CM April 5, 1996. Vol II, Number 25

Table of Contents

Book Reviews

CDNTen Mondays for Lots of Boxes.
Sue Ann Alderson. Illustrated by Caddie T'Kenye.
Review by A. Edwardsson.
Preschool - Grade 3 / Ages 4 - 7.

CDNHer Story II:
Women from Canada's Past.
Susan E. Merritt.
Review by Catherine Cox.
Grades 5 - 10 / Ages 9 - 15.

CDNSointula -- Island Utopia.
Paula Wild.
Review by Joan Payzant.
Grades 10 and Up / Ages 15 to Adult.

CDNPoets in the Classroom.
Edited by Betsy Struthers and Sarah Klassen.
Review by Catherine Cox.

CD-ROM Review

CDNCanadisk '95.
Granit Technologies Inc.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Grades 5 - 13 / Ages 11 - 18.

Video Review

CDNCanada Remembers:
Vol. 1, Turning the Tide: 1939 to D-Day.
Vol. 2, The Liberators: D-Day to the Rhine.
Vol. 3, Endings and Beginnings: 1945.
Review by Ian Stewart.
Grades: 10 - 13 / Ages 14 - Adult.

Friends of CM

 National Film Board of Canada


 Notable Web Sites


 Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Awards Finalists

Book Review

Ten Mondays for Lots of Boxes.

Sue Ann Alderson. Illustrated by Caddie T'Kenye.
Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 1995. 32pp, paper, $6.95.
ISBN: 0-921870-32-9.

Preschool - Grade 3 / Ages 4 - 7.
Review by A. Edwardsson.



ON THE THIRD MONDAY, the first thing Lots of Boxes did after he moved was call up Easy as Pie. "We're still friends," said Lots of Boxes. "Now we're telephone friends." "Always will be," said Easy as Pie. Lots of Boxes felt better. Now all he needed was a face-to-face friend, one with the right sort of name.
He went for a walk on the beach near his house. He walked out to the edge of the crabbing dock. A girl was pulling in her crabtrap, hand-over-hand. Lots of Boxes helped her, hand-over-hand. At the bottom of the trap, two small brown crabs wrestled. "Want to toss one back?" asked the girl. She showed him how, behind the claws, to thumb-and-finger round the middle. They tossed them back together.
"What's your name?" asked Lots of Boxes. "Sky Climber," said the girl. It was the right sort of name . . . .
ON THE FIFTH MONDAY, Lots of Boxes made a Thronk from his blue playdough and some sticks. He set it on the lawn between the plum trees to see what it would catch.
A Wandering Blue-Eyed Glumfy came. He shied at the Thronk; he bellied up to the Thronk; he sniffed the Thronk all over.
Then the Glumfy wagged his tail and ever so gently picked the Thronk up in his mouth. Squashes galoshes! How that Wandering Blue-Eyed Glumfy did run CIRCLES on that lawn. He looked about to take off and FLY with that zesty Thronk held ever so gently in his mouth."

This children's book, the fourteenth by author Sue Ann Alderson (Ida and the Wool Smugglers), is a disappointment. The strange title refers to the story's format -- we follow young Lots of Boxes (self-named for his love of boxes) through ten Mondays' worth of moving and settling in a new neighbourhood.

The prose for this picture book does contain some wonderfully descriptive phrases, like -- "ON THE EIGHTH MONDAY, the sky grizzled and drizzled and the flowers that were already out drooped and shivered and wanted to go back in again." But some of the imagery rings false, as when the boy, wanting to cross the street, holds up his arm to stop oncoming buses: "The second row of Thundering Dunderblusses slowed and stopped, so did the third, until the whole herd was tame as penguins on an iceberg in mid-summer." (Are penguins particularily docile in summer?)

The contrived nicknames of the characters (listed on the first page under the heading "Cast of Characters"), are a turn-off that keeps readers at a distance. Still, there are some touching moments. Sky Climber plants and nurtures a strawberry bed, but one night the Glumfy/dog rolls in it, leaving the seedlings in shreds. Lots of Boxes help her replant and build a fence around the patch. They also dig up another patch of earth for the dog to enjoy.

