"Canadian parents interested in educational and entertaining materials for their kids will find a treasure chest at CM. Published by the Manitoba Library Association, CM lets parents search for children's book authors or access CM's vast stable of family-friendly book reviews or reviews of multimedia projects. If you like the sound of CM-reviewed books, you can order them online. CM is a wonderful discovery, as pleasant as a stroll through a well-stocked library and as rewarding as hugs from your kids."
A New Butterfly: My First Look at Metamorphosis.
Grades preschool - 3 / Ages 3 - 8.
Review by Leslie Millar.
These are the owlets
that were fed by the owl,
that caught the snake,
that swallowed the toad,
that gobbled the bug,
that fed on the wildflower,
that grows in the field
where Jill plays.
The above excerpt represents the entire text (excluding description and fold-out explanations) of, as you may guess, Hungry Animals: My First look at a Food Chain. Pamela Hickman and Heather Collins have created a delightful nature series that is sure to entertain, as well as instruct. These attractive books are mid size, approximately six by six inches. The realistic, full-colour illustrations should make them a useful resource for any early years teacher with spring and science on the brain.
The books all follow a narrative pattern wherein each page builds on the preceding page. For example, A New Butterfly begins, "This is the tree that Connie climbs." Page two continues, "This is the leaf that grows on the tree that Connie climbs." Page three carries on, "This is the butterfly that landed on the leaf, that grows on the tree that Connie climbs." The repetition, along with easy-to-read large print and simple vocabulary, will encourage independent reading as readers become more familiar with the text. The rhythm makes the books enjoyable to read aloud. The simple narrative and pictures will interest younger audiences, and older children wlll appreciate the book's scientific, informative aspects.
Every second page of each book folds out to supply more detail about the text or to point the reader to new areas of interest. The first fold out of A New Butterfly illustrates and names insects that can be found under the bark of a tree. The fold-outs help explain the scientific drama underlying the main text and are generally clear and helpful.
'Notes to Parents' offers tips on how to expand the ideas in the books, provides things to try at home (eg. how to successfully keep a caterpiller until it turns into a butterfly), and suggests how to explain the necessity of the food chain, brutal as it might seem to some children.
These economical, user-friendly and colourful books deserve a place on home and school bookshelves.
Leslie Millar is a mother and substitute teacher.
Grades K - 5 Ages 5 - 10.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Whales are big wild animals that live in the ocean. They are sometimes called the giants of the sea.
Whales look like huge fish, but they are mammals. Like other mammals, they breathe with lungs and they are warm-blooded. Their body temperature stays warm, even in cold water. Mammal babies feed on their mother's milk.
Blue whales are the biggest animals in the world. They can grow as long as a train car - up to 30 m. (100 feet) long! A newborn Blue whale is as long as a school bus.
Wild Dogs and Whales, two titles from the Wildlife Series, share a common purpose and format. Each is full of basic, interesting information which is tightly written and suitable for young fact finders. Those children beginning to develop research skills will appreciate each book's inclusion of a table of contents, a glossary and an index. Every pair of facing pages deals with a new subtopic which is developed in several sentences accompanied by illustrations. Diagrams are clearly labelled and explained. Many pages have highlighted "Fact" boxes which contain interesting tidbits of related information. The accurate illustrations, only slightly anthropomorphic, show the animals in natural settings. Wild Dogs and Whales are useful purchases for school libraries or classrooms, and their hardcover format will extend their information lifetime.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.
Chrystine Brouillet. Illustrated by Nathalie Gagnon. Translated by Linda Gaboriau.
Charlottetown, PEI: Ragweed Press, 1996. 85pp., paper, $6.95.
Grades 2 - 5 / Ages 7 - 10.
Review by Naomi Gerrard.
In South Africa, people believe that the Corycium nigrescens can ward off bad luck and the devil. In Mexico, there is a Jesus flower, Laelia rubescens, and the flower of the dead, Oncidium tigrinum. There's also an orchid called Dracula.
This delightful, well thought out mystery, full of suspense and challenge, begins with Andrea, like many children, desperately wanting to earn some money. When Andrea realizes that certain orchids can be worth thousands of dollars, she considers them as a possible source of income. Andrea and her friend Arthur attend a lecture given by Professor Cavendish, an orchid grower, who invites the inquisitive children to visit his greenhouse. Their visit leads them into danger as they enter the world of these exotic flowers and the mystery of the Black Pearl, an orchid the professor and his assistant, Scarface, are attempting to develop because its rare colour will make it most valuable.
The mystery's pace accelerates when Professor Cavendish asks the children to look after his greenhouse while he attends a private meeting of orchid lovers in Texas to discuss the Black Pearl. In his absence, someone breaks into the greenhouse, ransacks it while stealing some items, and physically attacks another of Andrea's friends, Mikis. With the assistance of Andrea's dog, Sherlock, the children uncover many clues and suspect that Scarface, despite his kind, helpful nature, could be the bad guy.
Like most juvenile mysteries, No Orchids for Andrea! contains a number of engaging plot twists and an appropriate assortment of suspects. The quickly paced plot will hold readers' attention and challenge their imaginative minds.
