Welcome to the last issue of CM before the holiday season and the last issue of 1996.
As a special last minute gift-buying feature, we have reviewed two late-arriving seasonal titles in this issue and highlighted them in festive red and green - Red Parka Mary, a picture book for young children, and Valley Christmas, a collection of Christmas-themed short stories for adults.
We have also revised our schedule for the holiday season. Rather than publishing on December 28, our next scheduled date, we will be deferring to festivities and big dinners and gift returns - in other words, we'll push the schedule back one week and return with Volume 3, Issue 9 on January 3, 1997.
Coming up later in January will be the exciting year-end roundup of the best titles of 1996 as well as reviews of books, CD-ROMs and videos plus news bulletins and more! See you in 1997.
Charmagne de Veer
Peter Eyvindson. Illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson.
Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican Publications, 1996. pp., softcover, $8.95.
Grades Preschool - 3 / Ages 4 - 8.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.
At first I was scared of her. She didn't hide behind the trees waiting to pop out and scare me. Nor did she ever try to chase after me. But there was something about her that scared me.Saskatchewan author and storyteller Peter Eyvindson has written a gentle and thoughtful tale about intergenerational friendship and love.
A seven-year-old boy narrates his story about his elderly neighbour, Mary. At first, he is afraid of her but, after an encounter, the two develop a remarkable relationship. Before Christmas, the boy decides to buy Mary a red parka because she is always cold. After he gives her the parka, she promises him a fantastic gift on Christmas Day. They play a guessing game and he finally receives a small heart-shaped bead which symbolizes the love Mary can give to him.
The full-colour paintings by Winnipegger Rhian Brynjolson are rich in character and emotion. The scenes in which the boy, in folk tale fashion, tries to guess what he will be given are very amusing. In one scene, the backdrop of Buckingham Palace appears and, in another, everything turns gold - including the boy's dog!
This tender tale is a welcome addition for library collections as it presents a realistic depiction of contemporary First Peoples. Children will enjoy sharing this story at Christmas and at other times during the year.
Lorraine Douglas is Youth Services Coordinator, Winnipeg Public Library.
The Metropolitan Toronto School Board. Edited by Julie E. Czerneda.
Toronto: Trifolium Books, 1996. 170 pp., paperback, $29.95.
Grades K - 6 / Ages 5 - 11.
Review by Deborah Mervold.
ADOPT A BEARThis volume is an excellent addition to the Springboards for Teaching series. The series is published by Trifolium books as an educational resource and the publisher encourages readers to send in their comments on the activities included in the books.
Your school has helped to raise money so the local zoo could care for a young orphaned black bear. Enough money has been raised and now the zoo is ready to design and build the new compound where the bear will live. The zookeepers have written the following letter to your school: ...
THINK ABOUT IT!
- What information do you need before you can start your design?
- How big should the shelter be?
- What materials would work best? How will you decide?
- The compound will have an outside area and a shelter. How could you make a door to the shelter that lets the bear move freely in and out?
- How will you present your design?
- How can you use the computer to record your work?
All Aboard is a practical and workable collection of scenarios, models, assessment tools, strategies and twenty projects under four themes: "Animal Shelters," "Weather," "Human Achievement," and "The Built Environment." The cross-curricular approach used in the book allows a wealth of material to be used in a variety of ways and in many classrooms. Material is detailed and a step-by-step procedure is included that would be a time saver for busy educators. The glossary and resource list are also useful for teachers and students and the volume begins with a teacher support section whi ch is very helpful for using the material and ideas in the later pages. A large format makes the collection easy to read. The material is very well organized in an appropriate and practical manner with useful headings. If other books in the series are similar, this would be an excellent series to be included in a school or professional collection.
Deborah Mervold is a teacher librarian in a grade 6 to 12 school, and a Grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School.
Celia Barker Lottridge. Illustrated by David Clifford.
Toronto: Groundwood Books, 1995. 46 pp., paper, $5.95.
Grades 2 - 4 / Ages 7 - 9.
Review by Janice Foster.
Let me tell you a story about where that kind of wind took me. You might not believe it, but it's true. It's the story of the wind wagon. Just listen.