The black-and-white pencil illustrations by Caddie T'Kenye are not appealing. The childrens' eyes have almost no whites, the pupils can't be distinguished, and in general, the iris and eyes are out of proportion to the rest of their features. Teeth often look dark and discolored. And Lots of Boxes is not "boyish" enough, and could be mistaken for a girl if the text didn't identify his gender.

Although the book contains some interesting imagery, it has a number of problems.

Not recommended.

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

Her Story II:
Women from Canada's Past.

Susan E. Merritt.
St. Catherine's, ON: Vanwell Publishing, 1995. 172pp, paper, $14.95.
ISBN: 1-55125-022-5.

Grades 5 - 10 / Ages 9 - 15.
Review by Catherine Cox.


Her Story: Women from Canada's Past, Susan Merritt's first book in this sequence, was named a Canadian Library Association Notable Book for 1993. Her Story II is a second collection of biographies of sixteen Canadian women born before or around 1900. Merritt chooses well-known heroines like Adelaide Hunter Hoodless, Dr. Maude Abbott, and Agnes Macphaill, along with less famous but regionally representative women like Catherine O'Hare Schubert, Margaret Duly, and Pitseolak.

The beautiful cover illustration is a reproduction of "A Meeting of School Trustees" (National Gallery of Canada). Illustrations in the book are black-and-white photographs, many of which are of historical significance. Sometimes they portray life as it was at the time, rather than the actual subject of the essay.

Written for young readers, one is at first surprised by the short sentences and simple descriptions used by the author. From the outside, it does not look like a children's book.

The point of view is definitely feminist. The author celebrates the heroism of pioneer women, but cannot resist taking potshots at the male medical fraternity that took childbirth out of the hands of midwives like Marie-Henriette Lejeune Ross. Merritt gives plenty of background in the course of her biographies (some of which are scarce of actual biographical material), which makes her book a work of history as well as a collection of life stories.

Highly readable.


Catherine Cox is a Teacher-Librarian at Moncton High School.

Book Review

Sointula -- Island Utopia.

Paula Wild.
Madeira Park, B.C.: Harbour Publishing, 1995. 223pp, cloth, $28.95.
ISBN: 1-55017-128-3. CIP.

Grades 10 and Up / Ages 15 to Adult.
Review by Joan Payzant.



After three days and nights of celebrating, exploring and bonfires on the beach, the settlers gathered to name the site of their utopia. "Sointula" (Harmony) was chosen over Makela's previous suggestion of "Kodiksi." Beckman proposed a colony flag featuring a white outline of Malcolm Island on a blue background. On the island would appear a golden "kantele," a small harp that holds a prominent place in the "Kalevala" and is a symbol of Finnish culture.
Inspired by the idea of Sointula, all who had come north on the Coquitlam spontaneously decided to remain. Since the two cabins were already full, tents were ordered to house the overflow. As the island had no post office, Makela agreed to return to Nanaimo where he would run the "Aika" (a newspaper) and process membership applications. The future seemed bright for the colonists; there was wood to build with, berries to eat and song birds everywhere. Halminen wrote later, "Everyone worked so hard, with this group it truly seemed possible that we could build a utopia."

This book is a history of the Finnish community of Sointula on Malcolm Island, which is situated in Queen Charlotte Strait between the mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Matti Kurikka, a Finnish Socialist and charismatic leader was appointed president of the Kalevan Kansa Colonisation Company Limited. Authorities in British Columbia, on behalf of the Crown, granted land on Malcolm Island to the Finnish company in November 1901.

