 3 decorate the left side-bar. Clicking on
the different numbers gives instructions (1), hints on what
to notice in the game (2) and the conclusions that can be
drawn from the investigation (3).
This CD-ROM is full of interesting information about the
issues facing the earth's survival and about the different
arguments surrounding these issues, and presents scientific
information valuable for the intended age-group. Earth
Explorer is not appropriate, however, for a school library
reference, because as a reference tool it is slower than
comparable disk-based encyclopedias. But it would be
suitable as a supplement to reference material within the
classroom, especially if the class is studying a unit on
pollution, the ecology, and so forth. Earth Explorer is also
an appropriate educational resource for the home. Parents
looking for educational material for young children can
trust that Apple will provide them with value for their
The problems with this CD-ROM are the same problems that
exist for education CD-ROMs in general. The more complex
they are the slower they are, and the wait is boring, not
exciting. It's faster to turn a few pages, browse through an
index, and look at some pictures on a book -- and flipping
through a book is actually a more "interactive" experience,
since one can stop and read at any page. The delay in
finding information may cause a child to give up and go
Are children using the educational home software as fast as
it is being produced? Probably not, despite their parents'
best wishes. After the novelty has worn off, it will be used
when it is needed. When it is, Earth Explorer is a useful CD
for intermediate age children.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.
Every week, CM presents a brief collection of noteworthy,
useful, or just interesting sites we've turned up and actually
Please send us URLs and evaluations of any web-sites
you think deserve the exposure.
- Drew's Scripts-O-Rama
- It can be hard to study film critically because you can't
slow it down -- unless you have the script. This site has links to a fair number of
interesting or impressive movie scripts, from The Little
Mermaid to The Rocky Horror Picture show. There's enough
adult material you won't want to just point your
students at it, but there are valuable resources for senior
students studying media or film.
- Voice of Hibakusha
- "Eye-witness accounts of the bombing of Hiroshima, from the video
HIROSHIMA WITNESS produced by Hiroshima Peace Cultural Center and NHK."
Those of us who were in University in the 80s remember how likely it seemed that
the world would end this way. If that shadow has receded, it's still important
to hear what the people of Hiroshima passed through.
- The Mary Rose Virtual Maritime Museum
- The Mary Rose was a Tudor warship built on orders from Henry VIII.
Sadly for her crew, but happily for historians and archeologists, she sank accidentally
-- to be recovered in the 20th century. This site does not use a dopey map metaphor, but
tells the story of the Mary Rose and her recovery, and links you to appropriate images
and sub-topics as they arise.
- The Great Globe Gallery on the World Wide Web
- When I was a kid, we reduced our teacher to tears once
by putting our pencils against the globe making it spin it really fast.
This fancy, and therefore slow, site from Poland
does not offer that particular avenue of pleasure, but it has hundreds
of different views of the Earth -- climatic, geologic, and of course, the
famous NASA picture from space that some claim has changed the way we think.
- Distinguished Women of Past and Present
- "This site has biographies of women who contributed to our culture in many
different ways. There are writers, educators, scientists, heads of state,
politicians, civil rights crusaders, artists, entertainers and others. Some were
alive hundreds of years ago and some are living today. I'd like to acknowledge
as many as I can."
How did it do on "Canadian stuff the editor knows about test?" well, nothing on Sheila Copps,
Nellie McClung, or Margaret Atwood, but go to Lucy Maud Montgomery and you can find out quite a
bit about P.E.I...
The Beginners Digital Electronics Site
Authorized by Industry Canada through the Schoolnet
Call For Participation
This is a call for people around the world to contribute to the creation of a web site designed to help students learn the basics of digital electronics. It is hoped that these pages will be the work of a variety of groups and individuals from many parts of the globe. The process of developing the site is meant to promote the peaceful view that together we are stronger.
The site is to contain at least the topics listed below. Ideas concerning how to present these topics, as well as suggestions for additional topics, are invited. People are also invited to develop actual content for the site. For example, students of one school might develop a section on the binary number system, pages on the creation of a half adder, or a set of career or industry links. Each of these might be done by one school or in conjunction with other schools.
Students in a grade 10 computer science course at Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School in Gloucester, Ontario, are positioned to produce alone the contents for the digital electronics site. The project, however, has the potential to be of far greater value to themselves and others if they are primarily the coordinating body for it, so if you are in a position to participate, please consider joining in.
To avoid duplication of efforts, please contact us before investing much time and energy to insure that your ideas are not already being developed by others. Kindly put Digital Project as the subject of all communications.
The content is expected to include the following, but is likely to expand and undergo modifications with the suggestions and contributions of new participants in the project.
- Number systems: A look at the history of numbers, numbers of different bases, converting between number systems, how binary and hexidecimal number systems have been used in programming computers, and how to do operations with binary numbers.
- Boolean logic: The consideration of electronic gates, truth tables, Boolean expression, and Karnaugh maps.
- Electronic components: The presentation of the simple circuit, pictures, diagrams and explanations of resistors, diodes, capacitors, transistors, LEDs, integrated circuits, and breadboards.
- Circuit wiring: The development of a variety of experiments that explore the properties of resistors, diodes, 7-segment LEDs, gates, and then more advanced circuits including half and full adders, clocks, flip-flops, and binary to decimal decoders. Special projects involving practical applications might be included here.
- Career Links: Links to the home pages of people who have careers in digital electronics.
- Digital Links: Links to the sites of companies involved in digital electronics as well as to other sites where students can learn about the topic.
- The community of contributors: A section on the people who helped to create the site including links to their home pages, school home pages, and institution home pages.
Dates: February 5, 1996 - May 31, 1996.
Contact: Richard Fransham: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Digital Project
Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School
2072 Jasmine Crescent
Gloucester, Ontario, K1J 8M5
Telephone: 613-741-4525 . . . .
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
The Manitoba Library Association
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