Celia Lottridge, author of the award-winning Ticket to Curlew, has given younger readers an exciting, fast-paced chapter book with The Wind Wagon. Based on a real-life event, the story captures the excitement of the pioneers in the mid-nineteenth century as they headed west looking for a new life.
Sam Peppard arrives in Oskaloosa in 1859 and settles in as the town's blacksmith. But, like many other young fellows, he wants to head further west to the Rocky Mountains. Unlike the others, he isn't prepared to go by ox cart which would take several months. So, preferring to go by wind rather than ox cart, he builds a wind wagon to sail across the prairie. The story continues with Sam's wait for the right wind and then his adventure as he finally "sets sail" for the west.
Young readers eager to explore "chapter" books will find The Wind Wagon easy to read in both vocabulary level and text type. The black and white illustrations by David Clifford are interspersed throughout the book and capture the flavour of the period as well as the humour and excitement of the plot. The illustrations also help the young reader make the transition from picture book to novel format.
Although Celia Barker Lottridge's fast-paced story will hold the attention of the younger reader, there are some aspects of the book that will be confusing to them. The American setting will be unfamiliar to many primary level Canadian children as will the use of miles in describing distance and speed. The historical background reference that "a lot of Indians had a lot to be sore about" will be confusing to younger readers since not enough information is provided.
The Wind Wagon definitely has merit as both an introduction to historical fiction and an introduction to novel reading. The humour and action will help sustain the interest of the younger reader. The novel might also be used in a literature circle group for the primary grades as its story lends itself to discussion - in this way, an adult can elaborate on the historical background and draw attention to the methods of travel used by the pioneers in the United States.
This novel is recommended as a beginning novel for students interested in the historical theme of pioneer settlement.
Janice Foster is currently a teacher-librarian/enrichment facilitator at Oakenwald School in the Fort Garry School Division in Winnipeg.
Toronto: Viking Books, 1996. 228 pp., cloth, $19.99.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.
From then on Theo escaped to that bright world whenever she could. Each of her schools had a library. At first Theo read the first book she grabbed from the shelf. She devoured picture books about George and Martha, chapter books about freckle juice and fried worms, and facts about building igloos and about faraway countries like India. Then one day she picked up Thumbelina and for a whole year she read nothing but fairy tales - thin and fat volumes about Cinderella and the Sleeping Beauty and the Seven Swans.Since Pearson's last three novels, the "Guests of War" trilogy, were all historical fiction, readers may have forgotten that Pearson also wrote a time slip fantasy, A Handful of Time. It is to this genre she returns in Awake and Dreaming. Divided into three "Parts," the book begins with a reader-engaging "Prologue" narrated by a "searching" ghost which has "haunted" a house for 40 years.
Now her favourites were stories about families or stories about magic. Perfect books combined both, like the Narnia chronicles about four children who visited a magic land, or Half Magic, where a family found a coin that granted them half of each wish.
Theo knew the families in these books as well as if they were her own sisters and brothers. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy in Little Women, Paulina, Petrova and Posy in Ballet Shoes, John, Susan, Titty and Roger in the Swallow and Amazons series...
Part One, "Theo," introduces the book's central character, Theo Caffrey, nine and the only child of her unmarried, frequently unemployed 25-year-old mother, Rae. Socially isolated by poverty and frequent moves, Theo has discovered an escape from her unhappy Vancouver life - reading. For Theo, "the only real world was the one in books." Theo's fantasy, to be the middle of five children in a two-parent family, seems unattainable especially when Rae, invited to live with a new boyfriend, decides to ship Theo off to an aunt in Victoria.
In Part Two, "The Family," Theo, while on the Victoria-bound ferry, encounters her "perfect" family, the Kaldors, and wishes on the new moon to belong to them. Her wish is seemingly granted, and for months Theo experiences the all-loving family life she has only read and dreamed about. Eventually, however, the Kaldors can no longer "see" Theo, and she finds herself back on the Victoria ferry.
