CM . . . . Volume III Number 2 . . . . September 20, 1996

Table of Contents

Volume III Number 2
September 20, 1996

Book Reviews

cdnMy Arctic 1,2,3
Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak. Illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka.
Review by Naomi Gerrard.
Grades preschool - 2 / Ages 3 - 7.

cdnWild Cats - Cougars, Bobcats and Lynx.
Deborah Hodge. Edited by Valerie Wyatt. Illustrated by Nancy Grey Ogle.
Review by Joan Payzant.
Grades preschool - 4 / Ages 4 - 10.

cdnHave You Seen Bugs?
Joanne Oppenheim. Illustrated by Ron Broda.
Review by Naomi Gerrard.
Grades K - 2 / Ages 3 - 7.

cdnThe Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real.
Margery Williams. Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Grades K - 4 / Ages 4 - 10.

cdnMelody Mooner Takes Lessons.
Frank B. Edwards. Illustrated by John Bianchi.
Review by Brian Rountree.
Grades K - 4 / Ages 5 - 9.

cdnI Can Make Costumes.
Mary Wallace.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 12.

cdnThe Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart.
Barbara Kathleen Nickel. Edited by Rhea Tregebov.
Review by Joan Payzant.
Grades 4 - 7 / Ages 10 - 13.

cdnHow Can a Frozen Detective Stay Hot on the Trail?
Linda Bailey.
Review by Irene Gordon.
Grades 4 - 8 / Ages 9 - 12.

cdnNorthwest Territories
Richard W. Daitch.
Review by Brian Rountree.
Grades 4 - 8 / Ages 10 - 14.

cdnSing Like A Hermit Thrush.
Richard G. Green.
Review by Joan Payzant.
Grades 4 - 9 / Ages 10 - 14.

cdnAfter the War.
Carol Matas.
Review by Ian Stewart.
Grades 7 - 9 / Ages 12 - 15.

cdnThru the Smoky End Boards, Canadian Poetry about Sports and Games.
Edited by Kevin Brooks and Sean Brooks.
Review by Rory Runnells.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 16 and up.

On the Bookshelf

cdn The Dark Garden.
Margaret Buffie.
Kids Can Press.

cdn How Can A Frozen Detective Stay Hot on the Trail?
Linda Bailey
Kids Can Press.

cdn Glory Days
Gillian Chan.
Kids Can Press.

CD-ROM Review

cdnBeyond the Sambatyon: The Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes.
Creative Multimedia.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Grades 5 - 10 / Ages 11 - 15.

From the Archive

cdn 1986 Notable Canadian Children's Fiction
Feature story by Judith Saltman.
Originally published 1988.

cdn The Blue Jean Collection
Edited by Peter Carver
Book review by Joyce Brown.
Originally published May/June 1994.

cdn Wanderer's First Summer
Janice Erbach.
Book review by Joan Payzant.
Originally published October 1992.

C-EdRes Web Site Reviews

INTNickNacks: Learning Together Around the World.
Review by Nancy Schubert.

cdnCMARGIN Notes
Review by Will Sanford.

Review by Gilles Bourque.


cdn Notable Canadian Videos Part II.
Reviews by Lorrie Andersen.

In the Mailbox

int Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense
Letter from Aron Trauring.

Book Review

My Arctic 1,2,3.

Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak. Illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka.
Toronto: Annick Press Ltd., 1996. 24pp. softcover, $6.95. hardcover $16.95.
ISBN 1-55037-505-9 (hardcover), 1-55037-504-0 (softcover)

Grades preschool - 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
Review by Naomi Gerrard.



"esker - a long, narrow ridge of gravel that was formed by a retreating glacier."
Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak draws on his Inuit experiences to weave a fascinating tale introducing us to the daily life of Repulse Bay in the Arctic.

A counting book, we meet and count some of the animals Kusugak and his family watch in the Arctic. The illustrations add a wealth of information about the habitat, the inhabitants, and the colours of the region.


"One polar bear walks along the huge floe edge on the Hudson Bay. What do they hunt? Seals...

Two ringed seals are sunning themselves on the sea ice during the long spring day.

Ten lemmings scurry among the dwarf willows.
A pack of twenty wolves catch a scent in the air..........
A herd of one hundred caribou migrates in spring.
Millions of berries ripen in the fall...."

These pages of counting progress through to number 10 then jump to 20, then 100 then 1,000,000 and back to "One lone polar bear walks along the shore, thinking of seals." These pages of counting are followed with 4 pages of tales about the Arctic world of Michael Kusugak and his family watching the animals we'd just counted. These are illustrated with delightful black and white ink drawings.

"Lemmings are little, furry animals with short, skinny, furry tails. Inninajuk caught one and put it in a cage. It had three little ones. The little lemmings had no fur when they were born. We let them go when they could walk. They were smelly."
The book is well thought out, colourful and imaginative, giving us a glimpse of life in the vast Arctic. The language is age appropriate with a glossary on the last page.


Naomi Gerrard has a fascination with children's literature, is a reviewer for the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award and a member of CANSCAIP.

Book Review

Wild Cats - Cougars, Bobcats and Lynx.

Deborah Hodge. Edited by Valerie Wyatt. Illustrated by Nancy Grey Ogle.
Toronto, Ontario: Kids Can Press Ltd. 1996. 32 pp., hard cover, $14.95.
ISBN 1-55074-267-1 CIP.

Grades preschool - 4 / Ages 4 - 10.
Review by Joan Payzant.



"Wild cats try to live far away from people. But people move into wild areas and disturb the home ranges of wild cats.

People clear forests to build new houses and roads, so the wild animals who live there must move. The deer move to find food, so the cougars must follow. The lynx must follow the snowshoe hare. If there is no place to go, the animals die.

As wild areas get smaller, there are fewer places for wild cats to live."

This is an attractive book on a subject that will fascinate many children. As a teacher/librarian I found that non-fiction picture books were extremely popular with boys in their early school years. Wild Cats falls into this category.

Every page is generously illustrated with text in large clear type fitted around the pictures. The table of contents lists a different subject for each two facing pages, i.e. Wild cats, Kinds of wild cats, Where wild cats live, and so on. Most of the two-page spreads have a box in the top right-hand corner which contains a "Wild Cat Fact" such as: "Wild cats don't chew their meat. They slice off pieces with their sharp teeth and swallow them whole."

The differences among cougars, bobcats and lynxes are clearly explained by text and illustrations. The book also contains illustrations of wild cats of the world, as opposed to previously discussed North American wild cats. It concludes with a glossary and detailed index.

Other books in this Kids Can Press Wildlife Series are: Bears, Whales, and Wild Dogs, with others promised for the future.

Highly Recommended

Joan Payzant is a retired teacher/librarian living in Dartmouth, N.S.

Book Review

Have You Seen Bugs?

Joanne Oppenheim. Illustrated by Ron Broda.
Richmond Hill, Ontario: North Winds Press, 1996. 32pp. paper, $16.99
ISBN 0-590-24322-5.

Grades preschool - 2 / Ages 4 - 7.
Review by Naomi Gerrard



"Have you seen bugs?
Itty-bitty bugs small as specks of sand,
wide-winged bugs bigger than your hand.
Bugs with stripes or speckles or spots,
shiny like metal or covered with dots.
Iridescent bugs that shimmer in the light,
winking, blinking bugs that twinkle in the night.
Dark as bark, green as grass, see-through bugs with wings like glass."

