1. Causabon writes: "Ioannou encourages writers to begin sentences with gerund phrases."
Not true. In the passage referred to, Ioannou says nothing about how to begin a sentence. Instead the point is to urge writers to "Dramatize the moment slipping by," using a gesture such as "Twisting her handkerchief'" Ioannou makes this intention clear: "The added gesture shows, not tells. The reader can see time pass." Causabon has misread the passage.
2. Causabon complains that Ioannou "relies on a level of knowledge about formal grammar that many high-school students simply won't have. Ioannou uses 'active voice' and 'passive voice' without defining the terms, for example, and uses 'pluperfect' as though everyone knows what it means."
What a sad (if inaccurate) comment on the state of English teaching today, particularly in conjunction with Causabon's own lack of grammatical knowledge. In the example quoted, "Twisting her handkerchief, she headed down the lane," Causabon wrongly identifies "twisting" as a "gerund," when in fact it is a present participle.
Jeanne Willis. Illustrated by Ken Brown.
North York, ON: General Publishing, 1996. 32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
Grades preschool - 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
Review by Naomi Gerrard.
In the Arctic, when it snows,
The hares must change their summer clothes.
They must put on their winter suits -
White coats, white caps, white gloves, white boots,
White vests, white pants and long white socks,
In case they're spotted by a fox.
But one small hare thought she knew best.
You should have seen the way she dressed -
Pink petticoat, pink pants, pink bows
Pink hat to match her small pink nose,
Pink cardigan, pink tights, pink slacks,
Pink shoes and pompoms on the backs.
This hare is delightful - living her own life in style, skipping across the white Arctic like a powder puff.
The lemmings laugh at her; the polar bears see her bobbing up and down and chase her, wondering if pink hare pie is agreeable. Pink hare runs and runs and gradually slips out of her pink clothes, scattering them along her trail. Pink hare's brothers and sisters fear there is something wrong and -
For hours they searched the snow for clues,What could have happened next is resolved very nicely!
But all they found were two pink shoes
with pompoms and a little bow.
"Oh, no!" they cried. "Oh, dear, no!
Our little sister's dead we fear...
Jeanne Willis, who has written several children's books including the award-winning The Rascally Cake, has created a delighful story with The Pink Hare. Ken Brown's illustrations are full of life, allowing the reader to bounce across the tundra with the rabbit, and beautifully capturing the disapproval of her family and the reactions of all the other arctic creatures to this frivolous pink hare.
The colour and spirit of this story should attract many smiles.
Naomi Gerrard has been fascinated with children's literature for years and has been a reviewer for the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbons Award. She is a member of CANSCAIP.
Debora Pearson. Illustrated by Jane Kurisu.
Toronto, ON: Somerville House Publishing, 1996. Unpaginated book and kit, $19.95.
Grades preschool and up / Ages 3 and up.
Review by Leslie Millar.
CLEAN UP FUN.If your child believes the above, you may be able to circumvent many future battles. Cookie Count and Bake is a nifty little kit that includes an attractive coil-bound cookbook, a sturdy square cookie sheet, plastic measuring spoons, and colourful number and shape cookie-cutters. All of the cooking utensils are made of nontoxic and dishwasher-safe materials. The only real drawback to this kit is that the cutters and spoons come attached to each other by plastic tabs which, when you break them apart, leave sharp points behind on the cutters.
What's the next best thing to making cookies? Washing up when you are done.
The package notes claim there are twenty recipes and activities in total, which is somewhat misleading. There are only four cookie dough recipes, and some ideas about different things to make with the dough, like a treasure chest made from cookie dough and filled with cookies. There is also a recipe for sticky icing, and ideas for decorating the treasure chest, as well as a recipe for baked playdough which can be used to create a home-made memory game.
Some of the suggested activities are pretty lame - unless you think finding the cookie-cutter numbers that match your weight and shoe size, or playing with the cutters at the beach is your child's idea of a great time. More fun will be had in the kitchen, using them for what they were made, cutting cookies!
