CM magazine
Table of Contents

Volume III Number 7
November 29, 1996

Book Reviews

cdnYancy & Bear.
Hazel Hutchins. Illustrated by Ruth Ohi.
Review by Janice Foster.
Grades Preschool - 1 / Ages 3 - 6.

Jo Ellen Bogart. Illustrated by Barbara Reid.
Review by Wendy Zwaal.
Grades Preschool - 2 / Ages 3 - 7.

intLittle Caribou.
Written and Illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies.
Review by Naomi Gerrard.
Grades Preschool - 3 / Ages 3 - 8.

intKaty Cat and Beaky Boo.
Lucy Cousins.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.
Grades Preschool and up / Ages 3 and up.

cdnMeet Matt and Roxy.
Karen Huszar. Photographs by Susan Huszar.
Review by Sharon A. McLennan McCue.
Grades K - 2 / Ages 5 - 7.

cdnThe Secret of Sentinel Rock.
Judith Silverthorne.
Review by Deborah Mervold.
Grades 3 - 7 / Ages 8 - 12.

cdnA way with horses.
Peter McPhee.
Review by Luella Sumner.
Grades 4 - 7 / Ages 9 - 12.

cdnAnastasia's Album.
Hugh Brewster.
Review by Sharon A. McLennan McCue.
Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.

cdnBrooks: Coming Home.
Walter Hildebrandt. Images by Peter Tittenberger.
Review by Ian Stewart.
Grade 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

cdnThe hystery of the broken fether.
Allison Muri.
Review by Katheryn Broughton.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Edited by R.P. MacIntyre.
Review by Rory Runnells.
Grade 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

cdnThe Teacher's Complete & Easy Guide to the Internet.
Ann Heide and Linda Stilborne.
Review by Janice Foster.
Teachers K - 12.

From the CM Archive

cdnBest of 1994.
The Pick of the 1994 Fall Season in Canada.
Feature by Virginia Davis.
First published November/December 1994.

cdnThe Time of the Wolf.
Thomas A. MacDonald.
Book review by Janet McKinlay.
First published October 1994.

cdnFish House Secrets.
Kathy Stinson.
Book review by Margaret Mackey.
First published October 1992.


cdnBulletin Board.

cdnSaskatchewan Book Awards Winners Announced!

C-EdRes Web Site Review



Getting into the groove!

This is only my second issue of CM and, as the board and staff adjust to me and I to them, we are slowly developing a regular format for the magazine. In each issue we want to include: ten to twelve reviews, some selections from our digital archives, a news section - with smaller pieces rounded up into the CM News Bulletin Board, a web site review ( or two), and a features section, which we are currently developing.

We also want to allow readers an opportunity to express themselves. Anyone interested in writing pieces for CM can contact me to discuss their ideas. Any announcements of upcoming events will be included in the bulletin board - just send them in. The format is organic and ever-changing according to the needs of the readership, so keep telling us what you want.

Let's keep CM interactive and in the groove (not the rut)!

Charmagne de Veer

Book Review

Yancy & Bear.

Hazel Hutchins. Illustrated by Ruth Ohi.
Willowdale, ON: Annick Press Ltd., 1996. Unpaged, paper, $5.95.
ISBN 1-44037-502-4.

Grades Preschool - 1 / Ages 3 - 6.
Review by Janice Foster.

**1/2 /4


Bear was worn out. He looked like someone who had crammed a whole year of living into just one day.
In Yancy & Bear, Hazel Hutchins, author of fifteen books for children, provides young readers with an amusing tale of a young boy and his stuffed toy bear who change places for a day.

      The story begins with Yancy and Bear exchanging clothes to begin their day's adventure as each other. The book describes the typical daily routines of a young boy but with a twist. Bear's enthusiasm to try to do everything that he couldn't do as a stuffed toy results in some humorous escapades - such as his climbing so high up into a tree that the fire department has to be called. By the end of the day, after Mother has read them a bedtime story, Bear has just enough energy to change back. As Yancy lovingly tucks his stuffed toy into bed, he promises him that they'll do it again next year.

      Yancy & Bear will appeal to young children who can share in the imaginative adventures of a stuffed toy coming to life. However, there are some oversights that might make the story confusing for a young audience. Some of the antics of Bear might not be readily identified as "bear" behaviour by a young audience. Children might question why the adults do not seem to notice that Yancy and Bear have traded places, such as when Mother remarks "My you're cute and curly this morning!" - are the adults going along with the charade or are they really fooled? The concept of Yancy sending thought waves to Bear might also not be readily understood, however this will most likely be the kind of book adults enjoy reading aloud to young children, so this concept could be discussed and explained.

      The cartoon-like illustrations by Ruth Ohi complement the text and provide interesting detail which children will love. Her portrayal of Yancy as a stuffed toy is very effective. The author's style flows easily and the story progresses in a well-sequenced time frame. The script-like font, however, might be difficult to read for beginners.

      Yancy & Bear is a cute story that should appeal to young children. Although there are leaps of logic - the adult response toward Yancy and Bear in the story seems a bit confusing, this book could lead to an excellent discussion with young children about what would happen if their favourite stuffed toy did come alive one day.


Janice Foster is currently a teacher-librarian/enrichment facilitator at Oakenwald School in the Fort Garry School Division in Winnipeg.

Book Review


Jo Ellen Bogart. Illustrated by Barbara Reid.
Richmond Hill: Scholastic, 1996. (Originally published in hardcover in 1994.) 32 pp., paper $5.99.
ISBN 0-590-24935-5.

Grades Preschool to 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
Review by Wendy Zwaal.

**** /4


My grandma went a-travelling,
She said: "What would you have me bring?"
"Not much," said I,
"Just a piece of the sky,
and a hundred songs I can sing."
Gifts is the story of an adventurous grandmother who asks her granddaughter what she would like from her travels. The granddaughter does not request the usual souvenirs, but asks for such things as a mountain, a rainbow, a sunrise, a roar, an iceberg and a memory. The grandmother complies and through the gifts, the granddaughter shares in the grandmother's experiences. In the course of the grandmother's travels, both the child and the grandmother grow older and by the end of the story the child has grown up to be a mother who promises to share her grandmother's gifts with her own child.

      Gifts demonstrates a positive relationship between grandmother and grandchild - one that is full of love and sharing, where the true gifts that the grandmother gives are not material. Gifts also portrays a positive image of aging; the grandmother, although grey-haired, is full of life and vigour. Even as she ages and is in a wheelchair, she retains her energy and zest for life.

      Gifts is an outstanding picture book. In 1995, it won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Medal for best illustrated Canadian children's picture book. Illustrator Barbara Reid, whose previous works include the award-winning Two by Two, Have you seen birds? and the Zoe board book series, continues her wonderful work here. The illustrations are detailed, colourful and magical. The grandmother appears vigourous and energetic; the child is joyful and adoring. Action and emotion are both wonderfully portrayed.

      Author Jo Ellen Bogart has written several other children's books including Sarah saw a Blue Macaw, Daniel's Dog, and Two Too Many. In Gifts she employs rhyme effectively to create a special relationship.

      Gifts is a delightful book that children will enjoy.

Highly recommended.

Wendy Zwaal is the Children's Librarian at the Newmarket Public Library.

Book Review

Little Caribou.