Even though the paper sculpted male African moon moth on the front cover looks like a creature from outer space inviting attention, this is a fascinating book for bug lovers; and, perhaps even for those who dislike bugs. It is illustrated with incredible, three-dimensional paper sculptures of bugs; iridescent, winking, blinking, shimmering and twinkling. They are everywhere: playing hide-and-seek, "shaped like thorns or sticks or leaves", long legged or having thousands of legs, fluttering, scurrying, diving, buzzing, swimming under water, skimming over water. The book is full of bug lingo, imagery, colour, names, and the sounds of bugs, including a comparison between bugs and insects.

The layout of the book is attractive, full of activities allowing one to take a big breath and touch the bugs on these pages without hesitation or fear. The narrative is well planned, descriptive and rhythmic using age appropriate language.


Naomi Gerrard has been fascinated with children's literature for years, is a reviewer for the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award and a member of CANSCAIP.

Book Review

The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real.

Margery Williams. Illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith.
Toronto: Key Porter Books, 1996. 32pp. hardcover, $18.95.

Grades K - 4 / Ages 4 - 10.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.


This is a reissue of the beautiful children's classic by Margery Williams, first published in 1922. This is a distinctly dated, British, upper-class story, but it endures, because it is told from the perspective of the toy rabbit. Children, whose imaginations anthropomorphize their toys, find great joy in stories where the stuffed animals think and display personalities. The modern-day comparison is Corduroy, the teddy bear created by Don Freeman, who lives in a tenement apartment in New York.

Grahame Baker-Smith has illlustrated this story in a style that uses the detail of an adult eye and the simplicity of a child's perspective. The setting is a British manor house in the 1920's, complete with the heavily flowered draperies, nurseries, fireplaces and elaborate lawns. The paintings are realistic, but have a shadowy quality to evoke the past. The people are drawn in an angular way, with little detail in their faces. The rabbit's face is always expressionless, but his blank look somehow manages to convey whatever emotion he is described as feeling. The colours are deep and heavy, as were the furnishings in that period. Light radiates from the rabbit at the important moments, such as when the boy makes him Real, and when the nursery magic Fairy turns him into a Real Rabbit. The illustration of the rabbit at the depths of sorrow, with a single tear falling from his eye as he lays abandoned in a sack in the garden in the dead of night, is particularly effective.

The illustrations are organized on the page in groups of 3, 4 and 6, comic-book-style on large pages of this hardcover edition, so that the story flows quickly in front of the reader.


Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.

Book Review

Melody Mooner Takes Lessons.

Frank B. Edwards. Illustrated by John Bianchi.
Kingston: Bungalo Books, 1996. paper, $4.95.
ISBN 0-921285-46-9.

Grades K - 4 / Ages 5 - 9.
Review by Brian Rountree.


Here is a new story about Melody who decides that she wants to take lessons and "be good at something special." So she begins in January and each month tries new indoor or outdoor activities. October proves to be the month where Melody finds something special which she can do and she practises into December.

The illustrations of John Bianchi are large, crisp and focussed upon Melody and her activities. Above the text is a calendar page which includes a picture of Melody being a 'star' for that month's activity, while the facing page shows her true reactions.

Young children are always on the go and Melody is no exception. She has the curiosity and enthusiasm which carry children through lots of things in just one day. Melody's search lends itself to discussions about sports (can you name them all?) and calendars (is it possible to figure out what year this story takes place?).

Edwards and Bianchi have created another delightful addition to their Bungalo Books world, one which will surely be enjoyed by all who read the stories.


Brian Rountree is the teacher-librarian at Eastwood Elementary School in Thompson, Manitoba. He is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian School Library Association.

Book Review

I Can Make Costumes.

Mary Wallace.
Toronto: Owl Communications, 1996. 32pp. paper, $6.95. hardcover $17.95.
ISBN softcover 1-895688-47-7, hardcover 1-895688-46-9.

Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 12.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.


The author of the very popular How to Make Great Stuff for Your Room (Grey de Pencier, 1992) and other titles in the I Can Make series continues to show kids how to make great gear. From things collected around the house you can learn how to make:

These nifty ideas are accompanied by clear full colour photographs, a supply list and simple instructions. While the ideas in this book are not as flamboyant as those found in Jane Asher's Costume Book (Open Chain, 1991), it is highly recommended - especially for collections needing more costume materials for Halloween and dramatic arts.

Highly Recommended

Lorraine Douglas is the Youth Services Coordinator for the Winnipeg Public Library.

Book Review

The Secret Wish of Nannerl Mozart.

Barbara Kathleen Nickel. Edited by Rhea Tregebov.
Toronto: Second Story Press, 1996. 202 pp, paper, $6.95.
ISBN 0-929005-89-9 CIP.

Grades 4 - 7 / Ages 10 - 13.
Review by Joan Payzant.



"After everybody had said goodnight and wished each other Merry Christmas, Nannerl crept out from underneath the covers and sat on the floor. She lit her fattest candle and fished under the bed for her symphony and the manuscript paper she had pinched from the stack Papa kept with the music books. Then she dipped her pen in ink and began to copy. . . . After a few hours she looked with satisfaction at five neatly copied parts; the flute, the two violin parts, the viola, the cello and the clavier. She yawned and lit a new candle and began on the organ part."

In this book Barbara Kathleen Nickel has accomplished the difficult task of blending her extensive research material into the life of Nannerl Mozart (much of which was in the original German) with fictional touches, producing an appealing biography for young readers. A family celebration for twelve-year old Nannerl begins the story telling of her birthday wish before blowing out her candles. In addition to the usual requests of young girls, Nannerl wants to be "the most famous composer in the whole world!" As the daughter of Leopold Mozart and older sister of Wolfgang, her wish is not as impossible as it might seem. Nannerl works tirelessly to make it come true.

There follows an account of part of the Mozart family's grand three-year tour of Europe. Anecdotes of travel difficulties, people encountered on their route, performances given by Nannerl and Wolfgang, letters from friends back home in Salzburg, and excerpts from Nannerl's diary lighten the account of their journey. Throughout all, Nannerl works on her composition, in spite of the demands on her time to help her mother. In the end, despite all odds she triumphs at a grand concert in the Palace of Versailles. Complete with author's note, chronology, glossary and list of sources, this book is highly recommended. It will have special appeal for young musicians.

Highly Recommended

Joan Payzant is a retired teacher/librarian living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Book Review

How Can a Frozen Detective Stay Hot on the Trail?

Linda Bailey.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1996. 163pp. paper, $4.95.
ISBN 1-55074-321-X.

Grades 4 - 8 / Ages 9 - 12.
Review by Irene Gordon.


This book is the fourth in the Stevie Diamond Mystery Series of humorous mysteries for upper elementary and middle years students. The heroine Stevie and her friend Jesse go from their homes in Vancouver to spend New Year's with Jesse's grandmother and 16 year old uncle in Winnipeg. Prairie readers (including adults) will enjoy Vancouver-born Stevie's introduction to typical Winnipeg winter weather.