There is really only one cookie dough recipe, for a basic sugar cookie. The other three recipes just add different ingredients to make new cookies (mint extract and food colouring for mint cookies; orange rind for orange-flavoured cookies; and cocoa for - surprise - cocoa cookies.) I have now given away nearly all the secrets of this book. I must confess, being a cookie gourmand, I was initially disappointed in the lack of variety. But the true test was in the baking, and those number cookies looked terrific! The orange ones being my personal favourite, did not last long in the cookie tin.
Is a kit like this necessary? No. You probably have the necessary accoutrements for making cookies in your home, including more interesting recipes. No doubt you could purchase number and shape cookie cutters somewhere. Is it fun? You bet it is, and $19.95 is pretty good value for a cookbook, cutters and a shiny silver baking sheet just for you. Or for your child, or one you know.
Leslie Millar is a mother and substitute teacher.
Jane Fleetwood-Morrow and Jaclyn Shoub. Illustrated by Bill Kimber.
Toronto, ON: Somerville House Publishing, 1996. 24 pp., $12.95.
Paper Fabric Book and Fun Kit.
Fabulous Doll Fashions.
Jane Fleetwood-Morrow and Catherine Heard. Illustrated by
Toronto, ON: Somerville House Publishing, 1996. 24 pp., $12.95.
Grades 2 - 7 / Ages 7 - 12.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Kids love crafts, and a craft instruction book complete with the materials provided for the projects makes a perfect gift. Two such kits included in the Paper Fabric Book and Fun Kit series are Fantastic Jewels and Fabulous Doll Fashions.
Fantastic Jewels is a craft kit for making painted fabric pins or necklaces, bracelets and earrings. The kit includes paper fabric, patterns, beads, wires, decorative cords, and earring hooks, as well as a glaze. The small, colourful book and materials are enclosed in a cardboard shell snapped into a hard plastic case.
The book is twenty-four pages long and the instructions are explicit and well laid out. The item to be made is pictured on the left, along with the materials needed. Important points to remember as the child works are highlighted before the instructions begin. The steps are clearly numbered, and include admonitions to make sure the work surface is covered before work begins.
The projects are readily accomplished by a competent child or a child who is being assisted by an adult. The crafts are pleasing to kids, and feature contemporary jewellery styles. But adults supervising the project must remember to inform the kids that these projects cannot be completed in one sitting. The instructions quite clearly state that glue and paint must be left to dry overnight. The work may have to be collected neatly and put aside so that the next step will be as successful as the first.
This project book is a good buy for kids to use at home. The price is reasonable, considering the cost of buying instruction books and materials separately.
For kids who like to dress Barbie-type dolls, Fabulous Doll Fashions will provide hours of challenge, fun and success making doll clothes.
This kit contains instructions and materials to make a sun hat and dress, shorts and a halter top, a garden fairy costume, a glittery ball gown and a nightgown decorated with a teddy bear. It includes paper fabric, pattern pieces, glitter, rhinestones, elastic thread, glue and coloured tissue paper.
Just like Fantastic Jewels, the kit includes a plain, small twenty-four-page instruction book and the materials in a cardboard shell, all encased in a snappable plastic case. The instructions are numbered and clearly illustrated. Appropriate warnings about safety are included. The projects are easy to accomplish, and kids will learn elementary skills in pattern cutting as they work. Again, adults must remind children that paint and glue must be left to dry overnight for the projects to turn out as intended. Impatient kids who want to dress their dolls may find it difficult, but the results of waiting are worth it.
This, too, is a worthwhile kit for home use. Children who complete these projects should be able to use the pattern pieces to cut fabric scraps and learn to use a sewing machine.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher/librarian in Winnipeg.
Bobbie Kalman. Illustrated by Barbara Bedell.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON: Crabtree, 1996. 32 pp., hardcover, $17.56.
Grades 2 - 8 / Ages 7 - 13.
Review by Gary Robertson.