Written and Illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies.
Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 1996. 24 pp.; hard cover, $14.99.
ISBN 1-56402-923-9.

Grades Preschool - 3 / Ages 3 - 8.
Review by Naomi Gerrard.

** /4


In the far north of North America, at the edge of the frozen Arctic Ocean, is a land without trees called the high tundra. There, in early spring, as the snow is melting, a little caribou calf is born. Her mother, Cow Caribou, urges her to stand on her shaky new legs.
The idea behind the story of Little Caribou is a good one: the book starts with the birth of a caribou calf and follows it through its first year of life in the far north. However, I find this book lacks the spark that invites a second or third reading.

      Little Caribou is born on the frozen tundra, travels thousands of miles with the caribou herd, is confronted by flies in the heat of summer, is taught to find food in the snow fields, swims across cold rivers and meets people of the north.

      I thought something exciting was going to happen when the flies were troublesome, but Cow Caribou and the herd simply ran to the snow fields in the hills. The challenges of keeping up with the herd for thousands of miles and swimming across rivers are mentioned, but simply as facts. Even confrontation with people is friendly and uneventful. It's great to see that people do live peacefully with wildlife but I guess I just wanted some excitement.

      The watercolour illustrations are well executed, capturing realistic views of the tundra. The front cover illustration and the one of Little Caribou nursing are particularly well done as one witnesses communication between Little Caribou and Cow Caribou. The illustrations of the herd wandering about on the end pages and throughout the pages of the book flows nicely.

      The illustrations of Little Caribou, Cow Caribou and the herd are mostly done from a middle distance perspective. It would have been nice, however, to have some closeups of the caribou as they deal with the flies or other aspects of life on the tundra in order to see their faces and, perhaps, understand the psychology of how they deal with these incidents.

      The author/illustrator has studied natural history drawing and contributed illustrations to numerous field guides and gardening books. She has also illustrated several picture books, including Moon Frog: Animal Poems for Young Children by Richard Edwards.

      Despite the fact that the language in Little Caribou flows along almost musically, and despite the fact that describing the centuries-old nomadic life of the caribou is a good idea, too little happens in this book to bring me back for another read.

Recommended with reservations.

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

Book Review

Katy Cat and Beaky Boo.

Lucy Cousins.
Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press, 1996. Unpaged, hardcover, $17.99.
ISBN 1-56402-884-1.

Grades Preschool and up / Ages 3 and up.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.

*** /4

Brilliantly coloured gouache illustrations outlined with a bold black line make this lift-the-flap concept book very appealing.

      Katy Cat looks for colours, animal parts, stripes and spots, sounds, clothes and more underneath the forty flaps. Toddlers will love the surprises found there but the flaps are not as sturdy as those found in classic lift-the flap books like Hill's "Spot" books or Campbell's Dear Zoo.

      This is a delightful and engaging concept book as well as being a game of peek-a-boo with Beaky hiding under the flaps too!


Lorraine Douglas is Youth Services Coordinator, Winnipeg Public Library.

Book Review

Meet Matt and Roxy.

Karen Huszar. Photographs by Susan Huszar.
Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 1996. Unpaged, board cover, $14.95.
ISBN 1-55143-053-3.

Grades K - 2 / Ages 5 - 7.
Review by Sharon A. McLennan McCue.

*** /4

This delightful picture book's simple story is told from the point of view of Roxy, a white bull terrier with the proverbial black patch around one eye. Roxy introduces the reader to her best friend Matt and together they frolic their way through a typical day.

      Matt and Roxy go to a park, walk on the beach, play in a backyard wading pool, blow bubbles, play dress-up, swing, eat ice cream, have a bath, and go to sleep together. In many ways, they live in the world of a typical middle-class kid, if such a person still exists. Another interesting thing is that we do not see any adults throughout this book; it is totally kid-&-dog-centred.

      The simple text (one sentence per page) is a perfect compliment to the photographs with their almost sepia tones and delicate colouring. I can see a small, as-yet-unable-to-read child sitting through this story and wanting to hear (and see) it again and again. Early readers will find enough easy words to carry them over the more challenging ones - like "wrinkly."

      The book might not appeal to audiences in those areas where parks, beaches, and backyard wading pools are not common. Bearing that in mind, this book is recommended for appropriate libraries and home collections.


Sharon A. McLennan McCue is a former school library advisor for the Cree School Board of James Bay.

Book Review

The Secret of Sentinel Rock.

Judith Silverthorne.
Regina, SK: Coteau Books, 1996. 162 pp., paperback, $5.95.
ISBN 0-670-87163-X.

Grades 3 - 7 / Ages 8 - 12.
Review by Deborah Mervold.

*** /4


Streaks of dawn brightened the sky as she wiggled under the barbed-wire fence and sprinted across the pasture towards the rocky outcrop. Dandelions were beginning to show their yellow heads, and as Emily passed the willow bluff, crows cawed their greeting to the day. She quickened her pace as she neared the rock.
      Emma just had to be there! She wanted to know more about her new friend. After leaving Emma last night she'd decided it was a chance of a lifetime to see an actual pioneer family in action. And especially now that the farm might be sold, there wasn't much likelihood of another opportunity.
      Emily clambered up the steep incline, and scaled the rock. No Emma. Emily groaned. Not only was Emma not there, she was still looking at ploughed fields. How could she get through to Emma? Could she call to her somehow? Oh well, maybe Emma would soon appear. She could wait awhile, the sun wasn't even fully up yet.
      A meadowlark sang nearby. Emily smiled at the refreshing sound. Maybe she'd climb back down and explore while she waited for Emma. Reaching the edge, she flipped on her stomach and swung her legs over. All at once she felt something grabbing at her right ankle.
Twelve-year-old Emily is facing not only the loss of her grandmother but her grandmother's farm, as well. She retreats to her favourite spot, a rock ledge overlooking the prairie, where, to her surprise, she finds a girl from the past. Through the magic of kindred spirits, Emily is transported back to the days when pioneers homesteaded in the same spot where her grandmother's farm stands today.

      Author Judith Silverthorne does a good job with this story. I particularly like the fact that Emily travels back and forth between her own time and Emma's, and also that the time periods do not run parallel. This adds an interesting twist in that the reader is uncertain what Emily will find on her return to the past. Silverthorne also describes important aspects of pioneer life in this book, such as clearing land, using herbal medicine, and illness - a flu epidemic and a bout of pneumonia.

      The Secret of Sentinel Rock is Silverthorne's first work of fiction for children. In it, she combines a thorough knowledge of prairie landscape and pioneer life with an understanding of young people. Characters are realistic in situations that are believable. Setting is appropriate to the novel and shows a keen knowledge of the area. More novels from this Regina author would be a welcome addition to Canadian children's literature.


Deborah Mervold is a teacher librarian in a grade 6 to 12 school, and a Grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School.

Book Review

A way with horses.

Peter McPhee.
Toronto: James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 1996. 124 pp., paper, $8.95.
ISBN 1-55027-516-5.

Grades 4 - 7 / Ages 9 - 12.
Review by Luella Sumner.