Shortly before this, the group of Finns who had brought Kurikka to British Columbia had arranged for the establishment of a newspaper, the "Aika" (Time), which Kurikka operated. Through the paper, and in lecture tours, Kurikka spread the word to his readers of the plan for a commune on Malcolm Island. In spite of difficulties arranging for paid employment for prospective settlers, the colony eventually started. What follows is an intriguing story -- the initial enthusiasm of the settlers, the difficulties that they encountered, Kurikka's visionary schemes, and the accumulation of overwhelming debt. Kurikka solicited help from a friend in Finland, Austin Makela, a Marxist. He joined the Kalevan Kansa company, and later took over as President when Kurikka resigned after the colonists became disenchanted with him.

Sointula residents joined the Socialist Party of Canada in 1907, but split with the British leaders in 1911 because of differing aims. In 1912 the Finnish Socialist Organization of Canada (FSOC) formed. During the First World War, "Socialist" was dropped from the name because of governmental pressure, with the new name shortened to Finnish Organization of Canada. This, in turn allied with the Worker's Party of Canada, which was also renamed to form the Communist Party of Canada.

A large hall, the Finnish Organization Hall, served the community for political meetings, debates, and concerts. In spite of a fire in which eleven members of the community died, and constantly difficult finances, Sointula was a happy place by 1937. Its people were like one large family; no doors were ever locked, and recreational activities had been organized -- a band, drill teams for both women and men, a library, and dances every Saturday night. A Co-op store was also a social centre, a gathering place to exchange daily news.

Life on the island changed dramatically after World War II. Cars, radios, telephones, and alcohol brought the outside world to Sointula. Finnish was no longer the only language, though it was not until one teacher banned the use of Finnish inside the school that children learned English formally, according to government regulations.

The next change came when young Americans, draft dodgers from the Vietnam War, arrived on Malcolm Island. Their desire to "get back to the land" caused an upheaval in the lives of the Sointulans. It took adjustment on both sides for a new pattern of living to evolve, but today both the original Finns and newcomers respect each other. Although life will never be the same in Sointula, its residents still considered it a delightful home.

The author, Paula Wild, has done an excellent job of collecting material from many sources to write this history. It is generously illustrated with photos, has three appendices, a good bibliography of sources, and a comprehensive index.

Sointula will be especially useful in British Columbia libraries, but will interest anyone who is fascinated by utopian ideals, Canadian politics, Finnish immigration, or biographies of unusual leaders. This last category is well illustrated by Matti Kurikka and his Finnish contemporary Austin Makela.


Joan Payzant is a retired teacher/librarian living in Dartmouth, N.S.

Book Review

Poets in the Classroom.

Edited by Betsy Struthers and Sarah Klassen.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers, 1995. 128pp, paper, $12.95.
ISBN: 1-55138-055-1. CIP.

Review by Catherine Cox. ***/4

This is a book about how to teach poetry writing to young people. It is a collection of essays written by real poets like Ted Plantos, Fred Cogswell, and Robert Gibbs (to name only three). Each poet writes on particular strategies or poetic forms that interest them.

The book is in three parts. Part one, "In the Beginning," contains explanations of how the teacher can help transform children's enthusiasm for poetry into practical activities. Lola Sneyd describes the concrete poem; Ted Plantos shows how to recognize images; George Swede looks at Haiku. Part two, "Finding the Form," deals with traditional structures, picture poems, and free verse. Part three looks at "Ideas for Poems" and presents strategies for motivating students to write poetry. Richard Stevenson writes about the poetry workshop; Robert Gibbs writes about journalism; Sarah Klassen discusses models.

This is a little book full of great ideas. Each essay is short (for the busy teacher) but with a lot of meat that could be digested and expanded by creative teachers who take the time to look for new ideas.

The material could be for any grade level, from two to thirteen.


Catherine Cox is a Teacher-Librarian at Moncton High School.

CD-ROM Review

Canadisk '95

Granit Technologies Inc.
Distributed by Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1995. CD-ROM, $99.00.

Grades 5 - 13 / Ages 11 - 18.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.


Encyclopedias on CD-ROM are all the rage in schools these days. Kids want to use the new technology so much they are often surprised to find that there is more information the printed version of a publications. In response to this demand encyclopedias, almanacs, and every subject area are now presented on CD-ROM.