Naomi Gerrard, a CANSCAIP member, has been fascinated with children's literature for years.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 1996. 64pp., laminated paper over boards, $18.95.
Grades 2 and up / Ages 7 and up.
Review by Jennifer Sullivan.
Set in the hills of Italy during the early days of this century, Enchantment in the Garden is the story of a statue named Cherubino and Valerie, the lonely girl who brings him to life. Like Mary, the orphan in The Secret Garden and Tom who journeys back in time in search of a friend in Tom's Midnight Garden, Valerie longs for companionship. Her mother, a busy socialite, and her father, a rich businessman, have no time for their young daughter.
English author-illustrator Shirley Hughes, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal for children's illustration for Dogger, once again creates a charming story that partners beautiful pictures with an appealing text. Hughes establishes a fairy tale stage for her story with the opening words, "Once in an old Italian city in a house with many rooms, there lived a little girl called Valerie." The first sentence echoes the "Once upon a time" of the traditional fairy tale and immediately suggests Valerie's isolation and loneliness in the house with many rooms.
Valerie was an only child. She was too serious for her age and had more toys and dresses than she could possibly need. But she had few friends, and, of course, she was lonely.
With no friends her own age, Valerie spends most of her days alone or in the company of her governess, Miss McKenzie. One day while strolling through a richly ornate Italian garden which had once belonged to a great prince, Valerie comes upon a statue of a beautiful long haired boy riding a dolphin. She talks to the stone statue, claims him as her best friend, christens him with the name Cherubino, and he magically comes to life. But Cherubino, who does not look or act like other children, is immediately taken away to an orphanage where he becomes ill. Rescuing her new friend, Valerie brings him home to work in her family's garden. The garden restores and nourishes Cherubino; his appetite returns, and his cheeks become rosy with good health. But before long, Cherubino realizes that he does not belong in Valerie's world and must return to the sea.
The story embraces the universal themes of loneliness, friendship and loss while, at the same time, it unites some of the conventions of children's literature - statues magically brought to life, enchanted gardens that revive and invigorate, orphanages as institutions of horror and abuse - with a contemporary setting. Hughes' portrayal of Valerie adds a modern dimension to the story. She looks and acts like a real little girl; her unruly curls and glasses suggest her impetuous, inquisitive nature. Her face is full of expression - sadness when she is ignored by her parents - joy when she discovers Cherubino. Valerie's loneliness and search for a friend bond her to the young and older reader. Despite Cherubino's return to the sea, this modern fairy tale has a happy ending when Valerie comes to understand that her friend will always be a part of her.
The full-page pictures reinforce the story's fairy tale element. Bright washes of sunlight and moonlight infuse the illustrations with a magical cast. The lush garden scenes are particularly evocative, their vibrant colours suggestive of the lush Tuscan landscape. Etchings in pen decorate each page, and endpapers depicting the Italian scenery endow the book with a rich ornamental appearance.
This beautiful picture book will appeal to adults as well as children. One small reservation is the book's length, 58 pages, which may be a little long for younger children. But read over a couple of nights, this book is sure to hold a child's attention.
Jennifer Sullivan works in the Canadian Literature Research Service of the National Library of Canada.
Scarborough, ON: HarperCollins, 1997. 222pp., paper, $12.95.
Grade 3 - 7 / Ages 8 - 12.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.
Note: Book was reviewed from page proofs.
All around him in the crisp autumn night, he could hear and see other Silverwings streaking through the forest, hunting. Shade stretched his wings luxuriously, only wishing they were longer, more powerful. For a moment he closed his eyes, sailing by sound alone, feeling the air caress the fur on his face and stomach.
His ears pricked suddenly. It was the telltale drumming of a tiger moth in flight. He tilted his right wing and wheeled, locking onto his prey. If he could just catch one . . . everyone knew how hard they were to catch, and then he'd have a story of his own to tell back at Tree Haven at sunrise.
Readers familiar with Ken Oppel's work will recognize him as an author of picture books, first chapter books and YA novels, but, with Silverwing, he moves into a new genre, the talking animal fantasy. And his choice of central creature is most unusual - bats, and, in particular, Silverwing bats. "Cuddly" and "attractive" are not likely the first two words that readers would associate with these denizens of the night, but, after vicariously participating in the quest of Shade, runt of the year's newborns, as he struggles to rejoin his colony in their winter migration, adoring readers will be clamouring for a sequel that the book's open ending suggests is a possibility.
Oppel populates his novel with a delightful cast of characters, including Ariel, Shade's loving mother; Marina, his travelling companion; Chinook, the bullying newborn; Frieda, a mystical colony elder; and a truly evil villain, Goth, a huge flesh-eating bat. In addition to undertaking his physical journey, Shade unknowingly begins a moral or spiritual quest when he challenges the colony's "values" by daring to stay out to see the rising sun, an act which violates the "law" which keeps bats safe from nocturnal birds, such as owls. Another enticing element Oppel introduces is the question of the meaning of the metal rings which some bats have on their forearms. Readers will quickly discover that they cannot simply dismiss the bands as the work of inquisitive scientists. Finally, the expression, "blind as a bat," is wonderfully contradicted as Oppel recreates the bats' echo vision "sound" world.
