CM June 14, 1996. Vol II, Number 35

Table of Contents

From the Editor


Publication date for this issue is June 14, which means CM is now in its second year. Originally we planned to make next week's issue the first of Volume III (and have the party then). But since Volume I (issues 1 - 18) was sort of a trial run, we've decided to extend Volume II (our first "official" volume) to a whole 52 weekly issues.

     That means the party and all of the official thank-yous and everything else wait until October 11th, when we publish Vol. II, No. 52. Well, probably nobody but us and the National Library pays much attention to how we number our volumes and issues, but the anniversary does bring up those words we've been putting at the bottom of our table of contents every week:

We do ask regular readers, however, for an annual contribution of $42 to help defray costs (. . . through June 7, 1996, Manitoba readers have had their donations paid courtesy of a Manitoba charitable foundation). Money sent to CM qualifies as a charitable donation.
Manitoba readers, we're now asking you too for a $42 (tax-deductible!) contribution towards the cost of producing CM. We think we've been putting out a quality journal -- and if you look at our welcome page you'll see some of the honours we've received from people who agree with us, like the Canadian Internet Directory.

     We've been here, every week, for a year, and we intend to stick around for the long haul and grow with the medium. Our unrestricted-access policy remains -- we think CM is a valuable national resource, one that everyone should be able to see -- but if you're a regular reader, your contribution will help.

-- Duncan Thornton

Book Reviews

CDNMom, the School Flooded!.
Ken Rivard. Illustrated by Jacques Laplante.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.
Preschool - Grade 2 / Ages 4 - 7.

CDNThe Monster from the Swamp:
Native Legends about Demons, Monsters and Other Creatures.
Written and Illustrated by C. J. Taylor.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Grades K - 8 / Ages 5 -14.

CDNBig Bear (Mistahimusquay).
James R. Miller.
Review by Ian Stewart.
Grades 10 and Up / Ages 16 - Adult.

CDNThe Canadian Renewable Energy Guide (First Edition)
Solar Energy Society of Canada Inc.
Edited by Duncan Noble and Robert Swartman.
Review by Gerri Young.
Grades 10 and Up / Ages 16 - Adult.

CDNHelping Kids Deal with Conflict:
An Everyday Resource for All Teachers and Parents.
Gerry Sheanh.
Review by Gail Lennon.


 Collaborative Book Review Project

 The Great Canadian Trivia Contest


 SchoolNet Needs Your Help!

image Mom, the School Flooded!
     (French: Maman, L'Ecole A Ete Inondee!)

Ken Rivard. Illustrated by Jacques Laplante.
Toronto: Annick Press, 1996. 32pp.
Paper, $4.95. ISBN: 1-55037-474-5 (French: 1-55037-474-5).
Library bound, $15.95. ISBN: 1-55037-475-3 (French: 1-55037-479-6).

Preschool - Grade 2 / Ages 4 - 7.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.



Okay, Mom, I was sitting quietly in the Vice-Principal's office . . . When the goldfish started a fight. . .

GUS, THE NARRATOR of Mom, the School Flooded! lets his imagination loose when his mother asks him why he's come home from school with his shoes, socks, and pants wet.

Image     "Weell," he begins, and then improvises a convincingly and appealingly child-like story. The invented details pile atop one another until Gus has involved a flood, the fire department, the police, and pretty much everyone at the school. (It's finally the caretaker who takes care of the flood, which has reached near-biblical proportions, with a mop.)

     Gus obviously enjoys making up his story, and young readers will enjoy watching someone else test the boundaries of credibility. At the end, Rivard tells the audience to close the book if they think Gus's mother believes him; if not, Gus has another story prepared, and another after that. Finally Rivard invites readers to tell one of their own.

Image     Jacques Laplante's illustrations are a good match for Ken Rivard's text. Done in pastel and gouache, they have a child-like, Edward Lear quality (just on the comic side of grotesque). The figures have no bones, as animators say; necks and arms loop around like pipe cleaners to fit whatever task the characters are involved in. (It's usually something that makes them sopping wet.)