*** /4


Anne continued where Sam had left off, showing her the proper way to sit and how to hold the reins to control her horse. The smaller, English-style saddle had taken some getting used to at first, but Caroline felt confident in it now. Both she and Wallace were still having problems with the new bridle and the English style of using the reins. Wallace was used to the reins pressed lightly against his neck, depending on which direction she wanted him to go. Now Caroline had to keep the reins tight in each hand and pull back on the left or right to direct him. Her wrists and arms were tired from holding them in such an awkward position. Wallace was smart and Caroline had never needed many riding aids to control him.
      Caroline felt tired, sore and unsure of herself. She had thought she knew a lot about the fine points of riding, but there was so much more to know if she ever wanted to compete.
This book by Peter McPhee is one of a series of sports stories for young people.

      Caroline is a talented young rodeo rider who has won many prizes with her horse Wallace. She catches the eye of the wealthy owner of a prestigious riding stable, and is offered the chance to be trained in show jumping. Suddenly she is introduced to a whole new world: sleek thoroughbreds, expensive trainers, and sophisticated riding students. Caroline is awed, yet some things about the riding school bother her. The owner seems to care more about medals than the horses or how they are treated. As the Jump Alberta competition approaches, Caroline uncovers something the school would like to hide. Should she tell, and lose her place on the jumping team? Or be true to her instincts and try to put things right to protect the horses she loves?

      The subject matter of this story will be of interest mostly to girls, and girls who love horses at that. There is a wealth of background information on show jumping with a little romance and intrigue thrown in.


Luella Sumner is Head Librarian of Red Rock Public Library in Red Rock Ontario.

Book Review

Anastasia's Album.

Hugh Brewster.
Toronto: Madison Press Books, 1996. 63 pp., cloth, $22.99.
ISBN 0-670-87163-X.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.
Review by Sharon A. McLennan McCue.

***1/2 /4


The Tsar and his wife were expected to be at the centre of every great occasion. But Nicholas and Alexandra did not enjoy the social whirl very much. They would leave the court balls as early as possible, nodding politely to the courtiers and servants, who stood in rows, bowing.
      Once inside their private apartments, they sighed with relief as they took off their formal clothes. Then they would kiss and tuck in each one (daughter) - clever Olga, delicate Tatania, chubby little Marie, and finally the baby, golden-haired Anastasia. Once their official duties were over, the tsar and his wife liked nothing better than to board the blue imperial train with their young family and escape to the Alexander Palace Tsarskoe Selo, or the tsar's village. Here, outside high iron railings, Cossack horsemen armed with sabres guarded both the Alexander Palace and the immense blue-and-white Catherine Palace. The surrounding park included beautiful lawns and gardens, fountains and bridges, pavilions and statues. In a small lake behind the palace there was a children's island, where Anastasia and her sisters had their own playhouse.
Despite the great strides feminism has made on its way to the nineties, little girls still want to be princesses. Here is the story of a real princess which shows a different side to the Prince-Charming/happily-ever-after scenario. Author Hugh Brewster, while viewing the Romanov family albums in Moscow's State Archives, saw the potential in telling Anastasia's story through her own letters and photographs. The resulting Anastasia's Album tells that story with sensitivity and balance, and with beauty.

      The Grand Duchess Anastasia was the fourth daughter of Tsar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra of Russia. Because of claims that she survived the massacre that killed the rest of her family, there has always been a mystique around Anastasia - the fourth daughter who was often described as the family clown. This book takes the reader from her birth through to her seventeenth year, the year of the massacre, with a short section looking at whether or not Anastasia may have escaped.

      The photographs and letters in the book are well chosen. They make the life of this princess identifiable to readers of all classes and illustrate that despite the trappings, this was a close and loving family. We see Anastasia and her siblings at school (which she did not like) and at play. We learn that, like girls of all classes, the princesses were enthralled by beautiful dresses and drew pictures of many of the gowns worn by their mother to the multitudes of social functions she was obliged to attend.

      The happy, well-cared-for beings in the photographs grow and change in the way that all children do: from chubby, un-self conscious toddlers to shy, gangly teenagers to, what appear to be, attractive, poised young adults. One delightful picture reminds us that even the privileged classes had problems which ninety years later we don't even consider - in it, all four sisters are bald, the result of a bout of measles.

      This book has an easy, flowing style which keeps pace with and perfectly complements the pictures and letters. It is like a fine teacher who presents, nudges, and then allows the material to carry the student into a new and fascinating world.

      This book is for all ages, from ten on, though adults will find different qualities to enjoy - and cannot, perhaps, ever forget that there is no happy ending. Anastasia's Album is highly recommended for home and public collections.

Highly Recommended.

Sharon A. McLennan McCue is a former school library advisor for the Cree School Board of James Bay.

Book Review

Brooks: Coming Home.

Walter Hildebrandt. Images by Peter Tittenberger.
Calgary: Bayeux Arts Inc., 1996. 120 pp., paper, $29.95.
ISBN 1-896209-36-X.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4


novelty and repetition
always a new
for sale
into the fantasy
getting away
from it all
closing eyes
Walter Hildebrandt's lucid and evocative epic poem, Brooks: Coming Home, describes his quest to understand and to offer readers some level of understanding of history's faceted and fractured domain.

      Brooks: Coming Home is the story of the grand failure of the Brooks Aqueduct, a great above ground concrete river that was built in 1914 as part of an ill-considered water reclamation project to irrigate the desert-like Pallisar Triangle of southeast Alberta. The poem tells the story of the aqueduct's effect on the people in southeast Alberta. Many were immigrants who had little or no experience in this type of farming, bought land at inflated prices, paid high water rates, and believed in the overblown schemes offered by CPR land boosters. They eventually discovered that the promised utopia was nowhere to be found.

      The conventional interpretation of Canada's past is accepting, sweet, passive, contained and controlled. Hildebrandt's is not. As he writes of current day Brooks itself:

there is a fine new
where you might enjoy
your picnic lunch
and a five foot fence around the entire
thanks to Nova, an Alberta corporation

      Brooks' history is the one not told in nationalistic histories that have in the past empowered and continue to empower societies' controlling structures and their corporate goals. In these histories, individuals and groups outside the structure, those who did not make it, are criticized, marginalized and soon forgotten.

      Hildebrandt moves back and forth between the intimacy of his own family's history - in Stalinist Russia during the Second World War, their migration to Canada, and then to Brooks, Alberta - to an examination of the great dynamic forces that have created the tragic world of western civilization. His bitter discovery that "those who held power / made sure there was one story / the story of progress / that was for the good of all" is as true for Canadian politicians and capitalist "boosters" as for Stalin's and Hitler's henchmen and historians.

      Peter Tittenberger's colour-enhanced archival montages and solitary images of the once impressive aqueduct:

a giant
evoke the grand dream and failure of the ambitious irrigation enterprise. In these images of a mouldering collapsing skeleton, the morbidity of the capitalists' promises and the confident engineers' science fall tumbling into the rotted infrastructure. The solid farmers' hopes, withered in the face of the overpowering forces of nature, time, and circumstance, now blow and twist like dust-devils in the hot winds of the great Canadian plains.

      Walter Hildebrandt's Brooks: Coming Home deserves a wide readership. Even though students will find some aspects of the poem difficult, I hope that English and history teachers promote the great virtues of this winding, intimate view of history.

Highly Recommended.

lan Stewart works at Lord Nelson School in Winnipeg. His maternal grandparents homestead was at Cereal, in southeastern Alberta, not far from Brooks, where they farmed for 50 years.