In addition to being a fine individual read, Silverwing's dramatic structure makes it an excellent choice as a classroom read-aloud.
Dave Jenkinson teaches children's and adolescent literature courses at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 1996. 191 pp., paper, $7.95.
Grades 4 - 8 / Ages 9 - 13.
Review by Irene Gordon.
A Completely Different Place is Perry Nodelman's second novel featuring John Nesbit, an ordinary 12 or 13-year-old boy from Winnipeg, who finds himself in the fantastic country of Strangers where he has to rescue a group of kidnapped children.
The story opens with John's having a nightmare in which a former classmate, Cheryl Zennor, has turned into a giant who is screaming, "JOHNNY! JOHNNEE NESSSBITTTT! COME TO ME! ME, MEEEEE!" The real Cheryl had disappeared some two months earlier, and John finds that:
The nightmare had upset me so much that I couldn't go back to sleep. As I lay there . . . I found myself thinking about another girl who'd disappeared. It seemed that a lot of people were disappearing . . . especially a lot of kids from my own neighbourhood, Riverview. This particular one . . . was only five or six years old. She'd been playing alone in Churchill Park Drive . . . and she'd made the mistake of blowing on a horn she'd found there. The horn belonged to an especially nasty bunch of Strangers, a gang of them called the Sky Yelpers. It seems the favourite snack of these Yelper guys was raw human flesh - especially the flesh of humans who blew on that stupid horn.
So, anyway, I managed to push the little girl out of the way of the Sky Yelpers . . . Now she'd disappeared, too. And her entire house had gone along with her.
Soon, however, John realizes that he was not dreaming. Somehow he has been transported to the country of Strangers. He also learns that Cheryl is not a giant; rather he has shrunk.
The book contains suspense, adventure and humour (derived from John's problems as an insect-sized person in a normal-sized world). Cheryl tries to help John get home while he attempts to make her see that she and the other children, who had all felt unwanted at home, did not come to the land of Strangers of their own free will but rather had been kidnapped.
Though the book has the kind of "yucky" details and humour that should be appealing to the typical 10-year-old, the novel, as a whole, is somewhat unsatisfying. Perhaps part of the problem resides in the fact that readers can go through the entire book before learning that it is a sequel. Instead of front end loading such information, the publishers withhold the brief note about The Same Place But Different until the very last page of A Completely Different Place.
Recommended to avid fantasy fans and other readers in Winnipeg who might enjoy another book partially set in their home city.
Recommended with reservations.
Irene Gordon, a teacher/librarian at Westdale Junior High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is currently co-editor of the MSLA Journal published by the Manitoba School Library Association.
Winnipeg, MB: Hofer Publishers, 1995. 157 pp., paper, $10.95.
Grades 6 - 10 / Ages 11 - 15.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.
On lotday Sunday the sun climbed over the heavens hidden behind high, feathery clouds, and I stood outside our unit for a while in the afternoon, playing tricks on my eyes. I stared and squeezed, watching the blood hues rush together and become ghosts of the sun inside my head. Each time I let the light flood back in, I saw I was still at Rockyview Colony, and the blue Canadian Rockies rising up out of the foothills winked back at me. I listened for the wind. On lotdays, my father had said, the wind blew where it wished, and you heard the sound, but you didn't know where it would blow you till the preachers made the draw. I heard a calf bawling over at the corral. but that was all. There was just a wisp of a breeze on lotday, and you couldn't hear that.
In addition to providing an enticing family/coming of age story with a touch of a mystery, Hofer offers middle school readers an informing glimpse into the daily routines of the communal lifestyle of one of Canada's little known peoples, the Hutterites. Over two summer weeks, 12-year-old Peter Waldner experiences many changes in his life. Because his Rockeyview Colony in Alberta has exceeded its optimum population, its membership must be divided, and half of its residents will go to live on the new colony of Flat Willow in Saskatchewan.
On "lotday," Peter's family is one of those chosen, and Peter must reluctantly abandon his dream of becoming a "cowboy" on the cattle based Alberta colony for the less romantic role of being a gooseboy at the poultry/pig focused Flat Willow. Wandering about the countryside surrounding his new colony, Peter stumbles upon a deserted shack where he meets an "English" girl, Tessa Longman, who is about his age. Though Peter knows that his father would disapprove of his fraternizing with "people of the world," he finds himself attracted to both Tessa and the unknown way of life she represents. Tessa also becomes the key to unravelling the mystery of a missing rifle and the discovery of a man's frozen body, events which occurred during the period when the new colony was being constructed.
While the title's meaning may seem obscure to potential readers, "poor" is being used in the sense of "mad" or "insane," and the title captures the climactic moment when Peter's father catches him violating Hutterite values by dancing with Tessa. Whether Peter, as he matures, will remain true to his people's traditions is left for readers to decide.
A concluding "About the author" note establishes Hofer's credentials for writing about Hutterites. Numerous Hutterite terms are incorporated into the story, and, while the meanings of most can eventually be deduced from context, a glossary would nevertheless have been useful. Because the juvenile characters on the cover look quite young, teachers and librarians may need to introduce this book to its intended audience.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.