Part Three, "Cecily" deals with Theo's time with her aunt, reintroduces the ghost, and explains Theo's strange Kaldor experience. In Victoria, Theo rediscovers the Kaldors but discerns they have no recollections of her. While sleeping over at the Kaldor home, Theo encounters the ghost which is actually the spirit of Cecily Stone, an author who died before writing the book she believes she was meant to write, a book about a lonely, unhappy child. In Theo, Cecily has found her story's character, but it will be up to Theo to write the book. Somehow on the ferry, Theo's wish and Cecily's plot had become intertwined. While Theo wants to return to that fantasy family world, Cecily advises her not to avoid the realities about her, but to use it as the stuff of her imagination for "writers are both awake and dreaming."
Right from the "Prologue," with its unanswered question about the ghost's search, the plot propels readers along. Appropriately, Pearson avoids a happy-ever-after ending while leaving readers with some hope that Rae will turn her life around and become a true mother to Theo. Girls in grades 3 to 6 will find Theo to be a wonderfully sympathetic character.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.
Regina: Coteau Books, 1996. 163 pp., paperback, $6.95.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Deborah Mervold.
Welcome to my photo album! You are in for one of the most exciting experiences in your entire life! Reading this photo album is even more exciting than watching your uncle Rudy's video of his trip to Cleveland, Ohio! More exciting than bungee jumping blindfolded into a giant vat of steaming hot chocolate sauce! Even more exciting than shaving your best friend's head bald and drawing a map of the northern Hemisphere on it with a felt pen that never ever washes off!Young readers will enjoy the unusual approach Chris McMahen takes in this, his hilarious first novel for young people. Buddy Concrackle is going on holidays with his parents and younger sister and has decided to do a photo journal of his trip as a school project. But everything that can go wrong does and Buddy ends up with an album full of text - and no pictures.
As you look at my photo album, you will gasp at the sight of the lake monster Ogopogo inhaling entire towns through his nostrils. Thrill at the views of death-defying kite flying on Oregon's windy coast! See a picture of the world's biggest yo-yo! Even Elvis Presley may make an appearance!
In this photo album, you will see it all!
But there is one small, tiny itsy, bitsy problem. If you look at the photo album, you will notice there's something missing - pictures. You see I had a bit of bad luck and ... well ... there are no pictures.
But if you read on for a while longer, I can explain EVERYTHING!
It all started when I opened my birthday present from Mom and Dad. It was the worst tenth birthday present in the history of the world.
Buddy supplies the text for each of the photos but fails to give a convincing reason why they are missing - which turns out to be understandable once readers become aware of Buddy's situation and humorous family circumstances. Children will identify with Buddy and his difficulty in taking pictures and the embarrassing situations in which he finds himself.
There is a great deal of humour in the book. The characterization of the parents is very amusing. Additional characters, such as bagpipe player Ear Drum Macleod, add a chuckle to the plot. Short cut taking, map reading, border crossing, lawn ornaments, and seafood restaurants are all included in Buddy's hilarious adventures. Buddy's understating of events will also be enjoyed by the reader .
The print is easy to read with appropriate sizing for the intended audience. The cover illustration done by Bill Johnson delightfully captures the sense of Buddy and his family. Dialogue is realistic and situations will appeal to children in the middle years. Even though some of the events are on the ridiculous side, the opportunity to describe the scene makes this novel a good choice for classroom reading. This book is suitable for public and school libraries as well as individual collections.
Deborah Mervold is a teacher librarian in a grade 6 to l2 school, and a Grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School.
Toronto: James Lorimer & Co. Ltd., 1996. 96 pp., paper, $8.95.
Grades 4 - 7 / Ages 9 - 12.
Review by Luella Sumner.
I did another okay job as batboy, but the Phillies had the Jays' number and trashed us, six to zip. Although the outfield only played three innings, it was obvious the stolen gloves had upset them.This book by Martyn Godfrey (who was a batboy for a former Toronto baseball team) is one of a series of sports stories for young people. As the winner of a contest to be a special batboy for the Blue Jays during spring break, Rob receives an expenses-paid trip to Florida for spring training. Meeting his heroes and being part of the team seem like a dream come true. His best friend, who just happens to be a girl, persuades her grandfather, who lives in Florida, to chaperone her and Rob for the week. Rob becomes entangled in a plot to steal equipment from the Jays but, with Cheryl's help, he is able to foil the thieves and become a hero to the team. While the story sticks mainly to the baseball theme, a mere smidgen of romance is allowed to creep in near the end.
