Table of Contents
- The Royal Raven.
- Written and Illustrated by Hans Wilhelm.
- Review by A. Edwardsson.
- Preschool - Grade 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
- On the Go.
- Roger Paré with Bertrand Gauthier. Illustrated by Roger Paré.
- Translated by David Homel.
- Review by Diane Fitzgerald.
- Preschool - Grade 4 / Ages 4 - 9.
- The Kids Canadian Bug Book.
- The Kids Canadian Plant Book.
- Pamela Hickman. Illustrated by Heather Collins.
- Review by Luella Sumner.
- Grades 2 - 5 / Ages 7 - 11.
Your Own Cards, Signs, Gifts and More.
- Amanda Lewis.
- Review by Lorraine Douglas.
- Grades 3 - 7 / Ages 8 - 12.
- The Perfect Gymnast.
- Michele Martin Bossley.
- Review by Sara Brodie.
- Grades 3 - 8 / Ages 8 - 13.
- Creating with Fimo Acrylic Clay.
- Libby Nicholson and Yvonne Lau. Illustrated by Tracy Walker.
- Review by Luella Sumner.
- Grades 4 and Up / Ages 9 and Up.
- Notable Web sites
The Royal Raven.
Written and Illustrated by Hans Wilhelm.
New York: Cartwheel (Scholastic), 1996. Unpaginated, cloth, $21.99.
Preschool - Grade 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
Review by A. Edwardsson.
CRACK! The egg popped open and out came Crawford. "Here I am!" he
crowed. But there was no reply. His mother was out looking for food. He
was all by himself. There was nobody to make a fuss about his arrival.
Then came an even
Crawford saw that
he was a boring-looking raven, like all the others. Deep in his heart he
felt he was special. He tried to show how different he was. "Look at
me!" he said.
But nobody ever
paid any attention.
POOR CRAWFORD THE CROW has an identity crisis. He longs to be a bird with
more "razzle dazzle" than a plain black raven. He tries several ways to
disguise his plainness, but when these attempts fail, he decides to do
Deep in the forest he
called upon an old woman who was known for her special powers. Crawford
came right to the point: "I'll do anything for you if you can make me
different. I want some color, some flash, some razzle
He cuts a deal,
and once the magic words are spoken, Crawford transforms into a bird more
gaudy than a peacock. After returning home to show off to the other
ravens, he decides staying in the forest would be a waste of his beauty.
So . . . he's off to the castle of the King.
Soon after his
arrival, Crawford is spotted and captured by the princess. At first he
loves the attention, but:
Unfortunately, the royal raven's table manners left much to be
desired. He lost a great deal of his popularity when he caused a major
ruckus in the royal dining room. He was ordered OUT!
ignored, he longs to fly free and join the other birds. One day he
overhears the princess say that she wouldn't dream of releasing him,
since his fancy feathers are one of a kind. "Suddenly Crawford
understood what he had to do to gain back his freedom."
based The Royal Raven on the story "The Little Grey Bird,"
which appeared in an earlier collection. Crawford's undoing is similar to
the fate of the dog in Bill Peet's Wingdingdilly; "pride
goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall," and the
price of their fame and fortune is a cage.
may relate to Crawford's desire for attention, it's hard to sympathize
his self-absorbed character. Sure, his mother was absent at his birth,
but why wasn't she able to teach him that beauty is only skin deep when
And there's no
indication of why, when he had everything going for him, Crawford "blew
it" with his bad table manners. Also confusing is that his "friends" are
all happy to see him return -- but Crawford never appeared to have any
friends. His behaviour certainly didn't suggest that he bothered to
socialize with his fellow "boring-looking" ravens.
The bargain he
strikes with the witch (who is carefully never labelled as such) is also
a little unbelievable. Crawford is willing to sell his soul for some
special effects, and all the woman wants in exchange are three
Wilhelm's illustrations convey the transformation with some artistic
special effects. Similar to the flashy scales of Rainbow
Fish (Marcus Pfister), Crawford's new feathers are accented with
iridescent gold holographic foil. The rest of the characters appear in
the artist's characteristically charming watercolour style.