Montréal, PQ: La Courte échelle, Serie Roman, 1996. 160pp., paper, $7.95.
Grades 8 - 12 / Ages 13 - 17.
Review by Kathleen Kellet-Betsos.
Le sexagénaire, pere de trois filles, bon pratiquant, membre de la Société des Croisés, des Chevaliers de Colomb et retraité de la fonction publique, cumulait en plus l'honneur, grâce à une blessure subie durant la guerre de Corée, d'être semi-pensioneé du ministere de la Défense. Alors, qu'allait-il faire à une heure du matin dans ce bar?
When an elderly man covered in flames staggers into a local bar, the door locks behind him. In the ensuing fire, two patrons die and some are injured. The bar owner, convinced that this is no simple case of arson, turns to a private investigation agency, and so the third novel in the series, Les Dossiers de Joseph E, by Quebec writer Guy Lavigne sets J.E. the task of solving the mystery. Initially, J.E. is mystified by all the unusual suspects and seemingly unnatural allies. What is the role of les Gardes de Saint-Michel, a conservative Catholic group against abortion, pornography, and general moral decay? How are they linked to le Collectif de la forteresse, a feminist group with whom les Gardes had joined to protest neighbourhood prostitution? And what is the role of the Comité pour le logement de l'Ilot-du-Faubourg, who are fighting to preserve their neighbourhood from being bulldozed and redeveloped with luxury condos? As J.E. discovers, someone is manipulating all these not so well-meaning reformers, and the real tale is one of greed and drug trafficking. J.E. is oddly relieved: "Cette affaire, qui au début se donnait des airs de sorcellerie ou d'incendiaire fou voulant jouer au héros, prenait maintenant des allures toute aussi sordides, mais beaucoup plus banales, d'histoire de trafic de drogues. Cela rassurait J.E. de se retrouver en terrain connu." The distance between sanctimonious "suckers" ("les poires"), ready to use violence for the presumed good of society, and ruthless criminals working for private profit is, in fact, slim.
Lavigne borrows all the cliches of the gumshoe genre: the gadgets, the police contacts, and the cynical but tender-hearted detective. Joseph E. is a former drinker, taciturn and given to melancholy. Despite himself, he is mildly homophobic, although apologetically so. In his leisure time, he enjoys reading the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud. He has a well-developed sense of humour:
"Quelqu'un d'autre appelait à la quincaillerie. J.E. se demanda si, cette fois, ce n'était pas un groupe de végétariens renégats prêts à faire sauter la boucherie du quartier."His language is colourful but not offensive, his favourite expletive being "bateche" (a variant of the more blasphemous "baptême"). He also invents expressions as needed: "Merlin de merde!" (43), "Ponce Pilate de merde!" (73). In short, he's a likeable fellow.
The novel's language is typically colloquial and often humourous. The title makes a pun on the double meanings of "poire" ("pear" or "sucker") and "quartier" ("neighbourhood" or "quarter"), suggesting "no neighbourhood for suckers" / "no quarter for suckers" and even a play on "pear quarters". Lavigne sometimes mixes rather dubious metaphors, as in this example:
La pleureuse, sur la galerie avant, croyait peut-être avoir atteint le fond de la fosse septique avec la mort de sa mère . . .In the dialogue, however, Lavigne captures the flavour of the Quebec vernacular along with a certain slang typical of crime novels.
Mais elle avait encore à subir toute la vérité à apprendre qui étaient vraiment son père et sa mère et dans quel genre d'activités ils trempaient. Les balles perdues, depuis longtemps tirées, s'élançaient inexorablement vers la fille et il n'y aurait aucune cachette assez profonde, aucun bunker assez épais pour la protéger.
Lavigne's novel will appeal to adolescent fans of mystery novels. Despite rather weak characterization, the plot is fairly tight, and the narration concise and often amusing. Also, the eminently debatable issue of the validity of using violence to achieve social reform is intriguing. As J.E. muses to himself: "Pauvre société qui avait un médecin pire que sa maladie."
Kathleen L. Kellett-Betsos teaches Quebecois and French-Canadian civilization and literature at Ryerson Polytechnic University.
Linda M. Clemente and William A. Clemente.
Toronto, ON: ECW Press, 1997.
202pp., paper, $14.95.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Carol Harvey.
And it happened, following a script right out of the movies: she arrived one afternoon at Lady Frances's and there he sat, a stranger across a crowded room, his dark eyes drawing her closer as Lady Wells shepherded her to his table, coincidentally intent on her meeting this someone really special. Surprised, undone, astonished, afraid it was all a dream, they remained speechless, gazing at each other, wonder-struck, magnetized, energized. Once on their own, the door of Lady Frances's home closed behind them, they walked fingers enlaced, in no particular direction. Romantic love, with all its irrational fears, anxieties, and joys, suddenly crowded everything else out of Gabrielle Roy's life.
The above is not an excerpt from a romantic novel, as one might imagine, but from Linda and Bill Clemente's biography of Gabrielle Roy [1909-1983]. Unlike the major six hundred page biography published last year in French by Francois Ricard, which is noteworthy for its sober, objective tone, the Clementes present an emotional and sometimes romantic account of Roy's life.