Book Review

The hystery of the broken fether.

Allison Muri.
Saskatoon, SK: Thistledown Press, 1996. 95 pp., paper, $13.95.
ISBN 1-895449-59-6.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Katheryn Broughton.

**** /4

excerpt: was like all of a sudden I was joint again with my mother and my granmother and my grate granmother and all those mothers back threw time.It was Iike wandring rite to my home without ever having bin lost. all of the sudden I coud almost feel again what it was like to be in side of my mother, she was my home and I was a part of her,almost, but I was myself also.
Author Allison Muri, who was brought up on a farm near Central Butte Saskatchewan, brings her considerable talent to this work of fiction set in rural Saskatchewan in 1917 and told from the perspective of its narrator in 1993.

      Ninety-four-year-old, nearly illiterate, lndigo de Plume is writing a story for her grandchildren and great grandchildren - in her will, she plans to give instructions that they receive copies of it. She is determined to tell the tale of Sam Colridge's death.

      Her beginning is startling; she describes two boys sneaking off from a threshing crew, feeling hot and itchy as they dive into the cool water of the local dam. To their horror, they find they share the spot with a corpse. "...its like on TV, its like Parry Mason, its like Peter Gunn or like Magnum or whatever, it has its death thats what its about."

      Indigo is ninety-four and her mind is not always clear. Although she tries to structure her narrative, she is distracted by events such as her friend Dot's sudden illness and demise. Since Dot is twenty years younger, it makes her think. She keeps wandering away from her main purpose into her present life in the old folks' home and into her past; incidents seem to spring unbidden into her mind.

      Thoughts of marriage and the childbearing years drift up from the past. For instance, she heard a sermon at a wedding when she was young in which the preacher declared that marriage was like coming to the Promised Land after living in the desert.

pardon me for being crude, but some times you just gotta tell the truth for pitys sakes, I never new that the land of Milk and Hony, that was my milk and my hony, it cum from me, it wasnt for me ... Some times it was the marage that was like being a lone in a wilderness, like my mind was wondring in a partched land, my self was lost and hungry.

      Although Indigo is uneducated, she is intelligent and insightful. For example, Indigo has taken a course on the subject of "jernals" in order to write this story, and this is where she's learned about rising action, climax, "Denermont" and closure. She has her thoughts about "Denerment:" "Denerment it seems to me thats your after denner ment its after youve had your main coarse and cake so to speak, you sit back to digrest and think on all the delights you have taken in thats when you pause and ponder and have your coffee and suck your ment...."

      Another example of Indigo's incisive intellect comes in her definition of "irony" which is as good a definition as in any textbook: "... it was kind of an irony statemen which I gess means it was something that said one thing and ment some thing els and so you had to iron it out in your mind."

      Author Allison Muri's style, full of misspelling, is appropriate; the mood is sustained and the times are accurately evoked. The plot swings easily back into the past and forward to the present. And reading is made easy and pleasant by the agreeable size of the print and its clarity.

      The cover art by Heather Cline is wonderfully apt. Four old people in their rocking chairs are superimposed onto a street scene, while in front of and below them is a small dog house crowded with children peering out, and behind them is a woman's head. The protagonist's present and past are vividly portrayed in this art work.

      Apart from the fact that the misspelling is distracting at times, this delightful first novel can be read by high school students who are good readers. This novel is recommended both for the writing style and the insights provided for the mature reader.

Highly Recommended.

Katheryn Broughton was born in the prairies and taught high school English and Library Skills for 19 years in North York, Ontario. She has edited a book of short stories (entitled Heartland) for senior students. These days she writes about old houses for the historical society newsletter (which she edits) in her home town, Thornhill, Ontario.

Book Review


Edited by R.P. MacIntyre.
Saskatoon: Thistledown Press, 1996. 152 pp., paper, $13.50
ISBN 1-895449-54-5.

Grade 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Rory Runnells.

***1/2 /4


Young protagonist fiction should be like good rock and roll - by definition slightly outrageous and raw. At its soul it should bear a relentless rhythm and engage the mind as well as the heart.
Leaving aside his arguable definition of rock and roll, editor R.P. MacIntyre has deftly defined the attraction of this short story collection: at its best, the stories - "assembled moments of realization, seen from the keen-eyed edge of youth" - do engage the mind and the heart. The characters provide a lot of material for thought, but, at the same time, emotion-tugging imagery is at the centre of a lot of the stories.

      The strongest story in the collection is Helen Mourre's "Things Happen." Through a combination of innocence and careless stupidity, Binny, the story's small town protagonist, is key in getting Sniper - a middle aged hippieish teacher who is popular with students, but unpopular with the school board - fired. The story is classic "coming of age," but it is the casualness of what happens that makes it engrossing. Lives can change abruptly. Things happen. Binny realizes this in the feel and smell of the small town which we know he will have to leave. The innocent are sometimes dangerous; he doesn't want to be young anymore. Mourre handles the ending perfectly as Sniper is leaving town.

Binny is riding his bike downtown the day they pull out. He happens to meet them at the four-way stop. He won't ever forget the way Sniper looks at him that morning. Binny thinks that's the way a guy would look if his life had been folded back and stripped bare ... [Binny] gets this weird, choked-up feeling from some place deep inside he didn't know existed until this moment ... Once in a while he looks up the CN tracks that cut the land in half. He is always fascinated by the way the two lines converge in the distance and come together until gradually there is nothing but the wind, blowing in the brome grass at the edge of the right-of-way.

      Another story, "Scarecrow" by Ed Yatscoff, has an obsessed prankster discovering what he, and we, didn't expect from the brooding, scary owner of the coveted scarecrow. This exciting story is a good example of how a "twist" in the story isn't simply a plot convention but a kind of inevitability which makes us think about (and feel) the character's discovery process.

      Even better is "The Initiation" by Megan K. Williams. This is the harshest story in the collection, but it is also filled with humanity and aching sadness. A bright girl, trying to fit into a particularly nasty school clique, The Group, realizes she is as much a joke to them as the unfortunate 'plain' girl the others mock. Williams' control of the elements in the story is impressive; again, the twist becomes inevitable and horrible for its desperately lonely narrator, and for the reader.

      There's no doubt that MacIntyre can write for a young adult audience - his short story collection The Blue Camero and novel Yuletide Blues are proof of that. In Takes, MacIntyre also demonstrates that he can shrewdly assemble a collection of others' work. He groups the stories carefully and cleverly: two bizarre tales at the start; coming of age ("Things Happen") in the centre of the book; followed by adventure tales; and then the toughest story, "The Initiation," and two poetic tales at the end.

      The stories in Takes provide a balance between male and female experience, big city and small town, the strange and the ordinary - which is even stranger. Of course, there is good and bad in any story collection. But here, even the weakest stories, "The Job," for example, are at least inoffensive. Whatever "take" you have on the collection, it is worth close study for students, teachers, and the lucky reader who seeks it out. The cover is striking, too.

Highly Recommended

Rory Runnells is the Director of the Manitoba Association of Playwrights.

Book Review

The Teacher's Complete & Easy Guide to the Internet.

