From the EditorAs you know, if you read the fine print at the bottom of our pages, CM is published by the Manitoba Library Association. Now you might think that putting out an award-winning electronic journal, and paying our salaries, would be enough to justify the existence of any organization. But in fact, the MLA's responsibilities are legion.
Note that after a gap of a few issues due to technical difficulties, the Great Canadian Trivia Contest is back this week. My apologies for any other deficiencies in the magazine in the last couple of weeks -- Peter has been on a well-deserved vacation in a thoroughly undeserved warm part of France. (Meanwhile, Winnipeg has broken the record for consecutive days with snow on the ground, and as I write this my yard is covered with 6" of new white stuff.)
As always, please send any comments to the address beneath my name.
-- Duncan Thornton
Joe McLellan. Illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson.
Winnipeg: Pemmican, 1995. Unpaginated, paper, 9.95.
Kindergarten to Grade 3 / Ages 4 - 8.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.
Nokomis took us back to her house for tea and bannock.
"So, how did your accident happen, my grandson?" asked Nokomis.
"I was pretending to be an eagle, and when I stood up on the branch it broke."
Nokomis smiled. "That reminds me of a time when Nanabosho pretended to be a bird. . . ."
THIS IS THE SIXTH book in the very popular "Nanabosho" series. It follows the same structure as the earlier books: an elder tells a traditional story to a contemporary child.
In this story, young Billy tries to climb a tree and fly like an eagle, but ends up flat on the ground. When he tells Nokomis about this, she tells him the story of how Nanabosho once tried to act like a woodpecker.
Nanabosho carved a big beak from wood, tied it to his head, and slammed it into a tree to try to get food. All he ends up with is an aching red bulb of a nose. Young listeners can enjoy this funny story, and it can easily be read to a group.
In Nanabosho and the Woodpecker, the illustrations differ in style from Rhian Brynjolson's previous titles in the series -- Nanabosho Dances (1991); Nanabosho, Soaring Eagle and the Great Sturgeon (1993); and Nanabosho: How the Turtle Got its Shell (1994). Here the pictures are more cartoon-like -- less realistic and intricate than the delicate watercolours of Nanabosho Dances, for example. But they remain very appealing.
Recommended for native studies and library collections.
Lorraine Douglas is Youth Services Coordinator for the Winnipeg Public Library.
Andrea Helman. Photographs by Art Wolfe.
Seattle, Washington: Sasquatch Books, 1995. 32pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN: 1-57061-038-X. CIP.
Preschool - Grade 3 / Ages 3 - 8.
Review by Carol Carver.
- A is for auklet.
- The little auklet is a skillful swimmer. It dives into cold North Coast Water, propelling itself forward with narrow wings and steering with its feet.
- B is for bear.
- A tiny black bear cub is born without teeth or fur, but it grows up to be a powerful adult. Each autumn, bears eat and eat so they can sleep through the long winter.
- C is for coyote.
- Coyotes live an hunt together in family groups called packs. At night, they often howl together in a beautiful chorus. . . .
THIS BEAUTIFUL alphabet book is about a specific area: the Pacific Northwest, comprising Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. The pictures are by the Seattle-based photographer Art Wolfe, acclaimed for his images of nature and wildlife. Wolfe has previously published fourteen books, including two for children. The text, by Andrea Helman, plays a less obvious, but meaningful role in the book. Helman is a published journalist; this is her first children's book.
The subjects, all found in the coastal Northwest, are mainly animals, but also include plants (for example, xerophyllum tenax, which is bear grass), people (the Yakamo), places (Mount Rainier), and objects (Haida totem poles). The author and photographer have fulfilled the goal of teaching the alphabet by highlighting the natural world of the region well.
Wolfe's photographs, many of them close-ups, are striking for their lushness, clarity, and colour. For example, the sea stars in the tide pool have amazing hues; the reader wants to be there.
Helman's writing adds further information, some of it obscure but interesting. For example, natives used the course blades of the bear grass to weave baskets that could hold and carry water. The only place the book's U.S. origin is evident is in the facts about the eagle -- which uses miles rather than kilometres, and spells "favourite" without a "U."
Large block letters on each page and borders around many of the photographs add colour. The alphabet also subtly decorates the end-papers.
This impressive book is perfect for reading aloud, reviewing the alphabet, doing secondary research, or just plain browsing. O Is for Orca is also guaranteed to make prairie dwellers yearn for the West Coast.
Carol Carver is a Primary Teacher at École Dieppe School in Winnipeg.
Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic, 1996. 110pp, paper, $4.50.
Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.
Justin moped around the house all weekend. The laughter of the other groups still rang in his ears. Kindergarten field day had been the icing on the cake of disaster. And Tidal Wave Water Park was now totally out of reach.
He tried telephoning his partners.
Margaret was bitter. "How dare you call me Justin Zeckendorf after what you did you humiliated us in front of the whole town I can never show my face again!" And she hung up.
Jessica was more to the point. "Drop dead, creep!"
JUSTIN WANTS his team to win the "Good Deed Contest." The grand prize is a trip to Tidal Wave Water Park. But his goofy ideas cause his team, the Z's, to score negative points.