Gabrielle Roy is a famous Canadian author, whose first novel, Bonheur d'occasion [1945, translated into English as The Tin Flute], was an immediate success. It was followed by a dozen other books, including her autobiography and three children's books. She has been called "the English Canadians' favourite French Canadian," and is one of the few authors able to cross the gulf between the two solitudes. Her novels may be urban or rural; some are set in Montreal, others in the Prairies of her youth, and one book is set in the Canadian North. Another positive aspect is that her writing reflects the multicultural reality of Canada, with stories about Blacks, Italians, Chinese, Doukhobors, Ukrainians, etc. Given the scope of her writing, it is not surprising that Roy's novels and short stories are frequently included in high school curricula, either in the original French or in English translation.
For those students who read Roy's works and want some information about her life, the Clementes' illustrated biography will provide interesting background reading. However, it draws extensively on what Roy, herself, wrote or said: her autobiography, "Enchantment and Sorrow" , her letters to her sister, Bernadette, and interviews Roy published over the years. Consequently, the book often presents Roy's view of herself rather than an external assessment.
Another unusual feature of this biography is that it is not a straightforward chronological account of Roy's life. It starts with her decision, at age 28, to leave her home town of Saint Boniface, Manitoba, and her career as a teacher and focuses on the two years she then spent in France and England. Next, the book goes back over the childhood years and Roy's relationship with her parents and siblings. The concluding sections deal with her return from Europe to live in Montreal, her years as a journalist and her successful career as a writer. Although this mode of presentation leads to a certain amount of repetition, the factual information is well researched and accurate.
Interwoven throughout the Clementes' biography of Roy's life is consideration of her literature. In fact, many of the faces and places in Roy's fiction are drawn from her life: her early years growing up in Saint Boniface, the years she spent teaching in Manitoba during the Depression or discovering the poor neighbourhood of Saint-Henri in Montreal. One of the book's most interesting aspects is the attention the authors pay to documenting the links between life and art, or "memory" and "creation." Their explanations are couched in simple, clear language, devoid of the specialized terminology of literary criticism. The non-scholarly style is suitable for high school students though unfortunately it verges on the colloquial with the use of words such as "ho-hum," "Latin lovers," "savvy nun" or "breezed through."
All things considered, this is a readable and informative biography of Gabrielle Roy. Still, the inappropriate feature of the book's style and tone, evident in the excerpt and elsewhere, detracts from its purpose.
Recommended with reservations.
Carol Harvey, a Professor of French at the University of Winnipeg, has written extensively on Gabrielle Roy, including several articles and the book, Le cycle manitobain de Gabrielle Roy.
Suzanne Girard and Kathlene R. Willing.
Markham, ON: Pembroke Publishers, 1996. 128 pp., paper, $12.95.
Professional Grades 1 - 8.
Review by Brenda Partridge.
Partnerships for Classroom Learning addresses the need to educate students with a global perspective by presenting programs that are suited to changing schools, teachers and curriculum. To meet current educational goals, many teachers are now looking beyond their classrooms to establish communication connections for their students . . . these connections can be close at hand and readily available in a teacher's own school or community. But, without leaving the classrooom, teachers and students can also reach out to other parts of their country and the world.
Educators Suzanne Girard and Kathlene Willing have teamed together to create a handbook which demonstrates the ease with which teachers can "invite the world into their classroom and create new learning opportunities for all." The various strategies presented are designed to help children to "work cooperatively with others in their school and beyond." Projects and participants range from buddies within the school; to partners within the immediate community; to world penpals and to global twinning.
The book's four chapters, one for each of the above mentioned areas, each begin and end with journal entries from the educators who actually participated in the various activities. Numerous charts and planning webs quickly outline letters, tips, timelines and subject areas, and permission is given to reproduce many of the charts for classroom use.
Chapter content follows a consistent pattern. Initially, each outlines the type of partnership involved and then moves into the methods of reaching out, organizational planning, curriculum planning, and sample time-lines. With teachers' hectic timetables, such organization allows easy access to pertinent areas and reduces the amount of unnecessary reading.
While the inclusion of some Internet addresses as resources for groups who want to become involved in Internet projects beyond their schools would have improved Partnerships for Classroom Learning, all in all, it's an excellent resource for professional use.
Brenda Partridge is a teacher/librarian at Percy Centennial P.S.E in Warkworth, Ontario.
Review by Kevin W. Doyle.
Reprinted from the EdRes mailing list.
This is a very minimalist site. It has obviously been designed with the purpose of being a repository of ADD related information rather than a site to be surfed for entertainment. The site is merely a collection of information pulled from various sources and housed under one roof.
There are no graphics or sound files; it is simply black text on a grey background. A plain site, but very easy to read. There is a link to each text file on the left hand side of the page, and then up to a paragraph describing the text link contents. There is no way to return to the homepage after exploring a link except for using the back function of your browser. This makes navigation a little more inconvenient than it needs to be.
Steven J. Foust controls the site which was last updated on November 29th, 1995. The site has 21 links on it as well as the ability to send e-mail to Foust by clicking on his name.