The Phillies' first hit was a smash to left. Josh Martin jumped up against the wall to snag it and, incredibly, the ball bounced out of his new glove. I thought it could have just been bad luck, but when Calvin Hobbs bobbled a routine fly, I got worried. In the third, Marcus Nicholas collided with Hank Franca, the first baseman, on a blooper. At the plate, Martin, Hobbs and Nicholas were hitless. Things were definitely not normal.
This book should appeal to both girls and boys as the action involves Cheryl to some degree. She is as capable as Rob in dealing with their problems, and at the end she is able to break into his obsession with baseball and make Rob see her as a girl. The story is interesting, fast paced, and just unbelievable enough to be really exciting. The characters are good role models for the reader, if a trifle too good to be true!
Luella Sumner is Head Librarian of Red Rock Public Library in Red Rock, Ontario.
Peter W. Twist.
Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics, 1996. 256 pp., paper, $21.95.
Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.
The author of this guide is the strength and conditioning coach of the NHL's Vancouver Canucks. He holds a Master's degree in Physical Education in coaching and previously co-authored The Physiology of Ice Hockey - A Testing and Training Manual.
Intended for professionals and recreational athletes and their coaches, this guide provides information on fitness basics and safety considerations, flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic drills, strength training, speed training, agility drills and nutrition. The benefits and instructions for each exercise are very clearly and concisely written. It is filled with clear schematic diagrams and black and white photos of players (mostly the Canucks) demonstrating exercises. The book also features boxes with statements on conditioning from greats like Gretzky, Chelios and Cherry with their photos. (And the book is so up-to-date Gretzky is named as playing for the Rangers!) Their thoughts are positive and encouraging and match the overall tone of the book.
This guide is most useful to coaches but also contains information of great concern to teens - like how to eat on a long pregame trip, how to gain weight properly, and the value of other sports in increasing hockey skills. Two small criticisms are that the photo of Dave Babych demonstrating an exercise would have been better placed on the page with the instructions, and an index would have been handy for quick reference to the exercises.
This information-packed and well-organized guide is highly recommended for public libraries.
Lorraine Douglas is Youth Services Coordinator for Winnipeg Public Library. She manages selection and programming for the Winnipeg Public Library and played hockey for a number of years.
Saskatoon, SK: Thistledown Press, 1996. 196 pp., paper, $13.95.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Katheryn Broughton.
How's your dad, people ask. And you just want to shriek; instead, you say fine, just fine. Fine, fine, fine. And no matter what you do you're going to feel the same way when he dies. Misplaced, maybe a little vague, but with this raw stinking guilt. Which you're going to shoulder until the day you die.Entertaining, connected short stories (many published previously in literary magazines) make up Country Music Country, Bruce Hunter's first collection.
The stories are set in Calgary from the 1950s to the present, an era that is effectively reproduced and, of course, familiar to many readers. The characters come from the blue-collar class of Canadian society, a group whose lives are not often explored in literature.
In this collection, Hunter focusses on a small group of children who attend the same school: Tom Grogan, who plays the role of the "connector;" Bob Adams, a Cree with an Irish mother, who wants to be white; Kenny Dawe, a rebel with no real purpose; and Adrian and Suzy Carp, the only ones who successfully pursue higher education and achieve a measure of happiness.
In the first story, "Blood Brothers," the stage is set. The children are 12 to 13 years old and absorbed in their play. They create forts, hatch plots, range over woods and, at one point, become blood brothers (even Suzy) in a ceremony that takes place in the wreck of a car. They all want to be "Indians," except Bob, who wants to be a pool shark.
Later stories reveal that the gang's experiences vary widely when they reach adulthood. In "The Many Happy Returns of Kenny Dawe," the reader learns that Kenny has become a petty criminal. We find out about Suzy's work as a horticulturist and her happy marriage in "Manitoba Maple" but we also discover her misery in dealing with her alcoholic father. In "Bad Eyes" we learn about Tom's experience on the night shift of a construction job and his relationship with Bernie, his boss, who wears glasses and studies but also stands his ground when a biker challenges him.