Image        The illustrations are almost all two-page spreads, with Gus himself usually showing off somewhere in the picture (it's his story; why shouldn't he be the one the TV crew interviews?). Details -- like the Vice-Principal's goldfish bowl -- recur with comic consistency. Gus's narration (almost all the text) is drawn on the page as childish printing; his mother's speech is represented by large, regular Roman characters. Although early readers might have a bit of trouble with Gus's words, the contrast in typefaces is amusing and helps characterize the speakers.

     Available in either French or English.


Diane Fitzgerald is an elementary-school teacher in Saskatoon.

image The Monster from the Swamp:
     Native Legends about Demons, Monsters and Other Creatures.

Written and Illustrated by C. J. Taylor.
Montreal: Tundra Books, 1995. 32pp, cloth, $17.95.
ISBN: 0-88776-361-8.

Grades K - 8 / Ages 5 -14.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.



     The greedy giant had taken away all the water from the earth. Rivers stopped flowing. Oceans, lakes, streams and ponds had dried up.
     People were desperate and cried out: "All the animals have died of thirst. There are no more fish or even birds. Nearly all the plants have dried up. Soon even their roots will die and we will all die, too. Who will help us?"

THE SUBTITLE OF THIS BOOK describes its contents perfectly. The Monster from the Swamp contains eight legends from different North American aboriginal tribes, all dealing with monsters and demons -- and how they are defeated. The stories are two to three pages long, and are accompanied by beautiful, full-page paintings by the author.

Image     C.J. Taylor is noted for sensitively recording aboriginal legends from tribes across North America. She is an artist, and her talent is exhibited in several well-known books: How Two-Feather Was Saved from Loneliness; The Ghost and the Lone Warrior; Little Water and the Gift of the Animals; The Secret of the White Buffalo; How We Saw the World: Native Stories of the Way Things Began; and Bones in the Basket: Native Stories of the Origins of People.

Image     Taylor's books are very popular with both young and older children, for her understated style and the rich illustrations in which the skies are brilliant blue, the skies flaming red, the monsters agonized and the heroes gentle and triumphant. They have a mystical quality that is especially appealing to children. The stories are spare but well written, and explain the phenomena of life through legend.

Image     Since The Monster from the Swamp is a collection of brief tales, the reader is quickly plunged into each story. Because of this, the stories are suited to an individual or classroom of students who are already familiar with the genre of aboriginal legends and need little introduction to the setting or characters. The value of this collection is that the stories come from a wide range of tribes from the Tlingit in Alaska and B.C. to the Comanche of the American plains. The reader can compare approaches to nature from different tribes. Taylor gives credit to individuals who have kept the legends alive and at the end of the book describes where each tribe lives, and gives some details about them.

     This book will be a welcome addition to a library or classroom collection.

Highly Recommended

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.

image Big Bear (Mistahimusquay).

James R. Miller.
Toronto: ECW Press, 1996 (Canadian Biography Series).
132pp, paper, $14.95.
ISBN: 1-55022-274-4.

Grades 10 and Up / Ages 16 - Adult.
Review by Ian Stewart.



     For Big Bear and others, the early years of the 1870s were both the high point of development and the edge of a slope to destruction. Their society was intact, and their economy, especially in years such as 1968 when the spirit of the buffalo helped them so generously, was well developed. . . . Although there were certainly challenges a-plenty to Plains people in these years, the Cree were far from being a defeated or even a cowed nation. . . . They certainly were not ready to accept control by another people or complete loss of their territory. What had this Queen's representative, this Archibald, meant when he urged them to conduct themselves like good subjects of the queen mother?

PROFESSOR JIM MILLER'S Big Bear (Mistahimusquay) is not a complete biography of the Plains Cree leader. Although specific references are made to Big Bear (1825-1888), much of the early material provides a general ethnographic study of Native life from the early 1800s through the 1870s. The material included touches on individual lives, community affairs and obligations, inter-tribal relationships, and the consequences of white trade and settlement.

     We come to understand how Big Bear would have been raised and the expectations that would have been placed upon him as a male and as the son of a chief. Miller has given the general reader or the beginning student in Canadian history interesting and informative material. This background is presented clearly; hopefully it will also lead students' thoughts into new areas of historical exploration.