Ann Heide and Linda Stilborne.
Toronto: Trifolium Books Inc., 1996. 336 pp., paper, $29.95.
ISBN 1-895579-85-6.

Teachers K - 12.
Review by Janice Foster.

*** /4


We have designed The Teacher's Complete & Easy Guide to the Internet in a way that we think will make good sense to teachers.
Canadian teachers Ann Heide, co-author of The Technological Classroom: a Blueprint for Success, and Linda Stilborne provide Canadian educators with a comprehensive guide to the Internet in The Teacher's Complete & Easy Guide to the Internet.

      Many key issues about using the Internet as a learning tool for students are addressed. The book examines the Internet's impact on learning for project work in the early, middle and senior grades. It deals with issues such as: controversial material, connecting with other teachers, the World Wide Web, and finding curriculum-related information on the Internet. It also suggests strategies for bringing the Internet into the classroom and getting information on technological planning.

      The Teacher's Complete & Easy Guide to the Internet provides advice for Internet novices as well. In "Ten Tips for Internet Success" the authors suggest that newcomers find a learning partner and not try to master everything at once. With this advice in mind, the book could serve as a useful guide and resource book for teachers integrating Internet into their classroom.

      Schools and teachers that are not currently online are also included within the book's scope. Since numerous Canadian schools still have limited, if any access to the Internet, this book provides practical suggestions on how educators can get Internet brought into their schools. It also addresses the challenging question of how to provide time and training for teachers.

      The comprehensive coverage of topics pertinent to the classroom teacher recommends this guide. It is unfortunate, however, that in the first chapter, "The Role of the Internet in Today's Classroom," the authors seem to equate technology with the Internet. The Internet is only one aspect of information technology and only one example of many tools for learning. In a section called "New Models for Learning" the authors state that "resources for learning (textbooks, existing knowledge base) are replaced by an online link to the real world." This statement fails to address the importance of resource-based learning as a model which develops information literacy skills in students: skills that are essential for effective use of information technology like the Internet. Furthermore, while online information is a valuable asset to both the teaching and the learning process, Internet should be presented as one technological tool, not one that replaces or overrides other information resources.

      The format of the book is straightforward and helpful. It is arranged into eight informative chapters and includes a glossary of terms, an appendix with a sample of "An Acceptable Use Policy," an appendix with sixty-two pages of sites linked to curricular areas, a bibliography and an index. Special features such as "Teaching Tips," "Tech Talk" and "Project Ideas" give specific assistance with providing well-designed lesson plans on a variety of topics at different grade levels. The only thing that could be changed is that it might be easier for teachers to locate the various "Project Ideas" if they had been included in an appendix rather than interspersed throughout the book.

      As with any Internet resource, there is also the possibility the suggested sites might be no longer current by the time the book is published. However, the number of Canadian sites and the variety of curriculum-related resources is worthwhile even if some of them might no longer be on the Internet.

      The Teacher's Complete & Easy Guide to the Internet is a useful resource for Canadian teachers and is recommended for purchase for either a school's professional library or for personal use.


Janice Foster is currently a teacher-librarian/enrichment facilitator at Oakenwald School in the Fort Garry School Division in Winnipeg.

Feature Story from the CM Archive

Best of 1994

The Pick of the Fall Season in Canada

by Virginia Davis

Volume 22 Number 6
1994 November/December

Picture-books, short stories, fantasy, non-fiction, and more recommended by Virginia Davis, this year's Claude Aubry award winner.

The Fall 1994 publishing season contains exceptional new picturebooks, admirable fiction for pre-teen and teen readers, and nonfiction exploring challenging questions in the political, social and scientific arenas. The short story finds favoured place again, and a cluster of important books are now available in paperback.

Picture books

Warabé Aska shares his imaginative world with us again in Aska's Sea Creatures, a brilliant companion to Aska's Birds and Aska's Animals. Barbara Reid's Plasticine art gives added verve to Jo Ellen Bogart's lively poem in Gifts.

A direct contrast in tone is Celia Barker Lottridge's Something Might Be Hiding, illustrated by Paul Zwolak. A young girl's unease in the strangeness of a new home spurs her to believe "something might be hiding." She and her family find nothing - until she herself follows a mysterious humming to its source. The ending that hints of an uncertain if not, perhaps, dangerous --future is similar to Ian Wallace's visual warning at the end of his retelling of "Hansel and Gretel" that evil never completely dies.

Wallace has moved the setting for Hansel and Gretel, one of the best-known German tales, to an Atlantic seacoast village and the time to just-about-now. He created the darkness he desired for a dark tale by drawing in pastel pencil on black Lana Balkis paper. The result is an unremitting sense of night. The witch's famous gingerbread house receives one of its most interesting interpretations ever in this memorable edition.

Ian Wallace's darker side was piqued yet again when he agreed, along with fifteen other illustrators, to provide visual interpretation for a nursery rhyme for Mother Goose: A Canadian Sampler. He used the same pencil-on-black technique to illustrate "Three Blind Mice." All of the illustrators in the collection chose the rhymes they illustrated. Because they have all donated their talent, proceeds from the sale of Mother Goose go to the Parent-Child Mother Goose Program that teaches parents how to sing and say rhymes to their babies. The program is active in four locations in Toronto and is just starting in Edmonton (see address at the end of this article).

Total zaniness characterizes Patti Stren's come-back title, For Sale: One Brother (remember Stren's Hug Me and Blythe Danner's wonderful recording?). All those get-out-of-my-life attitudes that a firstborn can have for a sibling exist in this sister who determines that younger brother David must go. She puts creative signs up all over the neighbourhood. The pages are alive with Stren's zippy images, and this is a feast for those who appreciate visual humour.

The striking, lyrical text of Josepha: A Prairie Boy's Story alerts us to an important new talent in author Jim McGugan. Josepha's loneliness as an older boy in the primary row because he can't conquer English will resonate with new immigrants. The capacity of the lad for caring and friendship make him memorable. Eye-capturing choices in perspective and echoes of the styles of Edward Hopper, Thomas Hart Benton and Winslow Homer (in the handling of light) make Murray Kimber's illustrations useful to any visual arts program.

Aska, Warabé. Aska's Sea Creatures. Doubleday Canada, 1994. ISBN 0385321074.

Bogart, Jo Ellen. Gifts. Illustrated by Barbara Reid. North Winds Press, 1994. ISBN 059024177X. Distributed by Scholastic Canada.

Lottridge, Celia Barker. Something Might Be Hiding. Illustrated by Paul Zwolak. Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994. ISBN 0888991762.

McGugan, Jim. Josepha: A Prairie Boy's Story. Illustrated by Murray Kimber. Red Deer College Press, 1994. ISBN 0889951012. Distributed by Raincoast Books.

Mother Goose: A Canadian Sampler. Illustrated by Simon Ng, et al. Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994. ISBN 0888992130.

Stren, Patti. For Sale: One Brother. Scholastic Canada, 1994. ISBN 0590749234.

Wallace, Ian. Hansel and Gretel. Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994. ISBN 0888992122.

Also not to be missed: Bouchard, David. The Colours of British Columbia. Illustrated by Michael Tickner. Raincoast Books, 1994. ISBN 1895714524.

Fiction novels

For older readers, new novels range from the fairly easy to the more complex, yet none is as challenging as earlier titles from these authors have been.