The Z's inadvertently leave a lady's suitcase in the middle of the road and her underwear is blown all over town. Then the Z's make copies of a raffle ticket to raise money for a worthy cause and sixty-one people end up eligible for the big prize. Later, the team tries to score with washing windows, but they end up flooding a house. . . .
But the Z's are also on the trail of a ring of car thieves, and they ultimately succeed in their mission. Antics abound in this humorous and appealing novel, bound to appeal to Korman fans.
The short chapters and fast pace of jokes make it a good read-aloud for a class. Recently nominated for the Manitoba Young Reader's Choice Award.
Lorraine Douglas is Youth Services Coordinator for the Winnipeg Public Library.
Gibsons, BC: Nightwood Editions, 1995. 80pp, paper, $9.95.
Grades 10 and Up / Ages 14 to Adult.
Review by William F. Benson.
I have not met a man
so strong as the snake
who grabbed my ankles
and wrestled me to the ground.
No, not even you, Jacob.
If in that night,
I had a branch,
I would have chased it off.
But the enormity of it,
the promise of its poison!
At long last,
the liberating of my thighs
to the cry of birth.
Forgive me, dear Jacob, forgive me
but I too have wrestled,
with this monster
SALLY ITO'S POETRY tantalizes, transfixes, and torments the reader. Her powerful control of images is like the work of a pointillist, where very little can evoke energy, emotion, and eroticism. Ito is a mirrored mosaic, a master at reflecting so many different aspects that she initially overloads a reader -- but then draws them back again and again to look deeper and deeper in to the poetry, and into themselves.
Ito's poems reflect not only her Japanese-Canadian culture, but also her experience in the diverse locations where she has lived and worked. This is Sally Ito at her best as she uses images to bring not only a scene, but the emotions it contains, to life:
CHINESE OLDTIMERWhen Ito ventures into an area obviously outside the experience of many of her readers, she very carefully provides footnotes to explain what she is talking about. This is particularly important in writing about Inuit legends such as "Sedna," or when she is writing to famous scientists, as in "Pangea" and "Mendeleev."
He sat solitary
amidst a circle of boxes,
bound and rebound in twined string,
sides scribbled with faded Chinese characters
promising canned oranges, lotus root
and pickled ginger.
A circle of clucking relatives
moved around him
"Time for Grandfather to move."
-- move to the next grudging
son in Calgary.
The train whistled its last call.
Ito's feminism is strong throughout, as she writes of her growth from child to woman to mother; a glimpse of all three stages comes in her poem "Sonata for Three Sleeping Woman."
Her celebration of feminism is among the few ties that bind this collection together. Ito seems to be experimenting with a wide range of styles, from those that leave out vowels to those that play with the placement of words -- to some that reach levels of obscurity that leave the reader wondering and speculating. It feels like she is searching not only for her voice, but for herself; as though she were trying to tie the diverse stages and experiences of her life together. It is almost as if she has not yet accepted and melded her many aspects into one.
In Frogs in the Rain Barrel, Ito seems to share her struggles towards maturity in both her poetry and her life. In those struggles we can find elements of our own. And the very foreignness of some of her images forces us to step back and rethink how we see the world and our lives.
William F. Benson is a school psychologist in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
London, ON: Brick Books, 1995. 62pp, paper, $11.95.
Grades 11 and Up / Ages 15 - Adult.
Review by Maryleah Otto.
Shadow LakeDarkness. The lake
with its language of swallowed things
Sick with distance, they
as if following a shoreline
They rise from the centre
The air is rich with unfinishedness
Things want to be free
without having to be lost
THE FORTY-ONE POEMS in Brian Henderson's Year Zero are concerned with the mysteries of life and death, specifically of dying and being born. The poet draws on the experiences of losing family members and close friends, and later, of the birth of his children, to create this work, his eighth collection of poetry.
There is a sculpted, perhaps carved, quality about these poems; they have three-dimensional form that makes them seem more like charming figurines than words on a page.
Henderson's pain when faced with so much grief is startlingly convincing, as is his awe at the birth of a baby. The imagery is often surprising, always exacting. The emotions are raw, powerful, devoid of all sentimentality.
But I have two misgivings about these poems. First, they are frequently obscure. Second, Henderson's free verse sometimes seems to slide into actual prose -- as in these lines, which are laid out as such:
Flung out. I can't really imagine that final flungoutwardness. The Chinese elm spends itself in a storm of seeds that the steep noon sun seems to make clatter with light. You are spilled. Released.Prose or poetry? Perhaps it's time for a new definition.
Still, this title may interest teachers of English in college or senior secondary schools.
Recommended with reservations.
Maryleah Otto is a writer and former children's librarian in Toronto. She has had four books for children published since 1985.
Tudor O. Bompa. Illustrations by Gineta Stoenescu.
Gloucester, ON: The Coaching Association of Canada, 1994. 166pp, paper, $18.95.
Review by William F. Benson.
The key to improvement in athletic performance is a well-organized system of training. A training program must follow the concept of periodization, be well-planned and structured, and be sport specific, so as to cause the athlete's energy systems to adapt to the particular requirements of the sport.