Ever since Jesse and I had started planning this trip, my mom had been driving me nuts. You wouldn't believe the stuff she dragged out of the closet--moth-eaten scarves, scratchy wool socks, even red underwear. You'd think I was going to the North Pole......The jacket was this old-lady ski jacket, stuffed full of goose feathers.

My mom had insisted on packing it in my suitcase, but I'd managed to dump it in the back of the car on the way to the airport. I'd also unloaded a few other things, including the Frankenstein boots. They were made of heavy rubber lined with thick felt and were so wide they were practically square. When I walked around the kitchen in them, I clunked.....(As they step out of the Winnipeg airport into -30 degree weather) C-C-C-C-COOOOLLLLD!!!!! I gasped. Tried to gasp. Like breathing ice...Freezing blast on face, chest legs...Hair lifted by icy, shrieking wind...Dragged though whirling, biting snow. Icy needles stabbing cheeks. Freezing gusts howling through armpits.

Jesse's uncle Misha belongs to a horticultural club for people who raise carnivorous plants. When the club has its best plants stolen, Misha is blamed for stealing them. Because Jesse has been boasting to his grandmother about what a good detective he is (conveniently omitting the role Stevie played), his grandmother is certain he can clear Misha by finding out who really stole the plants.

Mystery fans should enjoy the situations Stevie and Jesse get into while solving the mystery, including the obligatory " lost in a blizzard scene". The descriptions of the carnivorous plants and squeamish vegetarian Jesse's reaction to them should appeal to almost all pre-teens .

I would highly recommend this book for all elementary and junior high (middle) school libraries and children's collections in public libraries.

Highly Recommended

Irene Gordon is a teacher-librarian at Westdale Junior High School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and currently co-editor of the MSLA JOURNAL published by the Manitoba School Library Association.

Book Review

Northwest Territories.

Richard W. Daitch.
Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company. (Series: Hello Canada.), 1996. 72 pp., cloth. $24.99.
ISBN 0-8225-2761-8

Grades 4 - 8 / Ages 10 - 14.
Review by Brian Rountree.


Here is a readable and enjoyable book about that part of Canada which is "North of 60."

In just 72 pages Hancock presents important and useful information about the land, the history, the economy and the people of this region. There are several maps which clearly indicate the placement of the Northwest Territories and show the major towns. There are many colour photographs which brilliantly portray life on the land. By the use of drawings and old black and white photographs we catch a glimpse of the history of the area.

There is a section on "Famous people from the Northwest Territories" which includes Georges Erasmus and the artists Kenojuak Ashevak and Pitseolak Ashoona. Included in the book is a section of Fast Facts, a Timeline and a small pronunciation guide for words found in the book. The glossary and index provide valuable assistance for the young researcher.

Northwest Territories includes all the area currently marked on maps under that name. There is a mention on page 38 of the separation in 1999 of the eastern area which will be called Nunavut, and is the subject of another book in this series.

The author's biography tells us that Daitch has lived in Canada since the ealy 1970s and now lives in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories with his wife and two daughters.


Brian Rountree is the teacher-librarian at Eastwood Elementary School in Thompson, Manitoba. He is the Archivist for the Manitoba School Library Association.

Book Review

Sing Like A Hermit Thrush.

Richard G. Green.
Ohsweken, Ontario: Ricara Features, 1995. 132 pp., paper, $12.95
ISBN 0-911737-01-4.

Grades 4 - 9 / Ages 10 - 14.
Review by Joan Payzant.



" "Like today. I knew I was going to hit a home run and win the game."

"How'd you know that?"

Darrin pulled out his rabbit's foot. "Because HE tells me." He handed the rabbit's foot to Totah. "When something's gonna happen he gets kinda warm."

Totah felt the rabbit's foot and dangled it. "It don't feel warm to me," he said.

"It's not warm now because nothing's gonna happen now."

Totah gave Darrin the rabbit's foot. "I used to know a seer once," he said. "Long time ago." He picked up his cup and took a drink. "Maybe you should go down to the river and see Truman Cloud. He's in atohwitshera* and knows about orenda.**"

" * atohwitshera = The Society of Faces
** orenda = spiritual power

Richard G. Green has previously written for New World Indians publications, and has published a book, "The Last Raven and Other Stories". "Sing, Like a Hermit Thrush" will appeal to boys, especially those who live on Indian Reservations, familiarly referred to as the "Rez" by Darrin, chief character in the story. The cover of the book is attractive with an imaginative painting by artist Raymond Skye of a realistic eagle soaring into the sky with a hermit thrush on its back, and Darrin clinging to its legs.

Darrin has visions or dreams that give him the power to see into the future. This puzzles and upsets him until he comes to terms with it through talking to his grandfather (see excerpt) and Truman Cloud. He is helped over another hurdle in his life when Fox teaches him to defend himself against the bully, Arley.

Perhaps this reviewer, as an older woman, is too critical. I found some of the language offensive and the story did not flow well. Why is Darrin's last name, Captain, never mentioned until it is called out at a baseball game? Then Darrin, thinking the coach is calling him, mistakenly answers, when in reality the coach is calling for the Captain of the team. The incident falls flat because the reader has not learned up to this point in the story that Darrin's last name is Captain.

What happened to Darren's parents? They are mentioned early in the story, but never appear again. Why does he live with his cousin Brenda?

On a positive note, Mohawk words are scattered throughout the book which is rather intriguing since a glossary or "ohenton" at the front of the book gives English translations. The celebrations at an Indian wedding, a pow-wow, and costumes for Indian dancers are described adding further insights into life on a Reservation.

Because of the language, and the above inconsistencies I would recommend this story with lower case "r" reservations for selected readers only.

Recommended with reservations.

Joan Payzant is a retired teacher/librarian living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Book Review

After the War.

Carol Matas.
Toronto: Scholastic Canada Ltd.,1996. 144 pages, hardcover, $16.99
ISBN 0-590-24758-1.

Grades 7 - 9 / Ages 12 - 15.
Review by Ian Stewart



I creep from behind the couch and move to the window. The crowd is beating some of the occupants of the house, using bricks, sticks, or stabbing them over and over with knives, all the time screaming, "murdering Jews, filthy Communists, child killers...."

Finally the mob disperses and the soldiers come in. We move the wounded to mattresses on the floor that aren't ripped or blood soaked....

There is nowhere that is safe. But somehow I've survived again. I don't know how to stop.

After the War is Carol Matas's fictional account of Ruth Mendenberg, a fifteen year old Holocaust survivor, who finds personal self-renewal in the courage and love of the Jewish people. After the War is also a fact based account of the great post-World War II Jewish migration to Eretz Israel, the land of Israel.

Ruth's days and nights are haunted by the memories of life and death in the camps. At times she wonders if the ashes of her mother and sister drifted down from the chimneys of the Auschwitz crematoria onto her, as she was marched off to the slave labour camps. Although alive, Ruth's soul and spirit are mere ashes: she has been psychologically destroyed in the crucible of Nazism's burnt offerings. She believes that love and happiness can no longer exist for her. After what she has seen and experienced, survival is more of a punishment than a blessing.

After her release from the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz, Ruth returns home to the Polish town of Kielce. She hoped to find at least one surviving relative; tragically, she is told that none have survived the Nazi horror. She meets a Zionist organizer from Palestine, who tries to convince her to migrate to Israel and help build a new Jewish state. Before she makes a final decision, however, the Jews of Kielce are caught in a murderous pogrom: a slaughter of Jews.