ImageBut the real story of Big Bear begins in the 1870s, when he fully assumed his role as an influential Native leader, and continues though to his imprisonment following the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. During the 1870s, the Canadian government worked to ensure that western settlement be orderly and peaceful. Throughout the decade they concluded treaties with Native tribes from northwestern Ontario to the Rocky Mountains. Although his fellow chiefs agreed to deal and signed Treaty Six in 1876, Big Bear refused. He was sceptical about Canada fulfilling its treaty obligations and believed that Natives were giving up too much freedom for too little security.

Image     Miller believes the strained relationship between Big Bear and Canada's officials was poisoned when the whites misinterpreted Big Bear's highly rhetorical phrases -- commonly used in the Cree language. According to Miller's thesis, the tragedy that befell Big Bear was simply a consequence of cultural and linguistic misunderstanding.

     The treaty officials believed Big Bear was threatening them, that he was a "trouble-maker," and a potentially violent threat to peaceful western expansion. "This fateful misunderstanding," Miller writes, "was both a revelation of the cultural abyss that separated Cree and Canadian negotiators and a foreshadowing of where misunderstanding would draw both Cree and Canadian negotiators over the next decade."

     Because of this misunderstanding, Big Bear, who had always wanted to follow a peaceful path, was unjustly persecuted. When some of his followers turned to violence during the Northwest Rebellion, he was arrested and then convicted for felony treason, and imprisoned at Manitoba's Stony Mountain Penitentiary. While Big Bear was in prison, he became seriously ill -- he was released in 1886 and died in 1888.

     Miller presents an interesting and challenging thesis in a generally enjoyable book. One annoying problem prevents the book from receiving the highest recommendation for high-school readers: at times the text suffers from the turgid and convoluted style so often found in academic history. Professors -- liven up your writing! We really don't want students to think Canadian history is boring.


Ian Nelson works at Lord Nelson school in Winnipeg and at the University of Winnipeg library.

image The Canadian Renewable Energy Guide (First Edition).

Solar Energy Society of Canada Inc.
Edited by Duncan Noble and Robert Swartman.
Burnstown, ON: General Store Publishing House, 1995. 238pp, paper, $24.95.
ISBN: 0-9680059-0-X.

Grades: 10 and Up / Ages 16 - Adult.
Review by Gerri Young.


Image THIS LARGE BOOK (28cm x 21cm) is an impressive, attractive, and comprehensive guide to the products, services, and contacts in Canada for alternative and renewable energy sources for home, agriculture, and business. Canadian Astronaut Roberta Bondar (chair of the Friends of the Environment Foundation) contributes a forward reminding us that "Our destiny as a lifeform is shaped by our ability to wisely use the finite resources of planet Earth."

     Many practical examples of the application of solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal energy are included, along with balanced analyses of the pros and cons of various energy sources (for example, there is a good comparison of the environmental effects of alternative fuels such as ethanol and methanol with those of gasoline).

          This is a made-in-Canada, easy-to-use book with case studies that can be applied to common conditions in our homes, farms, and businesses. The examples will also be applicable to remote northern locations and transportation. The Canadian Renewable Energy Guide takes the Canadian climate into consideration and speaks to concerns about using renewable energy sources in locations with weather extremes. Clear photographs and diagrams are supplied throughout.

     The back of the book includes information on renewable energy associations, provincial government contacts, on-line information, Canadian supplier catalogues, and books. There is also a directory of any Canadian company active in the five fields -- biomass, geothermal, micro-hydro, solar, and wind -- of renewable energy, listed by their activity in applications, products, and services.


Gerri F. Young works in Fort Nelson, B.C.

image Helping Kids Deal with Conflict:
     An Everyday Resource for All Teachers and Parents.

Gerry Sheanh.
Winnipeg: Peguis Publishers, 1996. 148pp, paper, $14.00.
ISBN: 1-895411-79-3.

Review by Gail Lennon.