The way information is presented is crucial if the user to make the most use of it. Canadisk '95 is a collection of Canadian facts organized in too simplistic a manner to make it useful to most users.

Installation of the Canadisk was an experience in itself. Here's a suggestion the instructions don't tell you: for those with extra drives, keep typing "Fail" when your receive a message telling you that the computer cannot read the extra drives. Finally, it will read the drive in which the CD is installed. The Canadisk requires 640k memory, and responds fairly quickly.

The main screen is called The Control Room. This screen offers the user several choices: The Timeline, Census, Election, Election '84 and '88, and a Gallery. You enter key search words, and select Boolean search operators to narrow or expand the search. The number of matches is displayed, and matches can then be posted to a workbook or viewed immediately. Accessing a match provides a screen with the appropriate information listed by date, person, event, location (city, province, country), and key-word and reference sources.

But the information a search turns up is not presented in a complete sentences; it is curt and without a context or analysis. To obtain complete information on any topic it would be necessary to view many entries, from a few up to a few hundred. The information provided is superficial, and does not give the user a sense of the history of the event, or person being searched. It is annoying to see merely the date, name, event, and so on, listed on each match. And each match does not necessarily relate to the match previously viewed.

The justification for the short information bits is to prevent students from plagiarizing, to force them to turn the information into their own words. However, the effect is to rob the topic of its colour, its relation to people, other events, or the time in which it occurred. Adults might be able to supply the context themselves, but that is precisely what the students for whom Canadisk is intended do not have the resources to do. And history is a dry subject without context.

The Election and Elect '84 and '88 sections reveal similarly presented information. Every constituency in the country is listed, with the complete statistics on the votes received by each candidate. But any sense of the issues or the mood of the electorate is missing.

The brochure accompanying the Canadisk suggests searches for Pierre Trudeau, but the user quickly becomes bored typing in all the search words and Boolean commands, and accessing each individual match. Searching for information on Jacques Cartier proved to be similarly tiring. A more logical presentation of information would be to have articles on each topic. A search could then take the user to a specific part of an article, as it does on many CD-ROMs. Students must learn how to take notes themselves anyway. That is not an easy task, but it is an unavoidable lesson.

The Statistics button provides a wealth of census information. However, it too is presented in a stilted manner. In the list of categories it even lists the country being examined (one would hope it is Canada). Statistics are never too much fun to read, but could have been presented in a more interesting manner and related to the other topics in the Canadisk. Graphs with year to year comparisons would also have made it more relevant.

The Gallery is a collection of images gathered from numerous archives, museums, libraries and art galleries, and so on. Canadisk advises the user to write to the sources of each of these pictures to get a copy of any pictures needed (addresses are listed). It is not possible to print them (similarly, it is not possible to print from the Coats of Arms, Flags, or Flowers options). The pictures show the reality of Canada at different stages of history. A few more would have helped to complete the story. Winnipeg, for example, is shown in 1873, 1879, and 1893. Winnipeg did change rapidly during those years, but today's Winnipeg should have been depicted as well to inform the user of what the city is like. Montreal is shown in 1555, 1650, and 1967. You would expect a more recent picture from a modern publication such as Canadisk.

Documents can be sent to the Workbook, charts constructed and printed out, but posting each match is laborious. Teachers will have heart attacks watching students print out individual matches, each only ten or fifteen lines long, using reams and reams of paper.

Canadisk has much to offer, but users now expect information to be more easily accessible. The method used by Canadisk has generally been discarded by similar reference CD-ROMs in favour of the encyclopedia-type article with links to other topics. It is hard to imagine that students will spend much time using this CD-ROM when others are more user-friendly.

Canadisk is also available in French and its brochure states that annual subscriptions are available, as well as access to the Canadisk World Wide Web site.

Recommended with reservations.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.