Nazism's defeat, in 1945, and the world wide recognition of the Holocaust's horrors did not ensure that Europe's surviving Jews were safe from anti-Semites. On 4 July 1946, Jews in Kielce were accused of kidnapping Christian children and slitting their throats. Witnesses said that the Christian blood was used in strange barbarous Jewish rituals and that a rampaging mob murdered dozens of innocent Jews in the slaughter that engulfed the town.

The Kielce pogrom was not an isolated incident. The Jews had been invited back by the government, but they were being attacked, beaten and murdered throughout Poland. It was the Kielce murders, however, that became the catalyst for the brichah - the flight of Eastern Jews to Palestine.

Brichah agents in Europe planned escapes for thousands of fleeing Jews. It was very secret, very dangerous and very illegal. The stateless Jews did not have proper papers to cross the borders of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Italy, and the British had closed the borders of Palestine to further Jewish immigration. Some border guards could be bribed, but others shot to kill, and any Jew caught would end up in a detention camp. In the story, Ruth agrees to join the illegal organization and to shepherd a group of younger children on the journey to Palestine. She has no conviction to the cause; she is just alone and, as the brichah organizer told her, she had nothing else to do with her life and nowhere else to go.

Throughout the terrifying adventure she risks her life for these children, just as other young Jews risked their lives for her. During the journey, they encounter drunken murderous border guards, hunger, sickness, and the cold brutality of the British navy.

As Ruth goes through these experiences and listens to the children's and other young people's stories, her despair is slowly transformed through a tortuous metamorphosis. These young people's courage in the face of unthinkable atrocity, their deep fears and their hidden hopes open her eyes to new possibilities. Through knowing these children, she begins to face life, find love and comes to terms with her sadness. Ruth's and the children's stories are terrible testimonies to human evil. Matas does not spare a young reader's sensibilities. The horrors the Jewish people faced and suffered under the Nazi autarchy are brutal in their honesty. Matas clearly believes that these stories must be told and re-told. Unfortunately the world does not learn much from history, but at least it must not be allowed to forget the evil that is Nazism. It is also important that Matas has not forgotten the courage of the brave Poles who helped Jews, at the risk of their own lives, during the war. Those heroes who hid, fed and protected Jews are rightfully remembered. If there is a fault in After the War it is a somewhat artificial and cumbersome treatment of opposing Jewish political attitudes to the issues of peace, land, and security. Young readers will not be attuned to these political elements. It is an addition that diminishes the human elements of Ruth's story, which is the focus of the book and unnecessarily removes it from its vital historical context. A sequel would be a better place to explore these important elements.

Carol Matas has written a very good and important book. I hope that teachers and librarians recommend After the War to their students.

Highly Recommended

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

Book Review

Thru the Smoky End Boards, Canadian Poetry about Sports and Games.

Edited by Kevin Brooks and Sean Brooks.
Vancouver: Polestar Book Publishers, 1996. 248pp. paper, $16.95.
ISBN 1-896095-1

Grades 10 and up / Ages 16 and up.
Review by Rory Runnells.

***1/2 /4

Thru the Smoky End Boards, Canadian Poetry About Sports and Games, is a wide-ranging, invigorating, deep, if sometimes discursive, collection of poems about (mainly) hockey and baseball, but other games as well, both team and individual. Edited by the brothers Brooks, Kevin and Sean, with care and insight into their subject, the book offers poems from the late Victorian John Frederic Herbin's 'The Diver" to the Tragically Hip's lyric "Fifty Mission Cap", and (much better) material in between.

The subject is sport as metaphor for how and why we live, though, of course, this is sometimes hard to define. Perhaps this is best seen in George Bowering's "Baseball, a poem in the magic number 9' when he writes of the great Boston Red Sox player, Ted Williams.

I was in love with Ted Williams.
His long legs, that grace,
his narrow baseball bat
level-swung, his knowledge of art,
it has to be perfect, as near
as possible, dont swing
at a pitch seven centimeters
wide of the plate.

I root for the Boston Red Sox
Who are in ninth place
Who haven't won since 1946

It has to be perfect.

We wish we lived our lives--grace, level-swung, every day a seeking for perfection--as Williams lived his game; if only our lives could be the knowledge of the art of that game. That is worth rooting for, even if we remain in ninth place.

The book's subject is also the metaphysic of sport, as in Lionel Kearns, 'Hockey is Zen"

Frank handles his hockey stick
like a delicate instrument, a perfect
extension of physical self
and I, sitting high above the ice
think of a Samurai swordsman:
elegance and exact precision
the gestures executed
in a flash of instant decision.

Sport is about the lone figure, as the Brooks' explain in their generally fine introduction, which "expresses a strong element of the Canadian psyche". Many of the poems centre on the great sport figures as these lone players, usually hockey, carry the unresolved tensions and dreams of a community. Al Purdy's 'Homage to Ree-shard' encapsulates this brilliantly. The Brooks' are right when they state in the introduction that the "strong sense of being first and foremost an individual, yet always a part of a community, may be the uniquely Canadian theme of Thru the Smoky End Boards." Other themes are dealt with in this collection, for example, our sense of being 'not Americans', as particularly noted in the hockey poems, but also in Raymond Souster's edgy, funny baseball poem "Jays Win American League East, 1985" in which he equates that victory as symbolic revenge for the American invasion of Toronto in 1813.

This time, after nine explosive innings,
the damn Yankees are beaten at last
by the pitcher's arm, the bat,
not by any force of arms,
bloody loss of dead and dying.

Another theme is the passing of time, the short career and sometimes tragic end of sports figures makes all of us reflect on our mortality. If we see the best of what we would be in the one great sport figure, we see our end as well in his end. Speaking of 'his', many of the best poems in the collection deal with men and women if not at odds about sports, then at least always in a perplexing discussion. The Brooks' put it this way (though the poems are more complex than what their explanation implies) "The issue is not simply that men inexplicably like sports and women do not, but that sports are so thoroughly gendered as masculine that some atheletes and fans are uncomfortable with the roles they assume when they take up sports and games." These poems will provide fodder for lively debate, especially, I think, "Sport" by Leona Gom.

My one major criticism is that the collection becomes discursive, and near the end, unfocussed. The poems on individual athletes are mainly dull; some of the poems have little to do with the themes incorporated in the rest of the book, their link to sport tentative. Ambition may be the problem for the editors. Trying to include everything is often a problem of including too much for what is truly interesting in the original idea. However, the problem is a small one compared to the rest of the book.

The arrangements of the poems is excellent, easy to find by subject. The index is good as are the acknowledgements. The book is clearly a collection important to its editors, and their genuine concern in how this material, which they obviously love, is presented deserves special mention.

For student, sports fan, casual reader, and those who seek out Canadian poetry, Thru the Smoky End Boards is necessary reading. It is a collection to browse through, argue over, and mainly, admire.


Rory Runnells is coordinator of the Manitoba Association of Playwrights who watches sports.