The links themselves have cryptic names which make it difficult to remember exactly what is contained in each link. You are forced to read the descriptions to the right of the page. Some of the more interesting for teachers are:
Perhaps the biggest surprise and best link on the site is stein.txt. It is the first draft of a book by Barbara Stein called "ADD Made Easy!" In addition to tips and strategies this well written, entertaining book is laced with concrete examples and a strong narrative which is very upbeat. It talks about how to help an ADD child cope in family situations and not just in the classroom. The entire text of the book is made available.
Since this site is not about a content area but rather a medical condition it has relevance for all teachers. ADD children are in every school and with more and more being diagnosed, it is a problem that is not going away or one that can be ignored. All educators are expected to be able to deal with an ADD child and this website is a good starting place for obtaining information. I found its many practical tips and theoretical background to be highly enlightening. A good site to go for quick information.
This website does have some shortcomings. There is too much repetition among the links and not enough cohesion. Better editing would take care of this. It also has not been updated in 14 months so anyone looking for the very latest in treatments or research would have to look elsewhere. Navigation around the site is also clumsy and there are no links to other ADD pages. This being said, the site does have a good mix of practical and theoretical information. Despite its heavy American bias it does answer many questions and covers a wide spectrum of ADD issues. The impression I am left with after reviewing this site is that it was created by someone unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the web. With the exception of the FAQs all the information was taken from books or other printed sources and merely transcribed onto the site. The site doesn't reach its full potential. The poor navigation, lack of graphics and lack of sounds means that the page does not fully exploit the medium. It doesn't detract from the valuable information but it could have been so much more.
Review by Cathy Steeves.
Reprinted from the EdRes mailing list.
The Canadian National Earthquake Hazard Program is an informative site produced by the Canadian National Seismograph Network. A tremendous amount of valuable and current information on earthquakes is available for both science and social studies teachers (Note: the site can also be accessed in French). This site concentrates on Canadian earthquake activity but also offers easy access to information about earthquake activity around the world.
The site is structured into the following sections:
The "Questions and Answers" section would is a great classroom activity resource. Here you can find a variety of fun questions that will increase knowledge, awareness, and survival skills during an earthquake.
In the "Nuclear Test Ban Monitoring System" section difficult words are highlighted, with hypertext links to definitions. The "Safe Guard" link increases public awareness regarding emergency preparedness.
The "Seismological Data," "Earthquake Reports" and "National Earthquake Database" sections allow the user to explore and research specific areas of earthquake activity. For example, you can request data for all earthquakes in southern British Columbia between June and July of 1980 with a magnitude greater than four. These links are easy to navigate and examples are given to help the user perform searches successfully. Links to maps, damage and injury reports are also given. This type of information makes learning more interesting and fun.
The "CNSN Hourly Plots" section is a bit more complex. The graphics are interesting but are not explained. It assumes that the user has prior knowledge of the subject.
I really liked this site and I enjoyed exploring it. A variety of colours and fonts are used and the material is organized in a simple and coherent manner. The first thing that struck me was the initial graphic for the site. At the top of the page there is a colorful map of Canada. Often when Canadians think of earthquakes or any sort of natural disaster our minds shift to other places in the world. This design reiterates the idea that such disasters do occur in our own country.
This site is full of useful information and encourages further learning as it provides opportunities for the user to find out more. For example, a link to the University of Washington allows the user to access information about seismology from around the world. There is also a link to an Automatic Data Request Manager. This tool permits the user to send an e-mail message requesting specific earthquake facts. The automatic manager sorts the information and sends relevant data back to the user. A link that gives suggestions for other materials and resources that can be used to increase a person's knowledge is also provided. Lastly, there is a link to the home page of the Geological Survey of Canada, where further research can be done.
This site would be a definite asset to a social studies or science teacher as it makes learning fun. The visuals that are provided in the site are extremely helpful. They allow the user to see exactly where earthquakes are occurring. The information within the site is continually updated which makes the statistical data very reliable. Unlike a textbook, this web site is a reference in perpetual present tense because it is in a state of constant change and renewal. I highly recommend this web site!
Review by Mary Marshall.
Reprinted from the EdRes mailing list.
The Complete Works of Shakespeare web site is an extremely comprehensive site produced by Jeremy Hylton. This site is a tremendous resource for teachers, students and Shakespeare enthusiasts.
The site's home page users features a picture of "The Immortal Bard" along with a clearly laid out table of contents with the following eight links:
The "Shakespeare Discussion Area" is, in my opinion, one of the most useful and interesting features at this site. The works discussed in this section are again separated into lists by category (ie. comedy, tragedy). Clicking on a title accesses a main page where discussion of the particular work begins. These main pages provide helpful links to the actual text of the work under discussion. With hundreds of messages in this discussion area, this format efficiently helps users find personally relevant discussions.
Links providing users with chronological and alphabetical listings of plays are valuable resources for students and teachers. The list of resources in the "Shakespeare Resources on the Internet" section is impressive in its variety. Resources include other net versions of the collected works of Shakespeare, university course web sites, and databases for Shakespeare works on film and Shakespeare festivals!
If you're looking for wild colors and neat graphics, this site is not for you. However, the simple and coherent organization of vast amounts of information on this site compensate for the lack of flash. For example, the table of titles listed by category makes locating a specific work very easy and allows users to quickly link to any of Shakespeare's works directly from the home page. Each work is complete. The texts of the individual plays offer helpful links to lists of characters as well as links to individual scenes within each act.