Ken Roberts' Past Tense has a passage that serves as an apt introduction. Uncle Chuck, who holds equal sway with Max as a central character, remembers his brother (Max's father), who died young: "Max taught me that life is not life unless there are new stories to tell. We all need to know that something unusual might happen today or tomorrow, something we can tell people." Giving someone in the face of death a story to tell is at the core of Past Tense, less light-hearted than Roberts' earlier novels but still charged with humour and a steady beat.

Also easy to read is Claire Mowat's French Isles, a sequel to The Girl from Away. Andrea gets a second opportunity to spend time with Newfoundland relatives while her mother and new husband teach in Sierra Leone. Andrea is crew with her cousin when her uncle's new trawler goes astray in fog. Suddenly, they are apprehended and accused of illegal fishing by the police of St. Pierre! Happily for Andrea, their troubles lead to opportunities for her: the chance to stay in the bed and breakfast run by a cousin and provide translation and maid service for the rest of the season. Mowat ably weaves bilingual conversation into the narrative and easily incorporates details of the culture and the geography of both St. Pierre and Miquelon.

Sarah Ellis tantalizes with Out of the Blue. Nearly teenage Megan experiences degrees of anger after learning "out of the blue" that her mother not only had a child out of wedlock but also has recently contacted this older daughter. A blue-glass Japanese fishing-net weight becomes a talisman as Megan works through the anger to reconciliation with her mother. Ellis' accomplished style supports thoughtful examination of a complex family situation.

William Bell's Speak to the Earth also explores anger at a parent. Bryan Trupe moves, after his dad's death, with his mom to a B.C. coastal village where, among other things, they run a bed and breakfast. Bryan's mother becomes an activist against indiscriminate logging. Bryan starts to experience internal conflict - and it worsens when she lands in jail. The situation is complicated by his suspicions of the two men who are renting space in the B&B during the demonstrations. Ultimately, Bell leads his character through an interesting self-examination and determination of new values.

Cowboys Don't Quit is the next phase for Shane, the troubled protagonist of Cowboys Don't Cry. When Shane's dad does not return from a business trip, Shane is hit with his still-simmering distrust of his father, whom he holds responsible for the accident that killed his mother. Shane determines to find his father, and the trip brings renewed grief and finally relief when he discovers that his dad has not gone on a drunken rampage--but indeed has been in real trouble. Prove to yourself how good Marilyn Halvorson, the author of Cowboys Don't Quit, is by this exercise: read Halvorson's Dare and S.E. Hinton's Taming the Star Runner together. Plot and characters just happen to be strikingly similar. Which is the better novel?

The prairie is potent setting in Cora Taylor's Summer of the Mad Monk, which takes place nearly seventy years earlier than Cowboys Don't Quit. During tough Depression years in Alberta, young Pip is beguiled for a time by the notion that the new blacksmith in town - bearded, Russian - is in fact Rasputin, escaped from the turmoil in Russia. This novel readily links to any study of World War I and the Russian Revolution.

Bell, William. Speak to the Earth. Doubleday Canada, 1994. ISBN 0385254873.

Ellis, Sarah. Out of the Blue. Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994. ISBN 0888992157.

Halvorson, Marilyn. Cowboys Don't Quit. Stoddart Publishing, 1994. ISBN 077367425X. Distributed by General Distribution Services.

Mowat, Claire. The French Isles. Key Porter Books, 1994. ISBN 1550135910.

Roberts, Ken. Past Tense. Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994. ISBN 0888992149.

Taylor, Cora. Summer of the Mad Monk. Greystone Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994. ISBN 1550541749.

Exceptional Fantasy/Time Travel

Time Ghost by Welwyn Wilton Katz is fantasy, incorporates time travel, and can be called science fiction as well, since its essential premise is an extension of scientific thinking. The premise? Since all time zones meet at the North Pole, the Pole is a place of no real time - or it's all times at once. If one were at the North Pole when time travel was activated, one could theoretically travel through time to any moment in time.

The creator of the theory does not anticipate another possibility that occurs when the two young heroines are tossed back in time: one of them enters the body of a past-time host; the other, ghostlike, can observe. Being inside another person means being able to speak only if the host is asleep, being able to see only if the host's eyes are open, and being able to move only if the host can be willed to move. This time-traveller/host relationship, the rapidly moving plot, and the discovery of what one generation can teach another all make this novel compelling.

Michael Bedard's Painted Devil is a sequel to A Darker Magic, his first novel (now in paperback). In a small Ontario town, the cycle of time allows again a window for the emergence of evil incarnate. This time it's the public library and an historic puppet collection that harbour the powers of darkness. Bedard's elegant style is a pleasure, and his work can be placed next to that of Margaret Mahy and Vivian Alcock, two other authors fascinated by the possibility that dark forces can co-exist with seemingly ordinary twentieth century suburban life. These three authors are admirable creators of what might be called "horror fiction."

Bedard, Michael. Painted Devil. Lester Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1895555485.

Katz, Welwyn Wilton. Time Ghost. Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994. ISBN 0888992165.

Short Stories

In that most demanding of fictional forms, the short story, four practitioners will, one hopes, restore the story to "must read" status.

R.P. MacIntyre's first novel Yuletide Blues received strong reviews. The Blue Camaro, a short story collection, proves he creates believable teen voices and can drive a plot. This collection uses the device of interlinked characters--with the same plot reflected from two perspectives--and that alone makes reading the whole definitely worthwhile.

Tim Wynne-Jones, in his prize-winning Some of the Kinder Planets and now The Book of Changes, proves his skill with authentic voice, strong plot, and delicious humour. For grades 2 to 3, Teddy Jam offers The Charlotte Stories, three stories featuring strong-willed Charlotte, who's not afraid to save a mouse or hang upside-down on a bar even though it may "turn her brain backwards." This is one of a group of new books Groundwood Books is developing for the early reader.

Cordelia Clark reveals that Budge Wilson writes for adults. As with The Leaving and The Courtship, the stories in Cordelia Clark will find a younger audience. Wilson's richness of character and directness of structure give her stories universality.

Twenty-one of Canada's short story creators peer into the unseen world in a collection so named: The Unseen: Scary Stories selected by Janet Lunn. Tales of hauntings by real people, short folktales inspired by real incidents, and original tales offer mild titillation to full gasp. Don't miss the dedication and don't miss Brian Doyle's "Carrot Cake" for Psycho-inspired chill.

Jam, Teddy. The Charlotte Stories. Illustrated by Harvey Chan. Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994. ISBN 0888992106.

MacIntyre, R.P. The Blue Camaro. Thistledown Press, 1994. ISBN 1895449235.

The Unseen: Scary Stories. Selected by Janet Lunn. Lester Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1895555426.

Wilson, Budge. Cordelia Clark. Stoddart Publishing, 1994. ISBN 0773674233. Distributed by General Distribution Services.

Wynne-Jones, Tim. The Book of Changes. Groundwood Book/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994. ISBN 0888992238.

Also not to be missed: Gallant, Mavis. Across the Bridge. McClelland & Stewart, 1994. ISBN 0771033079.

Morgan, Allen. Celebrate the Season: Fall. Illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka. Oasis Press, 1994. ISBN 1895092043.

Munro, Alice. Open Secrets. McClelland & Stewart, 1994. ISBN 0771066996.