On the Bookshelf

Depend on KCP for First-Rate Fiction

Margaret Buffie

Three cheers for Margaret! She's just won the Vicky Metcalf Award, presented by the Canadian Authors Association to a writer who has published four books inspirational to young people. Margaret's fourth novel - a riveting Gothic romance - is getting lots of attention:

Mr. Christie's Book Award shortlist

McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award

Ruth Schwartz Award shortlist

For ages 12-15 / grades 7-10
ISBN 1-55074-344-9 $4.95 PB

Kids Can Press

Read a review of Margaret Buffie's The Dark Garden in Volume II Number 26 of CM magazine.

On the Bookshelf

Depend on KCP for First-Rate Fiction

Linda Bailey

Move over Nancy Drew, Stevie Diamond is hot on the trail! And her latest fast-paced adventure will keep readers guessing until the end. The Stevie Diamond Mystery series is about true-to-life Canadian kids who solve the mysteries on their own.

The Stevie Diamond Mystery series has sold more than 45,0000 copies in Canada.

For ages 8-11 / grades 3-6
ISBN 1-55074-321-X $4.95 PB

Kids Can Press

Read reviews of Linda Bailey's

On the Bookshelf

Depend on KCP for First-Rate Fiction

Gillian Chan

Welcome back to Elmwood High School. Chan's second collection of short stories gives YA readers a glimpse into the lives of five students - their thoughts, aspirations and dilemmas - as they each tell their own story. Journey through the feelings and experience of the teenage years.

Mr. Christie's Book Award shortlist

City of Hamilton Book Award, children's category

Now that's a good story
The Globe and Mail

For ages 12 and up
grades 7 and up
ISBN 1-55074-319-8 $4.95 PB

Kids Can Press

CD-ROM Review

Beyond the Sambatyon: The Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes.

Narrated by Stacy Keach.
Portland, Oregon: Creative Multimedia, 1994. CD-ROM

Grades 5 - 9 / Ages 11 - 15.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.


The fate of the ten lost tribes of Israel has captured the attention of scholars, theologians and adventurers for more than 2000 years. The history of the quest is a tale of its own, and that story is chronicled in this CD-ROM which is based on an exhibition held at the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora in Tel Aviv.

For those whose knowledge of theology needs updating, the ten tribes of Israel were conquered by the Assyrians and exiled to northern Mesopotamia (Syria and Iraq) in 722-721 B.C. The other two remaining tribes form what is considered the basis for modern-day Israel and the Western Jewry. The ten tribes were never found. An ancient myth says that God surrounded them by a raging river, the Sambatyon, which is impassable except on the Sabbath. But the piety of the ten tribes makes it impossible for them to violate the Sabbath, so they are forever prevented from returning to Israel.

The quest to find the tribes has unearthed Jewish groups or groups whose customs mirror Judaism all over the world, from Chiang Min, China, to Lemba, South Africa, to Japan and the Mormons of Utah. The CD, Beyond the Sambatyon: The Myth of the Ten Lost Tribes details the discovery of these groups, the story of the people who sought them out, and offers explanations for the true origins of these groups.

The CD-ROM requires a 486SX/25, Windows 3.1, 4 MB of RAM, 5 MB hard drive space, a double-speed CD-ROM drive, 256 colour SuperVGA monitor; and a sound card. On a computer that exceeded those requirements, this program loaded slowly, and its operation was slow and irregular. Throughout its use, the wallpaper pages came in in patches, and sometimes did not come in completely. The text on those pages was difficult to discern before the wallpaper became clear, and the choice of background colour and illustrations made the words difficult to decipher even when the program worked properly. There was a several second delay between screens when icons were selected. The narration by Stacy Keach was interrupted repeatedly. Syllables were repeated or skipped at intermittent intervals, making it difficult to listen to.

The historical content of the CD-ROM is divided into geographical areas, personalities, testimonies of people who have moved to Israel from the Diaspora, and text detailing the history of the ten tribes, and other information. The information contained on the disc is interesting and comprehensive. There is a good association between the different content areas. An atlas shows where the different Jewish or other groups live, many of whom were forced to convert to Christianity or Islam to survive, but maintained their Jewish heritage. A click gives their history and religious customs, a picture and music from that region of the world. The music can be turned off. The video clips of Jews from South Africa and India provide an insight into a section of world Jewry about which little is known. The personalities who have pursued the ten lost tribes over the many centuries inform the user about the scholarly and theological accomplishments of Jews despite systemic discrimination and persecution.

However, the poor functioning of the CD-ROM makes this a poor purchase. Furthermore, even though the information is interesting, it is not presented in a fashion that is especially enhanced by the CD-ROM format, except for the video clips. A beautiful book, using the existing illustrations and text, would convey the same or more information with no delays, and could be referenced at any time. The current fad to convert all information to CD-ROM format is a trend that will result in many discs gathering dust on the shelf. This disc is one of them.

Not Recommended

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.

From the CM Archive

1986 Notable Canadian Children's Fiction
By Judith Saltman

Volume 16 Number 2

Although several of the titles selected here as Notable Canadian Children's Books of 1986 may certainly be read and enjoyed by teenagers, I have tried to choose titles appropriate to an audience of children between the ages of eight and twelve. Most of these books fall into the grades 5 to 6 readership category, but some younger and older readers would certainly find them appealing.

Why should these books be considered notable -- simply because of the creative tension that exists in a work of strong language or plot or characterization or theme. All of these books also share that elusive quality of appeal. Although they are not for all readers always, these books will have an impact on the hearts and imaginations of certain readers.

Fantasy is a genre in which Canadian children's literature has traditionally been quite weak, but in recent years there has been an increase in new works that reflect real talent and ingenuity. The Emperor's Panda* is one of these new fantasies. It is in the tradition of the romantic quest story but has a more gentle, philosophical tone than most epic fantasies. The setting is ancient China of the Celestial Empire-more of a folk world than the real China -- with elements familiar from the mythical "other worlds" or "secondary realities" of high fantasy.

The protagonist and hero is Kung. He is a humble, thoughtful peasant, a boy-musician who is not in the Western, Arthurian tradition of the warrior-knight who physically battles evil, but in the Eastern Buddhist-Taoist tradition of the artist who painstakingly acquires wisdom and pacifistically restores order to a world that has lost its equilibrium.

Kung undergoes many trials and tests. He rescues his kidnapped uncle, he out-tricks (by wit and wisdom rather than force) dragons and evil sorcerers-he saves the kingdom and restores its harmony (the foolish emperor, like the Western Fisher-King, has lost his integrity and sense of responsibility); and finally, he wins the love of and marries the emperor's daughter.

On all these quests, Kung has a spiritual guide who symbolizes the heart and theme of this fantasy: a mythical demigod figure who recalls Merlin as a mentor and tutor. This mentor, however, is a Giant Panda, a panda possessed of a charming unflappable serenity and whimsical humour. It is the Panda who imparts to Kung the Taoist philosophy of life represented by the symbol of Yin and Yang -- the necessity of a fine, even balance of good and evil, light and dark.

The tone of the novel is a mixture of various elements. The author creates fantastical details in the fairy-tale-like exoticism of ice dragons, dancing unicorns, and a sleeping spell cast by a bamboo grove that cures all evil. The author contrasts this poetic allusiveness with a down-to-earth, colloquial turn of phrase, which at times is consciously anachronistic and results in a purposefully contemporary fairy-tale.