The Victorian Home is part of the Historical Communities series which illustrates life in the Western world over the past three hundred years. Topics are wide-ranging, evident in titles such as: Colonial Crafts; 19th Century Clothing; Games From Long Ago; Tools and Gadgets; A One Room School; and many others.
The Victorian Home is a large-format book with clear and colourful illustrations and photographs. These are combined with short paragraphs that describe the construction of the homes; the function of the rooms; and unique features such as dumb-waiters, pie safes, chamber pots, trundle beds, and the scullery.
The author has created an interesting and easy-to-read text that poses questions and invites further discussion or research. There are so many aspects of home life that are written about in the book, that readers will be caught up in a continual search for new and different clues to life in the nineteenth century.
The Victorian era was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, but did not have amenities such as electricity, so the similarities and comparisons to our life-style today are natural. For instance, the author points out that "the Victorian homes did not have running water, so when the kitchen stove was being used for cooking, the scullery stove heated water for filling bathtubs and washing dishes. Laundry was also boiled on the scullery stove."
This book is ideal for elementary-aged students because of its vocabulary building, its respect for historical fact, and its colourful presentation.
Gary Robertson is a former Secondary School Fine Arts Instructor, and is both a practising artist and musician in Regina.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer & Co. Ltd., 1996. 132 pp., paperback, $8.95.
Grades 4 - 7 / Ages 9 - 12.
Review by Joan Payzant.
I thought of all the things Granny had done to try and find her box: She'd had me dig up the rose bushes and climb the cedar tree. She'd collected all the umbrellas and cut up a blue-velvet cushion. None of this made sense, but if I was going to believe Granny I had to trust her.
Rosemary (also known by various family members as Rose or Rosy) lives in Vancouver with her rather disorganized but loving family. Since her mother's death, her paternal grandparents have moved in to the household to help look after the four children. But as Granny becomes increasingly confused, it is Rosemary who looks after her. Granny gets into many different kinds of difficulties while searching for her valuable missing box, but sympathetic Rosemary helps her find it. This is a down-to-earth story, exploring family relationships, with lively touches of humour.
Joan Payzant is a retired teacher-librarian living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Halifax, NS: Formac Publishing, 1996. 121 pp., paperback, $8.95.
Grades 7 - 10 / Ages 12 - 15.
Review by Irene Gordon.
Melanie is 16 and living on the street because she cannot get along with her parents. So far she has remained in school and has not had to resort to prostitution or theft, but she is unsure how much longer she can manage. When she meets Trent, who is also on his own and trying to complete high school, he invites her to share his apartment. Though Trent is a stranger who seems even worse off than she is and the apartment is terrible, Melanie accepts because anything is better than the street. The remainder of the novel details Melanie and Trent's desperate attempts to combine school with part-time jobs which bring in enough money to keep a roof over their heads. Though the end of the story is upbeat, it is not a "lives happily ever after" ending which would be completely unsuitable, given what went before.
My first reaction to a young adult novel on a topic like this aimed at young adults is to fear that it will take either of two extremes. The first is that the story will be so ugly, graphic and hopeless that it will be considered unacceptable for younger teens to read. The second is that the story will be completely unrealistic, either because the author lacks knowledge of the topic, or because s/he misguidedly attempts to make the story acceptable for younger readers. Though I do not have the first-hand knowledge to judge the authenticity of Falling Through the Cracks, it seems that the author has been largely successful in avoiding both extremes.
The book seems realistic - some students do complete high school while living on their own - although Melanie is perhaps a bit too responsible and mature to be believable, and one wonders why her parents would not seriously attempt to get the family back together after she leaves. Overall, however, this novel is one that tells an important story that will capture the interest of teenage readers and I recommend it.
Irene Gordon is a teacher-librarian who has spent the past thirteen years working in a junior high school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and is presently co-editor of the MSLA Journal published by the Manitoba School Library Association.
Vancouver, BC: Ronsdale Press, 1996. 150 pp., paperback, $14.95.
Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.
Review by Mark Morton.