Readers who like
or need special effects will probably enjoy The
(moralistic) Royal Raven. However, Wilhelm's
Oh What a Mess, and I'll Always Love You have
much stronger storylines. Still, this book would be an acceptable
purchase for libraries.
A.Edwardsson works at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library where she
is in charge of the Children's department. She has a Bachelor of
Education degree, Child Care Worker III certification and is a member of
the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors Association.
On the Go.
Roger Paré with Bertrand Gauthier.
Illustrated by Roger Paré.
Translated by David Homel.
Toronto: Annick Press, 1996. Unpaginated.
Paper, $4.95. ISBN: 1-55037-408-7.
Cloth, $15.95. ISBN: 1-55037-409-5.
Preschool - Grade 4 / Ages 4 - 9.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.
"Where shall we go?"
Georgia asked Gigi.
"To Paris? To London?
To Whitehorse or Fiji?
Shall we rollerskate
Or fly a plane?
Shall we sail a boat?
Or take the train?...
THIS ENGLISH TRANSLATION of award-winning illustrator Roger Paré's Plaisirs de vacances is the story of two mice travelling the world (and beyond). Sometimes they fly on their cat, sometimes they use a balloon, sometimes they use ropes to climb a mountain.
The format is constant: one four-line page of text facing a full-page illustration. Paré is quoted on the jacket copy as saying "When the illustration is explicit enough, what writing I have to add is little in terms of quantity," and the book is consistent with this philosophy.
The somewhat cartoonish illustrations are great fun, and accessible and usually crowded with the interesting details that fascinate pre-readers.When Georgia and Gigi are in the jungle, for example, they pose the animals for a picture; there is not only a crowd of monkeys, tigers, elephants, and so on mugging in front of the camera, but a caricatured butterfly watching the procedure from behind.
But the text is a let down. Keeping to a brief, four-line verse on a page allows for an extremely readable typeface, but not much detail -- something that may disappoint older children fascinated with the premise. How do they get to all those places, for example? Sometimes the illustrations tell you; more often they don't.
Moreover (though this may be the fault of the English translation), at times the A-B-C-B rhyme-scheme is so rough you wonder why they bothered. For example:
Then into the jungle
In all, a pleasant but unspectacular addition to a picture-book collection; the modest paperback price makes it more attractive.
For a souvenir-photo
Of their many new friends,
Including Miss Hippo.
Diane Fitzgerald is an elementary-school teacher in Saskatoon.
The Kids Canadian Bug Book.
The Kids Canadian Plant Book.
Pamela Hickman. Illustrated by Heather Collins.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1996. 32pp, cloth, $14.95.
Grades 2 - 5 / Ages 7 - 11.
Review by Luella Sumner.
A seed is like a tiny picnic basket full of food that the plant uses when it starts to grow. Before a seed can sprout, or germinate, it must have water. In the winter the water in the ground is frozen and the seeds can't use it. In the spring the ice thaws and the seeds begin to sprout. They soak up water like sponges until they get so big they burst. A tiny root and a shoot poke out of each seed. They will grow into a new plant if they get enough food from the soil and enough water and sunlight.
-- from The Kids Canadian Plant Book.
THESE TWO BOOKS are in the same series as Kids Can's Kids Canadian Bird Book and Tree Book. They follow the same format and are the same size. Each has a table of contents and a brief index.
Heather Collins's colourful and appealing drawings complement the text, the print is large and easy to read, and the vocabulary is challenging but not beyond the reach of most children in the age group. The sections each deal with a different topic, like (in the Plant Book) pollination, surviving winter, and plant defences, or (in the Bug Book) insects at night, insect migration, giant moths, and so on.
Some sections have suggested activities and experiments to stimulate the child's interest (the text cautions the reader and tells them to "ask an adult to help," and at the beginning of the books there is a brief disclaimer of damages that might result from following the activities).
These books would be good material for teachers or parents to use to introduce children to nature study. Kids will especially like the encouragement found in the bug book to go out and collect creepy-crawlies of all sorts to examine and then release back into the wild.
Luella Sumner is the Chief Librarian of the Red Rock Public Library in Red Rock, Ontario, where she has worked for twenty years.