Another helpful feature is the ability to click on highlighted words within these texts to link directly to the site's glossary; a very helpful feature when reading Shakespeare. There is however a weakness on this site as its glossary does not always provide the correct definition of a word according to its context.
The well organized format and excellent content of this site makes it an extremely useful tool for the English/Language Arts classroom. The research and learning opportunities presented by the list of internet resources are endless. Having any of Shakespeare's works available at the click of a mouse is certainly advantageous for students and teachers. Even more significant is the chance to discuss these works in an open forum. Getting students involved in these discussions can promote creative and independent thinking as students learn that their opinions are just as valuable as their teachers'. Interesting ideas from the site can also be made the subjects of lively classroom debates. The discussion skills learned from this site could promote more active, interactive and student-centered ways of learning.
"The Canadian Children's Book Centre helps the creative talent of Canada - the writers, the illustrators - reach the people who count: the readers. An investment in The Canadian Children's Book Centre is an investment in your child's future as a Canadian."A national, non-profit organization, the Canadian Children's Book Centre was founded in 1976 to support the Canadian children's publishing industry. The CCBC's mandate is to promote and encourage the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian children's books. The Centre is dedicated to the goal of introducing children to books and the pleasures of reading. The CCBC is recognized by federal and provincial funders as the essential source for information about Canadian children's books. The National Office is in Toronto with regional offices in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. Members include nearly 300 Canadian publishers, bookstores, libraries and schools as well as over 1,000 individual members. Members benefit from the Centre's promotional work, its educational and awareness programs, the professional development opportunities it offers and from its research and resource facilities.
For more information about The Canadian Children's Book Centre and the work that we do, take a look at our web site at http://www.lglobal.com/~ccbc. You can also write to us for more information at:
The Canadian Children's Book Centre
35 Spadina Rd.
By Brian John Busby
Reprinted from Children's Book News a publication of the Canadian Children's Book Centre.
IT IS NO COINCIDENCE THAT the growth of a strong and vibrant West Coast publishing industry has brought with it a collection of British Columbia children's books that have won awards across the country. Twenty-five years ago, the number of B.C. children's books was an extremely small one, mirroring that of B.C. publishers.The reason Howard White, head of Harbour Publishing, gives for entering the children's book market is a common one. "Originally, I felt there was a need for children's books dealing with the West Coast," he says. In 1983, the press published its first title for children, a picture book entitled A Whale Named Henry. Over two dozen have followed, most noticeably Anne Cameron's series of West Coast legends. Like her writing for adults, these illustrated books have been both critically and commercially successful. Although it has been two years since Harbour's last children's book, White sees this as an "unusual gap"; indeed, over the coming years he expects Harbour's percentage of children's titles to increase from the current 20 per cent. Another publisher intending to concentrate more on children's titles is Whitecap Books, B.C.'s second largest book publisher - after Douglas & Mclntyre (whose own successful children's line Groundwood Books is based in Toronto). Roughly half of Whitecap's children's titles are nature books by Diane Swanson. Lavishly illustrated, these books have proven popular in both the home and classroom. Co-publishing has allowed for expensive productions that might otherwise not be possible given the size of the Canadian market. Although Whitecap has yet to release a work of children's fiction, publisher Colleen Macmillan is currently considering the idea of expanding into this area. Perhaps the best-known B.C. publisher of children's books is Victoria's Orca Book Publishers. Founded in 1984, it wasn't until the '90s that Orca produced its first children's title. Since that time, books like Waiting for the Whales and Siwiti - A Whale's Story have won Orca an impressive collection of awards and accolades. According to publisher Bob Tyrrell, children's books make up 50 per cent or more of their titles - a number he feels will only increase. Four of the seven new titles published by Orca this past fall were children's books; and the list included established names like Ann Blades and William Bell. Polestar Book Publishers, an eclectic press publishing first fiction, hockey books and award winning poetry titles, has achieved considerable success with its children's list. Dreamcatcher, a young adult novel by Meredy Maynard, was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, while Ellen Schwartz's Starshine series, detailing the adventures of an overly-active 10-year-old, has gone through several printings. Although the press has published picture books, in recent years Polestar has concentrated solely on young adult titles. Its most recent children's book, One in a Million by Nicholas Read, helped launch Sirius, a new imprint focussing exclusively on dog books. Currently celebrating its 25th year, Beach Holme continues to add to its list of children's titles. The publisher entered the children's market in the early '80s with a series of picture books. However, for the past ten years, it has devoted its children's list to regional historical young adult fiction. Perhaps the most popular of these books is Julie Lawson's White Jade Tiger. A story of time travel, set primarily in Victoria's Chinatown of the 1880s, the book received the 1993 Sheila A. Egoff Award for Children's Literature. The press has prepared a practical guide to White Jade Tiger for teachers, librarians and home-schoolers that has seen use across the country. Another publisher with considerable success in the educational market is Theytus Books. The press has the distinction of being the first Canadian publishers under First Nation ownership and control. During its 16 year history, Theytus has published more than 30 books, a third of which are children's titles. Jeanette Armstrong's Enwhisteetkwa is a good example of the work Theytus publishes. Illustrated by the author, Enwhisteetkwa provides a view of what life might have been like for a young West Coast child in the middle of the last century. Other Theytus children's titles deal with legends, First Nations history and the environment. Publishers since 1971, Pacific Educational Press is a department of the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Education. As such, part of its mandate is to publish books for children as well as educational material for parents, teachers and librarians. Non-fiction titles have dealt with such topics as multiculturalism, self-esteem, forestry and the environment. One of Pacific Educational's greatest accomplishments to date is the Queen Charlotte Islands Series, a collection of 13 picture books written in collaboration with Haida people. The series covers Haida art, lifestyles, tradition and the islands themselves in an informative, yet entertaining, manner. Throughout this past decade, under director Catherine Edwards, the press has moved much of its focus to young adult fiction. The Golden Rose, Dayle Campbell Gaetz's story of a l9th-century immigrant family's attempt to establish a farm in B.C., is a recent example of the press's output. While B.C. publishers are not immune to the difficult atmosphere of shrinking government grants and rising production costs experienced throughout the country, the presses are healthy. They are maintaining the number of children's titles they publish, and, even more encouraging, some are seeking to expand their children's lists. Brian John Busby is co-editor of Classics Canada and Contemporary Canada, a series of ESL textbooks incorporating poetry, prose and drama. He is currently researching a book on Black Canadian writing.