As a light-weight introduction to some of the quirks of the English Language, this slim book does an admirable job: the tone is fun, the writing style is perky, and the tid-bits of information are consistently entertaining and often enlightening. Richler skims over a lot of territory in the thrity-six chapters that make up his book, dipping into all sorts of language-related topics: palindromes, Yiddish curses, mistranslations, and the Canadian Press Stylebook to name only a few. This passage, from the chapter on surnames, exemplifies how intriguing Richler's descants can be:
Approximately 15% of Italian surnames are derived from nick-names. This practice is particularly prevalent in the rural south, where unpleasant attributes are captured in surnames. Machiavelli means "bad nails," Boccacio "bad mouth" and Scarsello "little miser." Noted film director Frederico Fellini's family name means "wicked" and journalist Oriana Fallaci's surname does not endow her with professional credibility - it means "fallacious."
On the down side, the individual chapters in Take My Words often seem a bit disjointed, at least in so far as the connections between paragraphs tend to be tenuous and the paragraphs themselves are under-developed. These weaknesses may reflect the fact that the chapters were originally written as columns for Montreal's English daily, The Gazette.
All in all, I would recommend Richler's book to highschool students, but I would caution them not to make it a model for their own writing. Take My Words might very well spur a student's interest in the English language, but it will not take them very far in exploring that subject.
Mark Morton teaches in the Department of English at The University of Winnipeg. He is the author of Cupboard Love: A Dictionary of Culinary Curiosities.
Burnstown, ON: General Store Publishing House, 1996. 207 pp., paperback $18.95.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Thomas F. Chambers.
Almonte's Brothers of the Wind is a biography of R. Tait McKenzie and James Naismith, two Canadians prominent in the development of sports and sports education. Naismith is best known as the creator of the game of basketball. McKenzie became a sculptor of international renown famous for his creations of athletes from various sports and numerous memorials.
James Naismith and Tait McKenzie were outstanding Canadians who outgrew the bounds of rural, eastern Ontario where they were born and left their mark on the world stage. Their story deserves to be told. Author Frank Cosentino, a Physical Education professor and former CFL quarterback who has written ten books on Canadian sport, is well-qualified to tell it. This book should be popular with young Canadians searching for sports heroes - both Naismith and McKenzie are worthy role models - but the amount of detail used in the book may put off non-sports fans.
The fact that James Naismith developed the game of basketball using two peach baskets is well known in Canada. Cosentino's account of the creative process involved is both thorough and interesting. It is a remarkable story. Anyone with a love of the game will enjoy learning the steps taken by Naismith and will appreciate Cosentino's account of how the game has progressed since its conception.
Fewer Canadians are likely to be aware of the work of R. Tait McKenzie. Six years younger than Naismith, he idolized the older boy, followed a similar career path, and became his life-long friend. Both men went from Almonte Township in the Ottawa Valley to McGill University. Both became McGill Directors of Gymnastics and medical doctors. Both were also interested in sports as part of the complete development of the person, believing that a sound mind and sound body must go together. However, while Naismith left his mark by creating basketball, McKenzie left his by creating widely acclaimed sculptures in Canada, the United States, and Europe. The book contains illustrations of his work. They are too small, however, to show the reader much of McKenzie's many creative gifts.
Almonte's Brothers of the Wind is well researched and well documented, but non-sports enthusiasts may find all the fine detail about organizations like the YMCA a little boring. There are also occasional grammatical errors which are annoying and detract from an otherwise well-written book. The narrative is sometimes confusing, as well, particularly in the first part of the book when the story jumps back and forth between Naismith and McKenzie. It would have been better to write about them one at a time since they did lead separate, if similar lives.
Anyone with a love of basketball and an interest in the development of the sport will want to read this book. Cosentino's enthusiasm for the subjects of his book is obvious but some readers will find his attention to detail tedious.
Recommended with reservations.
Thomas F. Chambers is a professor of politics, economics, and history at Canadore College of Arts and Technology in North Bay, Ontario.