The stories also view the characters from the perspective of time, distance and even other characters. In "519," Tom's first love affair is described by his girlfriend in an almost lyrical story. In "Snake Island," Suzy and Adrian recall their childhood but Adrian makes it clear that he will not return home except for a funeral.
The final (and title) story finds Tom shattered by the death in prison of Kenny Dawe. He and Adrian take Kenny's ashes to a northern lake where they scatter them on the surface of the water. There, Adrian tells Tom that Kenny died of AIDS, which explains why his corpse looked like that of an old man, though he was only 36. Tom realizes that Kenny's lifestyle shouldn't matter, but somehow it does.
The grey worldview and downbeat mood in these stories is sustained throughout. The style is appropriate for the theme and the varied narratives move well. The cover, featuring a painting of square dancers by Kathi Posliffe, suits the topic. The print is clear making reading easy and pleasant. This collection deserves a wide reading. Students whose background is blue collar may find the stories particularly satisfying.
Katheryn Broughton was born in the prairies and taught high school English and Library skills for nineteen 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.
New York: ACM Press, 1996. 528 pp., softcover, $35.95.
Review by Floyd Spracklin.
Before computers took center stage, the term 'community network' was a sociological concept that described the pattern of communications and relationships in a community. This was the web of community that described how news traveled and how social problems were addressed in the community. New computer-based 'community networks' are a recent innovation that are intended to help revitalize, strengthen, and expand existing people-based community networks much in the same way that previous civic innovations have helped communities historically.New Community Networks is a lengthy discussion and unique contribution to the available literature on the social uses of technology. It reveals how "communities will need to work together to build interlacing (computer) communities of communities that can help address problems that transcend community boundaries." For Schuler the time is very right to be moving towards developing new community networks since the "privatization of leisure," among other factors, has been steadily undermining community life.
Schuler is chair of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility and a founding member of the Seattle Community Network. He has edited several books and articles, including an article in Communications of the ACM that Apple librarian Steve Cisler called "the definitive article on community networks." He is a software engineer who has been working on social issues of computing for nearly 15 years.
In New Community Networks Schuler examines the issues that are essential for the success of a community-based network. He presents a number of eye-opening case studies such as the Santa Monica PEN project, the Cleveland Free Net, and the Big Sky telegraph system in rural Montana. Schuler reminds his readers that community network terminals must be set up in as many public places as possible. Most people do not own computers so easy access at such locations as libraries, bus stations, schools, laundromats, and senior centres should be provided for all citizens. "The use of a text-based community network would offer settings and occasions where the disadvantaged can be accepted as equals." Where the cafeteria or pub once offered a public meeting place to socialize, the computer networks will now offer a "level playing field." Because information is the raw material of knowledge, and knowledge brings power, more and more people will potentially be empowered through the opportunities provided by these new community networks. When given the opportunities of life, people will succeed. Remove these opportunities, and the alternative is failure.
Because Schuler has been personally involved with the creation of a community network, he is able to present both the short and long term concerns involved with such a comprehensive development. The many charts, sample Web pages, and icons together with the multi-level breakdown of topics within the eleven chapters make the book both credible and user-friendly. Between the Table of Contents and rather extensive appendices, any one individual or group embarking on the seemingly overwhelming task of establishing a computerized community network will have many of the resources already at their fingertips.
Whether you are a community library interested in creating a Free Net service or a group seeking ways of improving a community, New Community Networks has the guidelines, the resources, the outlines of the benefits and pitfalls, the organizational charts, and even the necessary evaluation tools. Why try to "reinvent the wheel" when such an invaluable reference is so readily available?
Floyd Spracklin is an English Language Arts Department Head and teacher at G.C. Rowe Junior High School in Corner Brook, NF. He has been teaching, writing, and reviewing literature for twenty-five years. Floyd has published a number of short stories, essays, and poems in Canadian magazines.
Burnstown, ON: General Store Publishing House, 1996. 116 pp., paperback, $14.95.