Your Own Cards, Signs, Gifts and More.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1996. 48pp.
Paper, $5.95. ISBN: 1-55074-232-9.
Cloth, $16.99. ISBN: 1-55074-312-0.
Grades 3 - 7 / Ages 8 - 12.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.
Use the suggestions and ideas in this book to create lettering projects
of your own. Look at books, ads, magazines and posters to see how letters
are used. You'll find that letters come in thousands of shapes and sizes.
Be a letter collector -- if you see lettering you like, trace or copy it
and keep it to use later. Experiment with different sizes, styles, tools
and papers to invent new kinds of lettering. Most of all, enjoy the power
in your fingers -- the power to communicate your ideas on paper.
THE "KIDS CAN CRAFT" series is known for its appealing and reasonably
priced titles, and this new addition to the series is exciting. Lewis, a
professional calligrapher, offers children an easy entrance into
calligraphy by showing how to use double pencils with colouring for large
signs and banners. She next demonstrates Gothic letters using a nib or
instructions are very clear and much better than those found in the
Usborne book of Calligraphy Projects by Fiona Watt and Anna
Rowley (Usborne, 1994). She also explains Versals and shows how to use
them in bookmarks, labels, and gift tags. For each project, a list of
requirements is included -- and many of the supplies are modest in price
or found around the house.
will catch the eye of adult calligraphers -- especially the 3-D letter
tower and jewellery made of baking clay. There's also lots of good
information on using coloured pencils, design principles, and layout for
The projects are
much easier than those in the Usborne Book of Calligraphy
Projects, and both beginning and advanced students should find
success in completing them.
Lorraine Douglas is Youth Services Coordinator for Winnipeg Public
Library, and is also a calligrapher and book artist.
The Perfect Gymnast.
Michele Martin Bossley.
Toronto: James Lorimer & Company ("Sports" series), 1996. 76 pp,
Grades 3 - 8 / Ages 8 - 13.
Review by Sara Brodie.
a disorder in which overeating alternates with self-induced vomiting,
Overeating. The words burned themselves into my brain. Hilary had thrown
up at the competition. She'd said it was nerves, but she'd acted so weird
-- hardly nervous at all and angry when I wanted to get Pam to help. What
if she's thrown up on purpose? She was
practically starving herself at school, but she wasn't losing weight.
Suppose she was stuffing herself in secret and then making herself get
TWELVE-YEAR-OLD ABBY BERKOWSKI has recently moved with her family to
Calgary and is having trouble meeting new friends. Abby is so painfully
shy of meeting new people and trying new things that her mother forces
her to join a local gymnastics club to boost her confidence and help her
make new friends.
Instead of being
the fumbling, awkward klutz she was positive she would turn out to be,
Abby discovers she has some athletic talent. Slowly, Abby gains more
confidence in herself and even makes some friends, including the top
gymnast in the club, Hilary Chen.
Abby begins to
notice how strange Hilary's eating habits are. Hilary alternates between
eating very little and worrying about her weight one day, and
wolfing down massive amounts of food the next. Eventually, Abby realizes Hilary
has a serious eating disorder -- bulimia. When confronted, Hilary swears
Abby to secrecy and insists she has to keep thin to make it to the top in
gymnastics. Abby is torn between maintaining her friendship with Hilary
and helping a very sick friend.
bulimia are all-too-common problems in the athletic world. A 1992
Globe & Mail article states that one in three female athletes will
suffer an eating disorder. Who can forget the fate of young U.S. gymnast
Christy Henrich, who died after a five-year battle with anorexia and
bulimia? Christy, four feet, ten inches tall, and only ninety pounds, was
told by a U.S. gymnastics judge that she would have to lose weight if she
hoped to make the 1988 Olympic team. When she died in 1994, Christy
weighed sixty-one pounds.
Gymnast will introduce to the young reader the subject of eating
disorders and the pressure often felt by athletes to be unrealistically
thin in an honest, sensitive manner. The novel's characters are appealing
because they are regular, everyday kids attempting to deal with a tough
problem, and young female readers will find Bossley's novel a welcome
addition to the sports stories genre. The Perfect Gymnast
is fast-paced, informative, and -- at only seventy-six pages --
attractive even to reluctant readers.