Next Teller: A Book of Canadian Storytelling. Collected by Dan Yashinsky. Ragweed Press, 1994. ISBN 0921556462. Distributed by General Distribution Services.


Canada has two of the finest science writers in North America--Jay Ingram and Terence Dickinson.

Ingram's ability to add drama to science is evident in his new books about the brain. A Kid's Guide to the Brain is just that--and peppered with practical experiments. Sylvia Funston, former editor-in-chief of OWL and Chickadee, is co-author.

Extraterrestrials: A Field Guide for Earthlings is the book Terence Dickinson would have loved to read when he was twelve, as he reported in a CBC interview. Stunning, highly realistic art by Arnold Schaller gives visual interpretation to Dickinson's exploration of how higher life forms from "out there" might be equipped for the familiar five senses and several additional ones: magnetic field detection, sonar, and non-optical radiation. Dickinson reviews what we know about conditions for life and extrapolates with good science for other potential planetary environments.

Among other non-fiction this Fall is the pioneer book that educators have been requesting for years. A Pioneer Story by Barbara Greenwood stars the Robertsons, a fictional family living on a backwoods farm in eastern Canada in 1840. The text intermixes fictional accounts of daily events with short factual essays. How-to-do-it directions for pursuing many of the Robertsons' activities abound. Heather Collins' detailed art creates the sense of "being there."

In biography, there are two important additions. Karen Kain: Movement Never Lies is almost as beautiful as its subject. The work that will no doubt be the definitive one for Robertson Davies is Robertson Davies: Man of Myth by Judith Skelton Grant, exhaustively researched but not lacking liveliness in style. Davies also has his latest novel in release this Fall. The Cunning Man has narrative linkages with his earlier Fifth Business.

Finally, to become better acquainted with many of the creative talents mentioned here, there are two useful new biography collections. Meet Canadian Authors and Illustrators by Allison Gertridge is identical in format to an earlier title from Scholastic that included only a few Canadians, Meet the Authors and Illustrators by Deborah Kovacs and James Preller. The Canadian Society for Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP) has a new Canscaip Companion, edited by Barbara Greenwood. It provides biographical profiles and portraits of 366 of our leading men and women creating for children.

The Canscaip Companion. Edited by Barbara Greenwood. 2d ed. Pembroke Publishers, 1994. ISBN 1551380218.

Davies, Robertson. The Cunning Man. McClelland & Stewart, 1994. ISBN 0771025815.

Dickinson, Terence and Adolf Schaller. Extraterrestrials: A Field Guide for Earthlings. Camden House, 1994. ISBN 0921820879 (paper), ISBN 0921820860 (library binding). Distributed by Firefly Books.

Funston, Sylvia and Jay Ingram. A Kid's Guide to the Brain. Greey de Pencier/ Books from OWL, 1994. ISBN 1895688191 (paper), ISBN 1895688221 (library binding). Distributed by Firefly Books.

Gertridge, Allison. Meet Canadian Authors and Illustrators. Scholastic Canada, 1994. ISBN 0590243195.

Grant, Judith Skelton. Robertson Davies: Man of Myth. Viking Canada, 1994. ISBN 0670825573. Distributed by Penguin Books Canada.

Greenwood, Barbara. A Pioneer Story. Illustrated by Heather Collins. Kids Can Press, 1994. ISBN 155074237X (cloth), ISBN 1550741284 (paper).

Kain, Karen with Stephen Godfrey and Penelope Reed Doob. Karen Kain: Movement Never Lies: An Autobiography. McClelland & Stewart, 1994. ISBN 0771023200.

Also not to be missed

Bissoondath, Neil. Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada. Penguin Canada, 1994. ISBN 0140238786. Distributed by Penguin Books Canada.

Bondar, Roberta. Touching the Earth. Key Porter Books, 1994. ISBN 1550135759.

Clark, Joe. A Nation Too Good to Lose. Key Porter Books, 1994. ISBN 1550136038.

Ingram, Jay. The Burning House: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Brain. Viking Canada, 1994. ISBN 0670849871.

Milton, Steve. Super Skaters: World Figure Skating Stars. Key Porter Books, 1994. ISBN 1550135872.

Stern, Bonnie. Simply Heartsmart Cooking. Random House, 1994. ISBN 0394224019.

Now in paper

Titles that are assured to be potential for class sets are now in paper. Celia Barker Lottridge's Ticket to Curlew, a Canadian pioneer novel suitable for grades 4 and up, is also an excellent read-aloud for younger students. Barbara Smucker's Garth and the Mermaid supports any medieval study. The Lights Go On Again, the third title in Kit Pearson's World War II trilogy that began with The Sky is Falling, is now in paper. Two notable picture-books now in paper are Phoebe Gilman's Something from Nothing and Paul Yee's Roses Sing on New Snow.

Gilman, Phoebe. Something from Nothing. North Winds Press, 1992. ISBN 0590745573. Distributed by Scholastic Canada.

Lottridge, Celia Barker. Ticket to Curlew. Groundwood Books/ Douglas & McIntyre, 1992. ISBN 0888992211.

Pearson, Kit. The Lights Go On Again. Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0140364129. Distributed by Penguin Books Canada.

Smucker, Barbara. Garth and the Mermaid. Penguin Books, 1992. ISBN 0140361685. Distributed by Penguin Books Canada.

Yee, Paul. Roses Sing on New Snow: A Delicious Tale. Illustrated by Harvey Chan. Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1991. ISBN 088992173.

Have a Happy New Year exploring these exciting titles!

Virginia Davis is Consultant, Collection Development, with National Book Service in Mississauga, Ontario, a former convener of the CM Editorial Board, and past president of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians.

Book Review from the CM Archive

The Time of the Wolf.

Thomas A. MacDonald.
Toronto: Maxwell Macmillan Canada, 1994. 165 pp, paper.
ISBN 0-02-954252-9 (cloth)$14.95
ISBN 0-02-954255-3 (paper) $9.95.

Reviewed by Janet McKinlay.

Volume 22 Number 5
1994 October

It is Upper Canada in the late 1880s. When eleven-year-old Aaron's parents die of cholera, his great-aunt Morag and great-uncle Archie, rather than send him to an orphanage, reluctantly take him to live on their farm in the north. Aaron's mother had always said, "there were folks who were Christian by duty and folks who were Christian by love." Living in the emotionally sterile environment of his aunt and uncle's homestead, where only the basic necessities of food and shelter are provided, Aaron soon understands exactly what his mother had meant. But he finds acceptance at school both through the friendship of Sophie and her brother and through the encouragement of Mr. Nelson, the teacher, who appreciates Aaron's scholarly side. Unfortunately, he also becomes a favourite target of Big Josh Grossler, the school bully, who is constantly admonished by his father to emulate Aaron's love of learning.

The main focus of this story, however, is Aaron's relationship with Roland, a young wolf. Right from the moment of his arrival on the farm, Aaron is drawn to the fierce beauty and freedom of the wolves, which he views as "princes from another world." He mourns their slaughter when the local farmers go out one evening on a wolf kill. Weeks later, while wandering the local woods, Aaron rescues one lone cub from starvation, and they soon become inseparable. Secrecy becomes all-important, as Aaron knows Roland will also be killed if found.