The illustrations and overall fine book design are an important part of this elegant book. The artist, Eric Beddows, is also known as Ken Nutt, the illustrator of the Zoom books. His drawings are in black-and-white graphite. The fine rendering and tonal variations of light and dark emphasize the motif of the Yin and Yang balance in the text. The pictures have the sculptural weight of Chris Van Allsburg's artwork. The carefully researched visual details of ancient Chinese costume and architecture give concreteness to the culture and credibility to the fantasy.

The narrative is not overly long, and, with the illustrations, should appeal to grades 4 to 6.

Turning to realistic fiction, we have two novels of child, family and school life, both set in Vancouver: The Baby Project and The Daring Game.

In The Baby Project** we have a modern family story with a contemporary cast of characters: a working engineer mother, taxi driver and house-husband father, two older sons and the protagonist, eleven-year-old Jessica. The family scenes, natural dialogue, and engagement of characters recall the warmth and humour found in the traditional child and family-life stories of the 1930s to 1950s. The author creates a fully realized world, a family home the reader can walk into and inhabit.

But this is not just an episodic family story, secure and ordinary. With a twist of direction and tone the narrative shifts into devastating tragedy. The first half of the book revels in a quirky humour and sharpness of characterization that at times veer towards Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpe saga with such details as the eccentric tenant who writes unforgettable parodies of country and western songs.

This first section also explores the new social realism in children's literature with the impact on the family of a late baby (the mother is 42), and the adjustment to the baby by the entire family. This section of the book has unforgettable scenes, from the stormy adolescent brother quietly reading Motor Trend to the new baby, to Jessica and her friend taping the ocean waves for a baby lullaby.

The second half of the book moves unexpectedly into an entirely different dimension. The baby dies of crib death and the chaos of the family's reactions, from withdrawal and numbness to rage and isolation, is dealt with sensitively and honestly. The author does not show any quick, easy, lushly emotional resolution but the tentative beginnings by each family member of finding balance and solace in a cruelly changed world. The tensions and frictions in a family under stress are explored as they are in Jean Little's Mama 's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird (Penguin, 1984).

There is a rare tonal quality in this book -- a balance of tragedy and comedy, pathos and humour -- that recalls the work of Brian Doyle. The notion that life can be cruel and that humour and love are needed to balance its tragedies is handled sensitively. The necessity of continuing the emotional celebration of life itself, despite its blows, is portrayed in the night bike ride of Jessica and her brother through the magical city in a cleansing odyssey that leads them beyond their pain to the threshold of healing.

And, of course, there is Jessica. We experience her inner psychological life. She is a whole, rounded character on the edge of puberty. Like that of a William Mayne or Jane Gardam character, her mind is constantly turning over ideas and exploring perceptions of self, others, society and the adult world.

The style should be mentioned. Much of the wry wit is implied through seemingly artless very real and colloquial dialogue balanced with Jessica's poignant inner soliloquies.

This book has appeal from grades 5 to 7, but should also enjoy a readership of adults.

The Daring Game*** is written in the tradition of the girl's boarding-school story. It uses the genre in an original way as a springboard to examine the conventions of the school story. These elements are often ironically altered or inverted to create not an episodic school novel of incident but a novel of character.

Twelve-year-old Eliza comes from Edmonton in the 1960s to live for a year in a Vancouver boarding school for girls. The details of this life-the uniforms, school work and school traditions; hierarchical grouping of teachers and students; the intimacies, loyalties, and rivalries among classmates; and the pranks of mischief and dares of testing of character that bond the students together in the subculture of their private world-are delineated carefully.

But this book is not an episodic novel of incident. It is one of character study, and the school year is one of emotional growth for Eliza. Eliza is a very real character -- a tentative, insecure, deeply feeling girl. We watch Eliza progress past loneliness, homesickness, rejection. She wants to avoid the pressures and complexities of adolescence but discovers that growing up is not just the obscure threat of boys and dating. It is also the richness of evolving self-awareness and deepening friendships.

In addition to the theme of friendship. the author explores the theme of conflict of loyalties. When Eliza is forced to choose among duty to the traditions of the school, her love for her friend, and her own personal conscience, her inner struggle proves that life provides no easy solutions.

The style is straightforward and unassuming. Very much like the content of the novel, the tone is quiet and subtle with a very strong sense of place. As a new arrival in Vancouver, Eliza revels in its scented flowering spring, its mountains, and ocean lushness.

Turning to historical fiction, we have two novels set in Canada's recent past: the Depression-era novel, The Empty Chair by Bess Kaplan, and the World War 11 story, Naomi's Road by Joy Kogawa. Interestingly, both were rewritten as children's books from original adult novels.

In 1971 A Child in Prison Camp (Tundra, 1971) by Shizuye Takashima was published. It was the first Canadian children's book to address the experience of a child in the Japanese-Canadian internment camps of World War 11.

Now a second book for children -- Joy Kogawa's Naomi's Road**** -- treats this important topic. Naomi's Road is shaped as a novel of character and incident rather than as a book of memoirs such as the earlier work of Takashima the final result is more intimate and psychologically powerful.

In Naomi's Road, Kogawa has taken her adult award-winning work, Obasan,***** and rewritten it for children. Obasan is quite complex and multilayered . In Naomi's Road, Kogawa has simplified plot and language in an attempt to make the book more direct, straightforward, and accessible to the child reader.

The narrative chronicles several years in Naomi's life, beginning at age five when she and her brother are sent from Vancouver to an internment camp in the interior of B.C. and later to an Alberta farm. Naomi's loss is severe: she is separated from her parents and is cared for by her aunt (Obasan), a figure of love, family continuity, and cultural heritage.

Because Naomi is very young and naive, she does not comprehend the reasons for the disruption of her life. She is bewildered and full of hurt, but not embittered with anger. The tone is therefore not that of the painful memory, even rage, we might expect in a work based on the ugly realities of racism and injustice. In fact, it is often a book of gentle clarity and warmth. There is a tone of hope in the scenes of Naomi's play with her white friend.

There is also a poet's instinct in the imagistic use of small objects and incidents that loom large in a child's life and symbolize significant emotions and perceptions, such as Naomi's lost doll, which carries the burden of her loss of home, family, and cultural tradition.

Of appeal to grades 4 to 6.

The Empty Chair is similar to Joy Kogawa's Naomi's Road in that it was first published as an adult novel (under the title The Corner Store) and is here re-edited and rewritten for children. This trend brings up the interesting question of exactly what the difference between an adult novel about childhood and a book designed for children is.

Like Kogawa, Kaplan has simplified and streamlined her work, coming closer in empathetic identification to the inner self of the child protagonist and establishing an immediacy that is different from the more adult distance, which looks back on childhood in poignant reflection. Despite the ten-year-old age of the protagonist, Kaplan has kept a significant element of this adult consciousness in her text. The book therefore, may straddle the genres of children's and adult literature and may draw two separate audiences -- adult and child .

The action takes place in a period of near history -- the 1930s Depression era as in Bernice Thurman Hunter's "Booky" series and Myra Paperny's Wooden People. It is set in the Jewish community of Winnipeg's north end, where Becky's family lives on the edge of poverty.