AS ITS TITLE PROMISES, this practical book offers insights into dealing with conflict for the parent and teacher in an easy-to-read style. Helping Kids Deal with Conflict can be read in its entirety, but specific chapters can also be used in isolation.

     Dr. Joyce Brothers contributes a forward that calls Helping Kids Deal with Conflict a "thoughtful and caring look at the problems encountered by kids." In his own overview, author Gerry Sheanh attempts to explain why conflict has escalated by comparing the lives of children yesterday and today. The new stresses children face are startling when summed up in two pages.

     Sheanh is highly qualified to write about conflict and how we can help kids deal with it. A teacher who has worked with kids with problems in his twenty-four years in education, he is currently an elementary-school principal in British Columbia with articles on education and newspaper pieces on various subjects to his credit.

     Sheanh's tone is calm, practical and informed. Chapters include "Conflict Resolution Misunderstandings," "Conflict Resolution Strategies," "Bullying and Dealing with Bullies," "Peer Pressure," and an excellent section on "The Importance of Self Esteem."

     Through the use of brief biographical sketches of students he has met in his career, Sheanh takes the book beyond a mere manual on conflict resolution -- it's an account of living experiences in dealing with conflict at any grade and in any socio-economic situation.

     Helping Kids Deal with Conflict is a "must read" for professionals and parents who help children of any age. It should be assigned reading for every teacher education course! The practical, common-sense strategies outlined here will calm teachers and parents alike when faced with these difficult childhood situations.

Highly recommended.

Gail Lennon is a secondary resource teacher with the Bruce County Board of Education. In her thirty years of teaching in both rural and urban settings, she has taught every grade from JK to Adult Education in elementary, secondary and university academic locations. She has specialist qualifications in Library, ESL, Primary, Junior, Intermediate, Senior, and Special Education. Ms. Lennon is a keynote speaker, author, and workshop leader who has reviewed for CM for the past seven years.

The Great Canadian Trivia Contest

Important Note

This will be the last question for this school year with a two-week answer period. There will be a question next week but it will only have a one-week answer period.

Please Note:

When a list of students is sent in could you please indicate if these students answered the question:

a) independently
b) as a team or group
c) as a team or group representing a class or school


The White House, home of the President of the United States, got its name when it was white-washed to cover fire damage incurred when British troops burned the city of Washington in 1814. Washington was burned at least partly in retaliation for the burning of a Canadian town by American troops.

What was the name of this Canadian town?



Remember, don't post your answers to CM. Instead, send your answers to Steve Caldwell at one of the following e-mail addresses: or

May 31st's Question:

Many historians claim that the Cold War became public in Ottawa in 1946, with the defection of a Soviet cipher clerk, who revealed the presence of Soviet spy rings in North America.

Name this Soviet cipher clerk.


The Soviet cipher clerk who blew the whistle on Soviet spy rings in North America was Igor Sergeievich Gouzenko.


  1. Ian Raska, M. Pitre's Gr. 9 Histoire class, Colonel By Secondary School: Gloucester, Ontario
  2. Anshuman Kumar, Gr. 12, Colonel By Secondary School: Gloucester, Ontario
  3. Tommy and Cora Leigh representing Madame Scaplan's Gr. 6 French Immersion Class, Sacred Heart Elementary School: Marystown, Newfoundland
  4. Amanda Bharara, T. Burnie's Gr. 7/8 class, St. Ann School: Toronto, Ontario
  5. David Charbonneaux, T. Burnie's Gr. 7/8 class, St. Ann School: Toronto, Ontario
  6. Mrs. Walker's Social Studies 9 class, Pitt Meadows Secondary School: Pitt Meadows, British Columbia

General information about the Great Canadian Trivia Contest.

Duncan Thornton
Executive Assistant
Peter Tittenberger
If you would like to print out an entire copy of this issue of CM we have compiled all of our reviews in one print file.

About CM

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As of January 12, 1996, CM has implemented an unrestricted access policy: there will be no charge for either reading our web-site or receiving our e-mail version. We do ask regular readers, however, for an annual contribution of $42 to help defray costs. Money sent to CM qualifies as a charitable donation.

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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