From the NOVAE GROUP Teachers Networking for the Future
Created by Wayne Daniels and his colleagues at the Metro Toronto Reference Library, Expanding Universe: a classified search tool for amateur astronomy is an index of astronomy hotlinks that is organized like a library. A modified form of the Dewey Classification has produced a set of virtual library shelves whose "books" can be browsed by pointing to each in turn. Including the Dewey number in each of the URLs within the site has created a file structure that reproduces the subject hierarchy of Dewey. This allows users to travel deep into the site without losing their way. Alternatively, users can get keyword access through an index of terms taken from the headings. As in a library, once you find the right shelf you are in your subject area.
This prototype site is a considerable improvement on wading through search engine results or scanning loosely organized lists of links. The possibility of producing subject gateways for secondary school students that will provide large, ordered collocations of Net resources for curriculum purposes is also being investigated. Time will be saved for both teachers and students by having librarians selecting and ordering information. The next application will provide enhanced keyword access, amongst other things.
From the NBNSOFT Content Awards Ejournal
It aspires to be the definitive guide to reference material on the Internet, and includes many great features, including Roget's Thesaurus, Bartlett's Quotations, Webster's Unabridged Dictionary and Strunk's classic Elements of Style.
Just by taking one look at this site you'll find that it's brought together the best of the web dictionary sites for easy searching. Or you can use the links to the actual sites.
Few things are as frustrating as having a word in German and not knowing what it means in English. Or French. This site features many translating dictionaries, including German, Dutch, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Portuguese, Afrikaans and Esperanto. Each will translate words into English and many other combinations.
This program can be used to identify the language of origin of a phrase, word or sentence. Submit the words of your choosing and the list will be returned reordered, with the most likely choice at the top of the list.
1. BLISS CARMAN POETRY AWARD
Deadline: June 30, 1997 (postmarked).
Judge: Dennis Cooley.
Up to 3 poems (no more than 30 lines each) per entry.
Entry fee: $24*
Sponsored in partnership with The Banff Centre for the Arts who will award a jeweller-cast replica of Bliss Carman's turquoise and silver ring to the first prize winner.
1st prize $500, 2nd prize $200, 3rd prize $100.
423-100 Arthur Street
Phone: (204) 943-9066
Fax: (204) 942-1555
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Young adults arrive, almost overnight, onto the threshold of a strange new world of exhilarating and frightening pressures. Much as they sometimes wish, there is no return to the more familiar place they have just left. And they must struggle, often feeling completely alone, along this upward twisting passage of life carrying their child-size cache of experience-out-of-sync with the heavy baggage of an unfamiliar adult body.
Once we live through an experience, we are awarded an aerial view of it. As adults, we can look back at the panorama of our adolescence. We are able to see the times our choices were right, and the times they went horribly wrong. We are able to examine, with perhaps relief and perhaps regret, the unchosen paths. Young adults do not yet have this aerial view. And it is partly for this reason that they may be the most demanding audience to write for. They command respect and dignity. They will not tolerate condescension or moralizing. As adult writers for young people, we are the ones on trial. We are the ones who must prove ourselves worthy in order to be trusted enough to be read by them.
The work sought for this issue is not that of personal nostalgia, but rather fresh, powerful new writing. We will consider unsolicited submissions of short and (excerpted) long fiction. No poetry, please. Contributors will be paid. Submissions must be postmarked no later than October 31, 1997, and must be accompanied by a self addrressed stamped envelope. Maximum length 4,500 words. Guidelines and rates are available with a self addressed stamped envelope.
Guest Editor: Linda Holeman
423-100 Arthur Street
Phone: (204) 943-9066
Fax: (204) 942-1555
The Manitoba Library Association
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