Becky has a warm, resilient mother, a difficult, reserved father, and a typical friendly rivalry with her younger brother. As in The Baby Project, the book has a central shift in tone from that of a traditional family story to one of emotional and social realism. The focus shifts from Becky's life at home and school with humorous and poignant details to the sudden death of her mother in childbirth. The novel then becomes steeped in the subtleties of grief until Becky's mourning is disrupted by family matchmaking, which results in a new stepmother.

Throughout, we participate in Becky's inner life as she faces the terrible loss of her mother and experiences resentment towards the proposed stepmother. We experience her imaginative perceptions as a burgeoning writer. We also observe the obsessive, psychological projection of her confused emotions as she creates a frightening ghost apparition of her mother that fills her with guilt and fear.

In one sense, the novel is a study in terrible isolation: Becky is an isolated child trying to find her sense of self within a busy, complex family and school life. The novel chronicles a healing process as she resolves her grief and grows into life.

Canada is just beginning to produce collections of poetry for children written by one author. Most of these new poets-such as Dennis Lee and Robert Heidbreder-write light verse for the younger pre-school or early school-aged child. There is little for the older child/young teenager from about grades 5 to 7 that is serious, lightly humorous, and intimately, naturally colloquial. This is Little's achievement in Hey World, Here l Am!

About fifteen years ago Little wrote two novels of friendship, Look Through My Window and Kate. These works include a strong character who is a poet, thirteen-year-old Kate Bloomfield. Now Little has returned to Kate -- collecting her poems from the previous novels and adding some new ones. The result is an original literary production. The only other children's book character whose poems have been collected in this way is Russell Hoban's Frances the Badger, in Egg Thoughts and Other Frances Songs.

Little's poems are most often written from the first person perspective of a girl moving through the tumult of adolescence, a girl of strong will but deep Insecurities. The book is a mix of poems and prose pieces, similar to what one might expect to find in the soul-searching diary of an adolescent. As it turns earnest, sentimental, and crisply ironic, the writing most often focuses on Kate's quest for identity and meaning. Kate's personal voice speaks in confessional poems of wanting love and acceptance. She reveals not only a need for greater closeness to and understanding of her parents and her best friend Emily, but also her struggle to accept her own creative spirit and Jewish heritage. There are also poems of daily observation of the ordinary events of school the special rare moments of real learning.

Little's style achieves the natural, spontaneous voice of the young teenager. It is colloquial and idiomatic, straightforward yet not banal. Very accessible, the poetry is curiousIy close to what young teenagers actually write. With appeal to grades 5 to 7.

These high quality publications of 1986 represent a broad range of genres. Their variety and integrity bode well for continued growth in Canadian children's literature.

*Reviewed vol. XV/1 January 1987 p.l4. paper edition of CM.
**Reviewed vol.XV/I January 1987 p.l5. paper edition of CM.
***Reviewed vol. XIV/4 July 1986 p. l 67. paper edition of CM.
****Reviewed vol. XV/I January 1987 p.l8. paper edition of CM.
*****Reviewed vol. X/3 May 1982 p.l62.paper edition of CM.

Day, David. The Emperor's Panda. McClelland and Stewart 1986.
Ellis, Sarah. The Baby Project. Groundwood, 1986.
Kaplan, Bess. The Empty Chair. Western Producer Prairie Books, 1986.
Kogawa, Joy. Naomi's Road. Oxford, 1986.
little, Jean . Hey World, Here I Am! Kids Can Press,1986.
Pearson,Kit. The Daring Game. Penguin, 1986.

Book Review from the CM Archive

The Blue Jean Collection.

Edited by Peter Carver.
Saskatoon (Sask.):, Thistledown Press, 1992. 240pp, galley, $9.95
ISBN 0-920633-94-3. CIP

Reviewed by Joyce Brown

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

The Blue Jean Collection is an anthology of fiction for young adults selected from the winning entries in a national writing competition sponsored by Thistledown Press.

The winning selection, "I Am Hilda Burrows," written by Sharon Gibson Palermo of Halifax, tells of a young woman who survives the Halifax explosion of 1917. Despite her injuries she works to rescue others.

The runner-up, Linda Holeman of Winnipeg, entered a moving story, "Saying Goodbye," which relates a girl's attempt to accept the death of her father, an Ojibwa.

Each of the nineteen stories in this anthology displays a theme of particular interest to young adults--their relationships with their parents and friends, their absorption with their appearance, their concerns for the environment, and their fears for the future.

The variety of styles--fantasy, science fiction, abstract and contemporary--will maintain young readers' interest. The stories are lively, often suspenseful, true to the experiences and enthusiasms of young adults, and consistently entertaining.

The cover illustration and design by Stéphan Daigle will appeal to teenaged readers.

I would highly recommend The Blue Jean Collection for a high school library collection.

Grades 7 to 10 / Ages 12 to 15

Joyce Brown is a teacher-librarian at Westwood Community High School in Fort
McMurray, Alberta

Book Review from the CM Archive

Wanderer's First Summer.

Janice Erbach.
Vancouver: Polestar Book Publishers, 1994. 176pp, paper, $9.95
ISBN 0-919591-94-9. CIP

Reviewed by Joan Payzant

Volume 22 Number 6
1994 November / December

This is a fantasy bordering on science fiction with a young teenage girl, Kee, as the main character. She lives on a floating seaweed island community, and for six years she and other teenagers will exercise their special powers enabling them to breathe in water or air so that they may gather the whalin spawn of fruiting bodies which hang down under the seaweed island.

The group of young swimmers are known as wanderers, and they are aided by year-old whalins (much like dolphins) in their tasks. One of the greatest dangers they face are soonaloons, large underwater creatures that attack the islands from time to time. Telepathy plays a large part in the lives of the wanderers and their whalins, whose dorsal fins are grasped by wanderers to tow them through the water.

Kee's older brother Rad had been killed by a soonaloon in a brave attempt to protect the inhabitants of his island, and their parents have been exiled from the island. Kee and her little sister live with foster parents but Kee, in a restless, rebellious frame of mind, sets out for the Southern Islands along with two wanderer friends, hoping vaguely that she may find her real parents. The adventures she has on this voyage make up the bulk of the story.

Recommended as a real change of pace in children's novels.

Grades 4 to 8 / Ages 9 to 13

Joan Payzant is a former teacher-librarian in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Ed-Res Web Site Review

NickNacks: Learning Together Around the World


Review by Nancy Schubert

Reprinted from the EdRes mailing list.


NickNacks offers unique information on managing collaborative educational projects on the Internet. The site includes practical tips for: finding projects and participants; developing a collaborative project; exchanging varied file formats; cross-platform collaborations; and lesson planning. Internet tools, resources, sample projects and plans are provided. The site is updated frequently and expanding rapidly.


In addition to providing the most comprehensive information available anywhere on the web regarding collaborative learning projects, NickNacks demonstrates a new aspect of the teacher/parent relationship. The site is developed and maintained by a parent volunteer, who collaborates with teachers both in the classroom and via the Internet, developing and leading projects, and helping train staff and students in computer and telecommunications technology. This site was recently awarded B.E.S.T. Education's July Site Award.

Ed-Res Web Site Review



Review by Will Sanford

Reprinted from the EdRes mailing list.