Aaron spends as much time with Roland as he can. And, when his beloved newly found cousins invite him to come to live with them in Cobourg, he hesitates, torn between his love for his cousins and his love for Roland. Aunt Morag, however, jumps at the opportunity to get rid of Aaron and insists that he accept the invitation. While Aaron is walking alone to catch the train to Cobourg, tragedy strikes, and Aaron's life is saved only by the ultimate sacrifice that one creature can make for another.

There are many facets to Thomas MacDonald's novel. It is a historical novel of small-town and farm life in Upper Canada in the 1880s. It is an enchanting story of the strong bond between two lonely creatures, the boy and the wolf. It is also a story of child abuse and survival. Aaron survives the emotional abuse of his aunt and uncle through his love of learning and the friendships he creates with Sophie, with Mr. Nelson and particularly with Roland. Aaron's character is highlighted by and contrasted with the character of Big Josh, who succumbs to the physical and emotional abuse of his father by repeating the pattern of cruelty on others.

Thomas A. MacDonald, an up and coming young adult author, has written a fine first novel. He has built on his own experiences of living in the deep woods of Ontario, which lend authenticity to the setting and story-line. The relationship between the wolf and the boy is presented in a realistic fashion. The time period and the descriptions of the general harshness of life on a farm in the 1800s enhance the novel. The vocabulary is rich and the story flows logically. Both the strength of the main character and the theme will appeal to young people. Aaron's powerful story of emotional survival is compelling.

Highly recommended.

Grades 5 to 8 / Ages 10 to 13.

Janet McKinlay is a teacher-librarian at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Book Review from the CM Archive

Fish House Secrets.

Kathy Stinson.
Saskatoon, SK: Thistledown Press, 1992. 127 pp., paper, $16.00.
ISBN 0-920633-91-9.

Reviewed by Margaret Mackey.

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

Chad and Jill are young people with problems. Chad's mother has died and his father is suffocating him with unwanted attention. Jill's father is a gambler and his financial recklessness has made life miserable for the family. When he steals the money her mother has saved for Jill's dance lessons, she decides to run away for a day or two to teach them a lesson.

Through a series of errors, Jill winds up hiding on the Nova Scotia property of Chad's grandparents. Chad and his father, as usual, are spending their holiday there, the first one without Chad's mother. Chad finds Jill and tries to help her; to do this, he must stand up to his father.

The story is told in alternating narratives by Jill and Chad, mainly in the present tense. Their differing perspectives on the same event and their different sources of confusion and unhappiness are well handled. There is a scene involving nudity which may perturb some adults but is unlikely to upset teen readers. Only some problems are solved by the end of the book, and Jill's story, in particular, is left open.

This is Stinson's first young adult novel. Neither story nor technique is absolutely new, yet she has made a satisfying whole out of her entwined narratives. Many adolescents, of both sexes, will enjoy this book.

This book is recommended for all schools and libraries that serve young adult readers.

Grades 7 to 9 / Ages 12 to 14.

Margaret Mackey is a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.


CM News Bulletin Board

Meet the Managing Editor

CM is proud to announce that managing editor Peter Tittenberger will be present at the launch of Brooks: Coming Home, a book of poetry by Walter Hildebrandt with images by Tittenberger. The launch takes place in Winnipeg at Heaven Art & Book Cafe at 8:00 pm on Saturday, December 14. The event is open to the public and CM readers are welcome to attend the launch and meet Peter and see his work. To find out more about the book Brooks: Coming Home, see the review in this issue.

Books Online

Project Gutenberg is an umbrella organization that provides computer resources and handles copyright issues for online books. This organization supports hundreds of volunteers who are donating their time, energy and resources to putting texts in the public domain into electronic form. Project Gutenberg is looking for volunteers to select, enter, and proofread a book so that it can be made available electronically. To find out more about the project, see its web site at:

List for teachers

InfoList for All Teachers is a listing service from the Global Schoolnet Foundation. Among the listings of useful web resources for teachers are CM (naturally!), plus the following sample of the many sites named on the list.

Literacy Link
LITERACYLINK is a program that will use the latest in video, online and computer technology to help adults receive literacy instruction.

Canadian Education on the Web
Categories include educational organizations, universities and colleges, faculties, networks, libraries and journals.

This site encourages children to use the Internet to express their views, such as their hopes for world peace and much more.

The site includes online student exercises, resources for teachers and parents and a listserv connecting kids to scientists and other students.

The Infolist home page is at:
Interested teachers can subscribe or get more information by visiting the Global SchoolNet Foundation Home Page at:

Specially for parents

In the last INCLASS Digest, a teacher's resource magazine available on Schoolnet, a reader wrote in to recommend a web site that he says: "offer[s] critically acclaimed world class movies made especially for children. The movies also come with parents' discussion guides." You can find the site at

A recommended site on the Weekly Bookmark, a weekly listing of interesting sites, is Pediatrics for Parents. The electronic version of this newsletter features articles written by medical professionals and journalists plus all the latest in pediatric information, product recall news, and more. For more information, contact



The Saskatchewan Book Awards Gala was held last Friday, November 22, at the Hotel Saskatchewan in Regina.

      Judith Silverthorne won the Children's Literature prize for The Secret of Sentinel Rock (see review, this issue) while Thistledown Press received the Publishing in Education award for Takes edited by R.P. MacIntyre (see review, this issue).

      The other nominee for children's literature was Alison Lohans for Nathaniel's Violin. For the Publishing in Education prize the nominees were the anthologies Due West (Coteau), Under NeWest Eyes (Thistledown), and What Is Already Known (Thistledown) and Silverthorne's Sentinel Rock(Coteau).

      The winner of Saskatchewan Book of the Year was Guy Vanderhaeghe's The Englishman's Boy which also won the 1996 Governor General's Award for Fiction.

      The Saskatchewan Book Awards are now in their fourth year and feature ten awards categories including Non-Fiction, First Peoples Publishing, Award for Publishing, Poetry, City of Regina, First Book and Fiction. Awards are sponsored by various businesses and corporations throughout the province.

EdRes Web Site Review



Review by Kimberly Matthews.

Reprinted from the EdRes mailing list.


Edweb offers an exploration of the worlds of educational reform and information technology. You are able to search for online educational resources from all around the world. With Edweb continuously making changes and additions regularly, you can easily learn about the newest trends and information development in education. From reading success stories of computers in the classroom to what children are talking about over their very own Chat Forum, Edweb is an excellent site for anyone wanting to see what's new with the internet and our educational programs.


The Educational Resource Guide, a section which provides you with a variety of educational resources such as teacher discussion groups, lesson plans, interactive projects, and numerous interesting places for children to explore is one of the most useful links of the site. Other sections of interest include: Listserv Discussion, Usenet News Groups, and Chat Forums for Kids.

Commercial Collaborative Learning Services is a network used as a medium of information exchange and review among a variety of online students and teachers working towards a common goal. This would be great in the classroom if students were working on a project in any subject area and other students in another school were doing the same. They could exchange information and work together on it as a whole. You could incorporate cooperative learning over the net. This section is easily categorized and designed by providing you instantly with the current networks that are being used but not easily accessible because you have an individual to contact by phone and some charge fees.

A most worthwhile site for educators at all levels.

Managing Editor
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Charmagne de Veer

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ISSN 1201-9364