Review by Alice Reimer.
The old man has his glove off and is offering to shake. The politician instintively reaches for the offered hand, and the old man grips Tommy's soft hand so tightly, a blister breaks. Soon there will be calluses. The Honourable Member for Qu'Appelle-Gumbo smiles through the pain.This collection of ten short stories by Ottawa Citizen columnist Roy MacGregor is an uneven and often sentimental look at Christmas. Proceeds from the sale of this collection go to the Ottawa Citizen Literacy Foundation.
The ten stories vary wildly in both style and quality. From an honest look at a naive white do-gooder living in a northern Native community to the sickly sweet story of a family gathering around the old wood stove; from an insightful and painful look at a man with Alzheimer's Disease celebrating his last Christmas at home to a manipulative and grossly sentimental story of a man who falls asleep in a snowdrift and is rescued by his memories and his mother's ghost.
Unfortunately, where some of the mawkishness of these stories could have been offset by a sure and fluid style, MacGregor's writing throughout is sloppy. He goes for the obvious in metaphor: a family that made its money "touching up" old photographs - "the good old days, painted better than they ever looked" - becomes a metaphor for people waxing sentimental about the past, which MacGregor does throughout the book.
MacGregor repeatedly uses the same metaphors and similes, referring to "fat flakes" of snow in nearly every story. It seems that these stories have been chosen from many years of newspaper columns and not carefully edited as a collection.
I would recommend this book as a gift for a magazine (not book)-loving relative with a sentimental bent. I would not, however, suggest it for the library shelf. While I admire the author's and publisher's generosity in donating the proceeds of its sales to a literacy fund, I cannot recommend it to read.
Alice Reimer is a highschool English teacher in Steinbach, Manitoba.
Volume 22 Number 1.
While Tim Wynne-Jones was writing the collection of short stories for children published under the title One of the Kinder Planets (Groundwood Books/ Douglas & McIntyre, 1993), he felt he was writing better than ever before. His instincts served him well - the book won the 1993 Governor General's Award for Children's Literature.
"I felt I was writing with complete honesty for the first time and each story felt better than the last - it was just a great experience," he said in a telephone interview shortly after the award winners were announced.
Wynne-Jones was ecstatic about winning the award, as well as with the $10,000 prize money. He joked about buying gourmet bird seed to feed feathered friends in the woods near his home 80 kilometres southwest of Ottawa with the windfall.
Like many writers, Wynne-Jones arrived at his profession in a roundabout way. He was born in England, grew up in Ottawa, and attended university in Waterloo. Shortly before he began writing full time, he received a Master's degree in visual arts from York University. To this day, visual images are an important part of his writing process.
"I'd like to think I began writing when I was drawing and started writing in the margins, but I was already thinking in terms of the story behind the picture," said Wynne-Jones. "When you imagine something, the word 'imagine' has the word 'image' in it, and what you want to give readers is an image in their heads."
Wynne-Jones won high acclaim early in his career. In 1979 he won the Seal First Novel Award for the suspenseful adult novel Odd's End. "I felt the $50,000 prize was a good way to begin a writing career. It was quite a start - it's been downhill ever since," quipped Wynne-Jones. Since then he has completed two other novels and eight children's books, as well as an opera libretto, a children's musical and a dozen radio plays for CBC.
Wynne-Jones is perhaps best known for his children's books, in particular three popular books chronicling the adventures of Zoom the cat. He has also won the IODE Book Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award and an ACTRA award.
For the last five years he has lived near Perth with his wife, the writer and calligrapher Amanda Lewis, and three children, Xan, twelve, Maddy, ten, and Lewis, six. Although he doesn't often get the ideas for stories from his children, he said part of the material in Some of the Kinder Planets was inspired by his kids and their friends.
The stories in Some of the Kinder Planets tell the individual tales of nine seemingly average Ontario kids who embark on journeys of discovery and adventure. The collection is intended for children from eight to fourteen years old, an age group that fascinates him. "I just find that age group to be so extraordinary, so bright and interesting and funny ... it's kind of a wonderful golden age," he enthused.