Also known as reactive training, the stretching-shortening cycle, or myotatic stretch reflex, the exercises known popularly as plyometrics are those in which the muscle is loaded in an eccentric (lengthening) contraction, immediately followed by a concentric (shortening) contraction.
By following a training regimen of specific exercises which emphasize explosive-reactive power, the potential of the stretching-shortening cycle can be increased.
TUDOR BOMPA appears to be a knowledgeable, experienced coach; in Power Training for Sport, he has attempted to quantify and explain how coaches of all levels can use plyometrics to help individual athletes improve in a wide variety of sports. Plyometrics do not replace regular training methods, but are rather an adjunct to improve the "explosive, reactive power." Bompa has a background in European coaching, and he offers interesting insights into the differences between North American and European training without being judgemental about either system.
This is a well laid-out book, with a Table of Contents, Index, Glossary of Terms, and even a Reference section. Power Training for Sport is clearly divided into specific units that review energy systems used, training principles, methodologies, and planning. The book even separates the plyometric exercises themselves into groups based on the section of the body involved or the skills they are meant to develop.
Bompa's review of how plyometrics works goes down to the cellular level to explain the different energy systems and to caution against over-use. He points out that while some levels of plyometrics training, such as skipping, can be used at any age, others, such as shock tension and drop jumps, should only be used with well-conditioned older athletes.
Bompa also stresses throughout the importance of following a complete coaching plan. In this book he supplies the framework through concrete suggestions that will help any coach in any sport to develop a year-round, safe, and systematic training program for their athletes.
Power Training for Sport supplies information meant to assist experienced, rather than beginning-level coaches. And as it is designed to be a generic book on coaching, with an emphasis on plyometrics, it lacks the specificity top level athletes need for training. Bompa also cautions that plyometrics is better suited to some sports than others.
Bompa provides a thorough section on plyometric exercise with norms, both Canadian and European, with which to compare your athletes' results. Unfortunately, the norms are eight to ten years out of date, and the Canadian norms are given only in imperial measurements -- an oversight in a work that otherwise gives both imperial and metric measures throughout.
Tudor Bompa's well-written book outlines the reasons for adding plyometrics to a coach's training plans. His cautions, focus on safety, encouragement of variety and fun, and emphasis on a total plan with a clear goal make this a worthwhile title for coaches not only in Canada, but around the world.
William F. Benson is a school psychologist and triathlon coach in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
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.
Also has a good "Street Smart on the Web" button that takes you to a page offering parents and children good advice about keeping the Web a safe place to visit.
discussion and debate among engineers and scientists. Was space flight feasible, or was it just a romantic adventurous dream? Were there economic benefits to be gained? Was it worth the money? While theorists argued about the possibility of rockets and spacecraft traveling to the Moon and planets, Bonestell showed what it would look like when we got there!Bonestall's images are still the closest most of us can get to outer space.
Warning: it's so popular it's hard to get to the good stuff, probably because a lot of people found out about it the same time I did. Give it a few weeks though. Has an excellent (and educational) section on kids and STOMP, with detailed activities so you can get your own students banging things together (and thus starting on the long road towards civilization).
From Thursday, May 9 to Saturday, May 11, the Manitoba Library and Information Associations Annual Conference is being held at the Ramada Marlborough Hotel in Winnipeg.
The theme of this annual conference, aimed at library professionals and information providers, is "Libraries: Gateways to Many Worlds." Speakers will address a wide range of topics. Keynote speaker Kaycee Hale, an internationally respected lecturer for civic, social, and professional groups, will discuss communication and management skills. Friday's program also features Srinija Srinivasan, the head of design and maintenance of the world's most intuitive and efficient World Wide Web site, YAHOO!
Sessions that may be of special interest to CM readers are highlighted below.
Please visit the conference web-site at http://www.mbnet.mb.ca/mla for a complete listing of the program, or contact the MLA Office at (204) 943-4567 for more information..
Censorship from the author's perspective -- how can it influence writers to reconsider their work in light of possible future censorship issues, as well as how concerned individuals and writers can work together to keep quality literature from being attacked. This session will also ask the question: If Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit can be censored, is it even possible to write a "censorproof" book for children?
For the third year L.C.V.I. in Lindsay, Ontario is hosting the "Our Town" National Writing contest. We urge all interested teachers to register their schools in the contest. We're hoping that this year's contest is an even bigger success than last year's contest was!
The theme this year is:
The diversity of the family structure is one of the most significant factors that contribute to success in our society. Family can be groups of people who come together to raise children; parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, foster-parents, etc. In the appropriate format for your particular grade level, explore how YOUR family is structured and how this structure provides you with the love and support you need to succeed.
We've expanded our categories this year:
Contest rules are the same this year as last year. Each teacher will run the contest in his/her own classroom within the school. Each school will then select the ONE best entry per category and submit that best piece to the contest. Do not submit entries for your entire class.
If you would like to register your class in the "Our Town" writing contest, or if you would like to request more information, please contact us at:
Writing Contest, Kristy Gordon
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
100 Arthur Street, Suite 208
Winnipeg, MB R3B 1H3
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