W. H. New.
Lantzville, BC: Oolichan Books, 1996. 90 pp., paperback, $14.95.
Grades 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.
Review by Deborah Mervold.
MechanicsW.H. New is an academic - a chair in the Canadian Studies department at UBC and an editor of the critical quarterly Canadian Literature - who has taught and lectured all over the world. He is also a fine writer whose work, in his first collection of poetry, Science Lessons, is accessible and sympathetic to almost any reader.
It all depends what you mean by amateur:
nobody had formal training, that's for sure,
but it didn't matter when Cooper and Myshkin
and even Jack Ratigan on Saturday after tea
would gather by the John Deere
and give advice to the old man: Oil
and grease'er, Sparks, Always the carb, mostly
monosyllables, Try'er now, and after
an hour of blunt talk against change,
pink socks, city markets, good-
for-nothin'g-uvvinmint rules, they'd everything fixed,
and the tractor spit and spit and spit to life.
They wrenched the world together, these men,
loving the simplicity of machines.
The eighty poems in this collection follow the life of a central character, beginning when he is fourteen and moving with him into adulthood as he tries to match his individual needs to the collective workings of society. Marrying opposites is a recurrent theme throughout the poems, which use scientific terms to blend chaos with order, progress with tradition, subjectivity with objectivity, and practicality with aesthetics. In Radar, the central character tries to appear sane and coherent around the girl of his dreams. New perfectly captures this dilemma.
inside his head, he's singing sonnets,
meadowgrass and moss rose; aloud
He only mutters Hi and switches colour.
New's use of language is deft; the poetry flows easily with a good variety of words that are modern and easily comprehensible to senior high level students. The sonnet form is also useful for teaching purposes. Science Lessons would be a welcome addition to any classroom, as well as both public and private library collections.
Deborah Mervold is a teacher/librarian in a grade 6 to 12 school, and a Grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School.
Lantzville, BC: Oolichan Books, 1996. 208 pp., paperback, $15.95.
Review by Deborah Mervold.
The Chinese calligraphy instructor growled at the thinness of her own strokes. Wen Lo, she sensed, was not a happy man. Teaching these warm-coloured people fragments of his culture was perhaps not his idea of a life, and she wondered what he might have previously been. And did he look forward to a reincarnation in which he would be a mountaineer, a cowboy, a true artist? That philosophy gave a person immense scope, but she was not foolish enough to think she would have a choice in the matter. Like much else in life it was most likely a lottery. Worse still, it might be that one became in the next life what one deserved according to one's behaviour in this.
The teacher shooed them out of the room early. He looked tired and coughed frequently. Perhaps he hated them all for trying to attach themselves to a civilization going back five thousand years of which they understood nothing but what they could see with their misshapen eyes.
She stopped in the Hunan Garden for green tea and almond cookies.
And there, peering into the window, was Joe.
Don't run away, was a precept she had been taught early on by a father who had faced down a moose bare-handed, so he said. And who had caught many a deer in his headlights and not allowed their pleading eyes to stop him in his tracks.
"Joe," she said.
"Come back to me," he pleaded fish-like through the glass with the streetcar rattling along Dundas Street behind him.
"Drop dead," she replied.
This delightful collection of twenty stories is tied together with the somewhat loose connection of how all of the characters feel about the death of Marlene Dietrich. Each story stands on its own but the thread of connection is an interesting plus for the reader.
The characters are sympathetic and realistic. They are human - with both frailties and redeeming qualities - and represent a wide range of people. The stories visit and re-visit the lives of these characters at different times and in various situations.
In Bride of the Sea, Andrea loses an earring, thinking it has been washed out to sea. She doesn't see it as the valuable gift that her husband, Daryl, has given her to represent their love. The lost earring is eventually found and the couple come to a deeper understanding of one another. And still, the story closes with the sentence: "He knew that for all his life he would never lose the image of her smile at that moment and would spend a lifetime trying to fathom the mystery of it."