Wynne-Jones commented that Canadian children's fiction has come an incredible distance in the past twenty years. When his first children's book was published in 1976 there were 35 children's books published that year in Canada, and now approximately 400 are published here annually. He noted that many of these books also sell in Europe and the United States. His own books about Zoom are soon to be released in Japan.
The fact that children's book sales are continuing to increase is a positive thing, according to Wynne-Jones, but he believes more books are selling to fewer people. "That is to say the people who believe in books buy a great deal of books, but a great number of kids don't see books at home and their parents don't buy books except at the grocery store - Garfield or something like that," he lamented.
Wynne-Jones strongly believes in the role of libraries in the community. Using the library was an important part of his own childhood. He observed that today there is a tremendous amount of competition drawing children away from books. On his worst days he fears we are living in a post-literate society. "Books don't mean that much in our society, yet books are still the best means of getting information. So I hope books are still around to inform and entertain people down the pike away when the batteries for video games die."
But he still has great optimism for children's writers in the 1990s: "If you write something good eventually it will probably get published. Similarly, if you publish something good it will probably hang around."
Wynne-Jones pointed out that children's books, unlike adult books, tend to stay in print for several years. "The competition is there, no doubt, but if the book is special people will find out about it," he concluded.
Wynne-Jones ended a one-year term as writer-in-residence at the Nepean Public Library in December. In the new year he resumed work on a novel for children. Obviously, he's one of those rare people who takes his own advice: "Just stick with it. Write because you love writing."
Joyce MacPhee writes for Feliciter, published by the Canadian Library Association.
Toronto: HarperCollins, 1992. 134pp., galley, $5.95.
Reviewed by Carol Carver.
Volume 20 Number 6.
Poor Hal graduated from Hero School with only a third-class certificate and has been jobless for six months in this New Age fairytale.
When he spots a notice about a kidnapped princess, he hopes his luck has changed. On the way to King Maze's castle, he stops to rescue a bedraggled dragon hatchling, whom he eventually names Smoke. With the help of two dwarfs, he performs the king's two preliminary tasks but signs a contract without reading the fine print: success means marriage and failure means death.
During his search he battles a sea serpent, three huge birdmen, a slow-witted giant, a mechanical crab monster, and, most trying of all, Princess Lina's sharp tongue. Hal is beginning to have doubts about his profession! They eventually arrive safely home and escape marriage when the princess explains that she did most of the rescuing. The tale concludes with Hal resigning from the hero union and setting off with Smoke on another adventure.
This tongue-and-cheek look at a hero's dilemma is crammed with action and humour. Craddock writes clearly and imaginatively, and the occasional Gothic type adds an old-fashioned touch. However, the subplot of the royal Aristo family seems disjointed and underdeveloped.
Hal, the Third Class Hero is a funny, fastmoving modern fairy-tale that will appeal to both boys and girls.
Grades 3 to 5 / Ages 8 to 10.
Carol Carver is a primary teacher at Dieppe School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Patricia Quinlan. Illustrated by Janet Wilson.
Toronto: Lester Publishing, 1994. 32pp., cloth, $16.95.
Reviewed by Anna Santarossa.
Volume 22 Number 5.
Tiger Flowers is a beautiful book that tells the story of a boy called Joel and his uncle Michael. Joel's uncle dies of AIDS and Joel has to deal with his grief.
Joel remembers all the things that he and his uncle did together. He remembers when his uncle was sick and the things that his uncle could no longer do.
Joel talks to his mother about how he feels: "like I'm in a cold, lonely place inside me." His mother assures him that she also feels that way and that "it hurts a lot right now. After a while it will hurt less." This makes Joel feel a lot better and he goes to sit in the tree-house that he and his uncle had made. After a while he climbs down and picks a tiger lily (Michael's favourite flower) to give to his sister Tara, who is also grieving for her uncle.
I like this book because it deals with two sensitive topics in an appropriate manner. Death of a loved one is something that most of us will face or have faced. It is refreshing to have a book that validates the feelings that go along with the grieving process. I also like the way the issue of AIDS is treated. Joel's uncle had AIDS. He died from it and his family grieves over his death. The family finds that by talking about it and keeping their uncle alive in their hearts and minds they can get through it.