Video Review

Canada Remembers:

Vol. 1Turning the Tide:1939 to D-Day.
Vol. 2The Liberators: D-Day to the Rhine.
Vol. 3Endings and Beginnings: 1945.
National Film Board of Canada, 1995.
3 hours (two 1/2 hour segments per volume), VHS, $49.95.
ISBN: 0-7722-064-2.

Grades: 10 - 13 / Ages 14 - Adult.
Review by Ian Stewart.


Canada Remembers is not a controversial documentary work. It stays well away from the morally questionable or otherwise flawed strategy of allied military planners. The devious political policy makers of Ottawa, Washington, London, and Moscow do not rate a mention. This film is about something more important than battles, politics, and economic policies. Canada Remembers concerns itself with the will, the worth, the adaptability, and the humanity of a nation's people.

With Canada Remembers, the National Film Board of Canada, in association with Veterans Affairs Canada, has produced a magnificent and moving tribute to the ordinary Canadian's contribution to the defeat of Nazi evil and to the building of a nation.

"We believed," said Farley Mowat, a young lieutenant in 1939, "that beyond all the propaganda there was a virulent evil to be stopped and we devoted ourselves to that cause." Canada's armed forces and those who "kept the home fires burning" recreated the nation through their incredible national effort.

Through the use of archival films and photographs, and first-person recollections of Canada's male and female veterans, merchant seamen, nurses, factory workers, farmers, and those who were children, the film's creators aim to connect young Canadians with the meaning World War II had, and continues to have, to a generation that will soon pass into history.

The volumes run chronologically through the six war years. Volume 1, Turning the Tide: 1939 to D-Day begins the story of Canada's transformation from a depressed rural nation to a modern, urban society with an industrial economy. It portrays those Canadians who fought and died in the Battle of Britain, and in battles in the North Atlantic, in Sicily, in Asia, and at Dieppe, and on convoy duty. Volume 2, The Liberators: D-Day to the Rhine continues the story of Canada's soldiers battling their way through France, Holland, and Belgium, and of the war effort at home that supported them. Volume 3, Endings and Beginnings tells the story of the war's end, and the social and economic effect the war had on the generation of men and women that lived through it. It provides a basis for further discussion on the "new" Canada of the post-war era.

Many men, whether they were farmers, small-town boys, or city-dwellers, joined the armed forces. Women's roles were transformed as they joined the auxiliary military services, learned to run the family farm, or entered the swelling industrial work force. But the films also show that Canada was not a perfect place.

The institutionalized racism of the 1940s is not ignored, nor is the overt sexual stereotyping Canadian women faced in the factory and the armed forces -- and at home, when the men returned from active duty. "Life," said a farm wife whose husband was in Europe, "ran on the radio news schedule; the safety of those overseas was always on our mind." Canada faced the grim reality of war, and war is an ugly thing. Its horrors are not glossed over in Canada Remembers. But the images of death and the veteran's emotional stories are honest and told with deserving dignity and nobility.

Canada Remembers ought to be used in schools. It is a valuable supplement to any Canadian or modern history program, and to Remembrance Day observations. The presentation of the dramatic material will hold students' interest and should produce a great deal of discussion. Each segment begins with a short review of the previous one's conclusion to aid classroom continuity. A teacher's resource guide, which includes background material, questions, and a short bibliography, is included with the collection. The bibliography is particularly well suited to high school and public library collections. The technical quality of the production is excellent.

Any social studies department or high school library that does not spend $49.95 to include Canada Remembers in its video collection does a disservice to its students and to the war-time generation.

Highly recommended.

Ian Stewart has an M.A. In history from the University of Manitoba, and has been variously employed as a bookstore manager, substitute teacher, teaching assistant, librarian, and bartender. He is currently working at a Winnipeg elementary school and the University of Winnipeg library.

Visit the National Film Board of Canada web site
for more information about these or other NFB videos.

Notable Web Sites

Every week, CM presents a brief collection of 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.<

Mir Space Station .html

"The Maximov Web site has launched a MIR Space Station page with great photos and a text detailing the history, design and current activities of the station by science writer Mark W. Curtiss."