Gymnast is a recent addition to Lorimer's "Sports Stories" and
Bossley's second title in the series. Her first, Breathing Not Required, was
reviewed in the February 23, 1996 issue of CM.
Sara Brodie presently works for Dalhousie University Libraries in
Halifax. She has recently returned from New York where she worked for the
Brooklyn Public Library.
Creating with Fimo Acrylic Clay.
Libby Nicholson and Yvonne Lau. Illustrated by Tracy Walker.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1996. 48pp, paper, $6.99.
Grades 4 and Up / Ages 9 and Up.
Review by Luella Sumner.
THIS BOOK IN THE "KIDS CAN CRAFT" series is wonderfully bright and
eye-colourful, with every step in the creation of eye-catching jewellery
illustrated in detail.
gives general information on the use of Fimo acrylic clay, including
colours, tips on working with the clay, baking it, amounts needed, and
tools and accessories needed for the projects. Each of the five chapters
gives instructions in a different technique -- cookie cutting, stencil
cutting, marbling, petal discing, and hand-building. There are at least
three different projects described in each chapter, for a total of more
than twenty-five. The illustrations and instructions are clear, and the
lists of tools and clay amounts needed is precise.
The book lays the
ground for successful projects, but obviously the quality of the results
will also depend on the child's level of experience working with
handicrafts and willingness to follow directions carefully. Although the
authors do not state this book is intended primarily for girls, none of
the projects are likely to appeal to most boys.
In the text of
the book the authors do not mention the importance of adult assistance in
buying supplies, finding the necessary tools (such as scissors, knitting
needles, knives, and glue), or in supervising the baking process.
Although there is a warning on the verso of the title page emphasizing
the need for caution -- particularly with the baking process -- and
recommending adult supervision, the omission of this advice from the main
text is only flaw I found in Creating with Fimo Acrylic
Clay. But it is an important one.
Recommended with reservations -- children using the techniques in
this book should be supervised by an adult.
Luella Sumner is the Chief Librarian of the Red Rock Public Library in
Red Rock, Ontario, where she has worked for twenty years.
"Notable Web Sites"
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.
- The Secret of the Silver Horse
- Normally you don't associate children's literature with the Canadian
Department of Justice. But The Secret of the Silver Horse
is a well-illustrated story for children that teaches children:
that secrets about sexual abuse should not
be kept. The story also teaches that if a child tells a teenager or an
adult about sexual abuse and
that person does nothing, the child should be persistent and tell someone
The only drawback is that large and attractive illustrations can be a
little slow to load. In English and French.
- There's a certain irony in a site designed to improve kids' use of
English being called "words-R-us," but this site features daily
words arranged around weekly themes. Definitions and etymologies
accompany each word. You can subscribe and get the words delivered by
e-mail, but that way you miss the RealAudio pronunciation clips
and occasional explanatory graphics. Of course, the spellings and
pronunciations are American, so be around to guide your students through
the "ou" problem.
- Shakespeare Oxford Society Home Page
- Nothing encourages study than a little argument. For example, some
people believe that Shakespeare wrote his own plays, others don't. Who's
right? Being a History and English major, I could tell you,
but you can look at the evidence yourself. The Shakespeare Oxford Society
is not a product of the university, but a group who believe that Edward
de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, was the real author of Shakespeare's
plays. But be sure to also point your students to The Shakespeare
for a more skeptical look at the possibility.
(Both sites found by Brian R. Page.)
- Sources of Skeptical Information on the Internet
- Speaking of crackpots, do you have students who take the
X-Files a little too seriously? Have them browse among the
many sources of skeptical/debunking information listed here. Even has
pages suggesting organized skeptics may go too far...
- Current Shuttle Flight!
- All right, the "Notable Web Sites" has been away for a couple of
weeks, so I know many of you are missing the regular cool space-related
site. Well, this one takes you to a sight devoted to the mission going on
right now, over your head (the second flight for Canadian
astronaut Marc Garneau). Information about the mission and crew,
pictures, video and sound clips.
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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