Every weekday, CMARGIN Notes provides K-12 teachers with a wrap-up of the previous day's most educationally significant news stories. Each issue of this free email newsletter contains summaries of about a dozen articles in ten content-specific categories. Using a Web browser with an integrated mail feature (like Netscape Navigator 2.0 or 3.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0), subscribers can jump directly to the full-text versions of articles that interest them. An online archive allows subscribers and nonsubscribers alike to view back issues. (Note: CMARGIN Notes is part of a comprehensive site for K-12 teachers called CMARGIN.)


Teachers across all grade levels and disciplines should appreciate having quick and easy access to news stories that demonstrate the importance and relevance of classroom topics in everyday life. The archive should be a huge timesaver for students or teachers conducting online research, especially when the search function is up and running.

Although CMARGIN Notes doesn't come with step-by-step instructions for integrating news items into the curriculum, it has been designed to work with existing instructional materials; article summaries are accompanied by learning objectives that closely correspond to the learning objectives in textbooks. Not only is this a great source of ideas for timely, authentic classroom activities and lesson plans; it's also a painless way to keep up with what's going on in the world.

Ed-Res Web Site Review



Review by Gilles Bourque

Reprinted from the EdRes mailing list.


Netspedition is an interactive scientific expedition. A team will conduct experiments in remote areas of the Amazon Rainforest and prove that research can be conducted interactively on the internet. Sounds and images of what the team encounters during their eight week journey will be digitilized and transmitted on the internet to this site. An updated log of their adventures and daily travels will also be kept. One option is to follow the interactive map and go where the scientists have gone! A description of different animals and plants that they will research, will also be on the web page. Thus, the user can see and gather more information on the things they are seeing and discussing


Netspedition is a very informative and exciting site. It allows the user to see and do practically everything the team of scientists are doing in the Amazon Rainforest for eight weeks. The most impressive attribute of Netspedition is the graphics. They are absolutely amazing! Children will be amazed by them and learn a great deal from the information.

This is excellent for many people of varying interests and will be educational as well. We will be able to see the true potential of the internet and how it could change research in the future.


Notable Canadian Videos.

Reviews by Lorrie Andersen.

Mind's Eye: Jean Little.

School Services of Canada, 1994, VHS, 22 minutes, $99.95.

School Services of Canada has been producing the 'Meet the Canadian Authors' series for a number of years now. This is the second video about the popular author, Jean Little, the first having been undertaken in1986. In Jean Little: Mind's Eye the viewer is treated to a glimpse of thelife of this award winning children's author. Partially blind since birth and now almost totally blind, we see Jean Little in her day to day activities from reading to feeding the dogs to working at the computer to eating dinner to spending time with family and reading to Jenny. Making snow angels in the snow we see Jean Little being the child she writes about. And on that most important activity, reading, we are told that: "It isn't looking or listening that makes you able to read a book; it's thinking that makes you able to read." A wonderful visit with a popular author.

Recommended, Grade 5 to 12

The Reluctant Deckhand.

National Film Board, 1995, VHS, 46 minutes, Video, novel and teacher's guide, $26.95.

The reluctant deckhand is a video package containing the animated story told in six episodes, a thirteen minute documentary on the making of the film, a 128 page novel and a 36 page teacher's guide. Ten year old Tess and her mother Sue along with Maa-mou, the cat, set out in their fishing boat, the Henry Bay, for a summer of fishing. Tess learns not only about fishing but about growing up and self reliance. Although the story explores the mother-daughter relationship and themes of growing up, the documentary video segment which follows the animated story expands on the creative process and storytelling and animation techniques, in particular. A useful addition for language arts, media studies, and guidance.

Winner of the Canadian Education Association Award, AMTEC, 1996. The Reluctant Deckhand was reviewed in CM Volume II Number 30.

The novel is available separately from:
Pacific Educational Press
Faculty of Education
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4
ISBN 1-895766-01-X

Recommended, Grade 3 to 5 for the story line; up to Grade 12 for the documentary segment.

The Mind of a Child; working with children affected by poverty, racism and war.

National Film Board of Canada, 1995, VHS, 60 minutes, $26.95.

Lorna Williams, a First Nations education specialist with the Vancouver School District has learned from Israeli psychologist, Reuven Feuerstein, the mediated learning theory which is explored in this video. It is Feuerstein's observation that children in diverse cultures develop the same fundamental abilities; that every culture in the world contains all the elements for the cognitive and intellectual development of children; however, it requires the process of transmission without the disruption of war, famine, poverty, social movements, low educational level, or social discrimination. Children who have been cut off from their culture, including inner city children, may lack fundamental skills such as logical and mathematical abilities, self-regulation, spatial orientation, feelings of competence, complex social skills, and a sense of the past and the future.

Through the use of Feuerstein's technique of assessing and teaching children, the children in the documentary are shown learning; and, with the acquisition of new skills, displaying an obvious pride and delight. A hopeful video showing successful teachers using a renewed approach to teaching and learning.

Recommended, Adult.

Who's counting?

National Film Board of Canada, 1995. VHS, 94 minutes, $34.95, or, as a series of three videos with teacher's guide, $69.95.

This program is also available on three tapes entitled: Marilyn Waring on politics: local and global; Marilyn Waring on women and economics; and, Marilyn Waring on the environment. Each program features the New Zealand economist Marilyn Waring talking about the international view of economics in which only monetary value and monetary exchange are considered in the equation forgetting the role of unpaid work which coincidentally is usually performed by women. An alternative economic model that Waring proposes is based on time. One of her most cogent arguments is in the video on the environment in which she demonstrates, that under the present economic system, the utter nonsense that an oil spill and its cleanup are economically 'productive'! Good discussion starter material here for environmental studies, women's issues, and more.

Recommended, Grade 10 to 12

Lorrie Andersen is Collection Development Consultant Manitoba Education and Training, Instructional Resources Unit.

Distributor Information:

National Film Board of Canada
Box 6100, Station Centre-Ville
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3C 3H5
(800) 267-7710

School Services of Canada
66 Portland Street
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5V 2M8
(416) 703-0901

In the Mailbox

I recently discovered a review of our title Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense on your site. We appreciate the thoughtful comments made by the reviewer and her praise of the parts she liked.

A couple of notes: The price is now $18.95.

We were also surprised about her comments re: not enough animation. There are nearly 50 animations of Lear's poems in the CD-ROM track. The two sections she mentioned which are not animated are only a very small part of the CD.

As for not putting careful thought before jumping on the "CD-ROM" bandwagon, far from it. Lear, unlike many other illustraters, has implicit animation in his style. If he were alive today, there is no doubt he would be an animator. The goal of the CD-ROM track was not interactivity for technology's sake. Rather, we tried to bring out the "story" implicit in each of these wonderful verses. From the reactions we've gotten from hundreds of teacher's, parents and kids we believe we've succeeded. Lear recently won a prestigious Bronze Apple award from the National Education Media Network.

We are sorry your reviewer did not enjoy these animations. Given her comment about their not being very many animations, perhaps she didn't spend enough time exploring this track and didn't have a chance to see all of them. In any case, many other people have found this part of the product to be the very best part of all!!! We tried to balance the three parts and our belief is there is something in the product for everyone. By lowering the price, we also hope to increase the value of the product.

Cordially yours,

Aron Trauring e-mail:

Managing Editor
Peter Tittenberger

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