Source: Ted Resnick, Online Communications Specialist, The Magellan Internet Directory

From the site itself:

"Mir is the culmination of the Russian space program's efforts to maintain long-duration human presence in space. The permanently manned space station regularly hosts 2 to 3 cosmonauts (on occasion up to 6 for shorter periods of up to a month). At present, Mir is a complex of different modules that have been through many mutations; modules get added and moved around, like a giant tinker toy in the sky"

Boy, it seems like a lot of space-program sites get reviewed here . . .

Canadian Teacher-Librarians' Resource Page

By and large we don't put sites that are devoted to listing other sites here (someone has to put some content on this Internet thing!), but Alan Brown's Resource Page is pretty handy. Sections on Associations, Authors and Illustrators, Awards, Booklists, Journals and Magazines, Newsgroups and Listservers, Publishers & Booksellers & Wholesalers, and Reviews, among others.

Go to Titles and Series, and you'll get links that include "The Page at Pooh Corner." Go to Reviews and you'll come to links like, well, gosh, us. Seems pretty well considered doesn't it?

Battlefields /btl/btlembark.html

An excellent school-produced site about the First World War:

"The pages include a record of our school trips to the Somme and to Flanders, with photographs and diaries by our students. There are extracts from the diary of an ex-pupil of the school who died in Flanders and letters about the war from Belgian pupils who we contacted by e-mail. A full itinerary of our visit is given and there are links to other WW1 sites around the world."

Marconi Celebration

No, not pasta; Marconi, the inventor. Historians often overlook Canada's role in important developments like basketball, the atomic bomb, annoying power-rock trios, and, of course, radio. This site commemorates Marconi's pioneering work on the latter in Cape Breton. Photographs, maps, schematics.

From the Ground Up

The From the Ground Up page from Green and Growing began as a teachers' lesson guide on food, agriculture, and sustainable development (reviewed in the last print edition of CM).

"This on-line version is divided into five lessons; The History of Agriculture and a Description of Sustainable Development; Soil; Agriculture and Chemicals; The Real Cost of Food; and Everything's Connected. It's accepted as curiculum by Manitoba and Alberta's departments of education."

It's not the prettiest site you'll see, and it but the lesson plans are thorough, detailed, and useful, even without the accompanying video. And, as they say, "Everything's Connected."



Finalists Announced for Prize in Children's Literature

Toronto, April 2, 1996 -- The finalists for the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award were announced today in Toronto. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award recognizes authors and illustrators who demonstrate artistic excellence in Canadian children's literature. The award is presented in two categories: young adult/middle reader books and picture books for children up to age ten.

This year there are five finalists in each category

The winning books will be selected by juries composed entirely of children from two local Toronto public schools. In the young adult/middle reader book category, the winning author will be awarded a $2,000 prize. In the picture book category, the author and illustrator of the book will share a $3,000 prize.

The winners will be announced by the Ontario Arts Council on May 25 at a special twentieth-anniversary event co-hosted by the Ontario Arts Council Foundation, The Ontario Arts Council and the Canadian Children's Book Centre at the Lillian H. Smith Branch, Toronto Public Library. The event will feature readings by past Ruth Schwartz winners -- who include some of Canada's best known writers for children. The prizes will be presented to the winners at this event.

The Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award was established in 1976 in honour of the late Ruth Schwartz, a respected Toronto bookseller. The administration of the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award is shared by the Ontario Arts Council Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council which selects the jury, and the Canadian Booksellers Association whose members select the short list of books.

The 1996 Finalists

For Young Adult/Middle Reader Books

For Picture Books

For additonal information about the award, please contact:

Jane Craig
OAC Communications Manager
(416) 969-7404 or toll free in Ontario at 1-800-387-0058

For additonal information about the May 25 event, please contact:

Jeffrey Canton
Program Coordinator
Canadian Children's Book Centre
(416) 975-0010

Duncan Thornton

Executive Assistant
Peter Tittenberger

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