Wyatt's understated style makes emotional moments powerful for the reader. She is an acclaimed radio dramatist who has written over one hundred plays for the BBC and CBC. She has also written stage plays and television features. Marlene Dietrich is Wyatt's fourth novel and reveals her to be a talent in this medium as well.
The format of the book is attractive and easy to read. The cover design and the title are extremely effective, highlighting the theme of this collection, the spirit. Though Marlene Dietrich is dead, her spirit lives on through the memories, real or imagined, of these characters.
Deborah Mervold is a teacher librarian in a grade 6 to 12 school, and a Grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School.
Toronto, ON: Triune Arts, 1996.
VHS, 2 tapes, 52 min., teacher's manual, $250.00
Grades 7 - 12 / Ages 12 - 17.
Review by Gary Sova.
The two video tapes in the series Resolving Conflict Creatively deal with negotiation and conflict mediation skills.
The first video in this series, Negotiation, uses realistic dramas which are entertaining and, at the same time, provide concrete examples of conflict. A teacher presents the lesson on negotiation skills in a clear and knowledgeable fashion by using audience role playing, charts, drama, and lectures. As well, the presenter notes the difficulty of two people using negotiation skills when there is a power imbalance or violence involved. By bringing up this point, a smooth transition is made to the second video, which focuses on third party intervention or "mediation."
In the second video, Conflict Mediation, the same presenter does an excellent job of connecting the two videos by presenting a short summary review of negotiation skills. Again, the dramas are realistic and entertaining. I like the way various conflicts are illustrated using family, peer, and student/teacher scenarios. Generally the mediators do a very good job of illustrating the mediation process. Mediation is broken down into four phases in this video which helps summarize the process: opening, exchange, resolution, and agreement. In my training of student mediators, the mediation process is divided as follows: introduction and ground rules; story telling; solutions; future solutions; concluding remarks; and agreement.
I noted some differences between the second video and my own mediation training. For instance, the positioning of disputants and mediators is different. In the video, the persons in conflict face each other during the mediation. In our program, our student mediators are taught to position the disputant's chairs so they are facing the student mediators at a forty-five degree angle. In the early stages of conflict mediation, I have found that having students in conflict face the mediators rather than each other helps to prevent further conflict being created by hard looks or staring. As well, our mediators use a prevention phase which has the students in conflict plan for the future using more appropriate responses to conflicts.
I recommend these videos as excellent instructional tools in the classroom.
Gary Sova is a Behaviour Support Teacher in the Special Education Department of Winnipeg School Division No 1.
In case you missed any of them, we've put together this hyper-text listing of books, videos and CD-ROM's reviewed in 1996 that received an evaluation of "Highly recommended" from our reviewers.
Preschool to Grade 3 | Grades 4 - 8 | Grades 9 - 12 | Adult and Professional
CD-ROM | Videos
Preschool to Grade 3
This programme is designed for grades 4 - 8 with a view to maximizing the integration of subject matter (social studies, mathematics, technology, language arts, and art) through both on-line and in-class activities.
The students will be able to communicate directly with the curator of the exhibition via e-mail. The Museum will provide resources on the theme of hats for the students who are invited to act as the curators of their own virtual exhibition on the web. The best hats web pages will be featured on the Museum's web site.
Two grade 5/6 classes participated in the pilot project of this programme. Check out their virtual exhibition on the web at:
If you think that you and your class would like to participate, teachers are asked to register in advance. The programme will be available on-line from January 28 to March 31. Be sure to read the programme requirements before registering. Register early, as enrollment is limited.
Is the groundhog a good predictor of the weather? This project encourages Primary grade children (K-3) to find out. Track the weather for the 6 weeks following Groundhog Day and share data (and lots of other interesting things) with teammates around North America.
If you are interested in joining Project Groundhog or just want further details visit their website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Establishing a techology planning team, understanding what meaningful learning is, selecting technology that enhances meaningful learning, developing a budget, providing professional development and technical support to staff - these are among the technology planning concerns discussed and backed up with research. Some technology plans already in use in schools are presented as models.
Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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