The illustrations lend a gentle and reassuring tone to the story and complement it beautifully.
This is a book that must be on hand in any library. There will be students who will need the gentle guidance that this book offers.
Patricia Quinlan has written several children's books, including Anna's Red Sled. Janet Wilson has illustrated many books, including The Baritone Cat 2 and Gopher Takes Heart.
Junior Kindergarten to Grade 4 / Ages 4 to 9.
Anna Santarossa is a teacher-librarian in Bolton, Ontario.
Please include the following information for their database: your name; email address; your site name; your site address; city/state/country; number of students participating; number of supervisors participating; and grade level(s).
Booklist, the magazine from the American Library Association is available in electronic format at http://www.ala.org/booklist/index.html. This site provides full-text feature articles, bibliographies, book reviews, and best book lists. Every year the magazine reviews nearly 4,000 books for adults, more than 2,500 titles for children, more than 500 reference books and electronic reference tools, and 1,000 other audiovisual materials. Featured articles include author interviews, book-related essays by well-known writers, and a selection of columns. The site is updated monthly, but the e-zine is not published in discrete issues. For more information, contact Ben Segedin at firstname.lastname@example.org.A couple of interesting sites mentioned in the NBNSOFT Content Awards are:
Chemicool Periodic TableSome other sites of interest include from CSOFT:
http://the-tech.mit.edu/Chemicool/ Simply click (or search for) an element and information is instantly furnished, including the element's atomic number, energies, reactions and weight. Curious as to what the most frequently requested are? Recently they've been iron, hydrogen, aluminum, gold, and titanium.
The World-Village Project
http://www.inch.com/~magicxz/website/index.html The premise here is simple but ingenious: if we were to pretend that there were only 1000 people in the world, based on current data and population statistics, how many of those 1000 would be of, say, North American origin? (52) And how many would be Asians? (584). And what would their religion or language be? The results may surprise you!
Play it safe
Two safety checklists for kids include: The Six Rules to Online Safety, which leads kids through the do's and dont's of "surfing the information highway," provides guidelines for face to face meetings with others, what to do if they come across information that makes them feel uncomfortable, and more; and The Eight Rules to Personal Safety, which teaches children what to do in case they are being abused, if someone tries to get them to go in their car, and how to handle many other dangerous situations. Both programs are free to the public and can be downloaded from C-SOFT's Web page at http://www.csoftinc.com.
CM News Bulletin Board is a regular column featuring bits and pieces of notable information that have flowed through the CM office in the last few weeks and may be of interest to you.
Any reader who has news for other CM readers can send it to email@example.com under the subject newsbits. All information is subject to selection by CM and may or may not appear in the column. Please note that CM will not accept any direct advertising in its Bulletin Board column.
Review by Traci Hachey.
Reprinted from the EdRes mailing list.
A quick and easy way to avoid searching in a hundred and one different places for information concerning books, authors, clubs and ordering information, this site has it all. Although colourful enough to attract younger students, Scholastic has turned one site into a resource for teachers and parents as well.
The home page of the site offers a choice of avenues. Students can click on the Surfing Kids icon, parents can click on Parent Talk, and teachers can visit the Teacher's Staffroom.
Surfing Kids offers children a wide range of things to explore. They can learn about the hottest books and authors, enter a monthly contest, or join a club. In Parent Talk, the parent can get information similar to what the child is learning. Parents can also keep up to date with trends in literature and, soon, they will even be able to communicate with each other through this site.
Evaluation: The layout of Scholastic Canada makes it very easy to find exactly what you are looking for. The graphics are kept to a minimum allowing for speedy access. The only advertising is for Scholastic, however it is done in a non-threatening way so that you do not feel pressured into buying anything or into joining any clubs.
Most beneficial to teachers it the Teacher's Staffroom. This link has information on running a book club and about different authors, and provides access to teaching activities, a link to exchange teaching ideas, and a customer service department.
This site is for all teachers who struggle to make it to the bookstore every month to keep updated on the latest and greatest. This site is beneficial to students and teachers and I woud recommend a visit to anyone who wants a quick way to gain information and shop all at the same time.
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.
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