CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 17 . . . . April 27, 2001
"Canadarm, Cavendish, chinook, caribouFrom an alphabetical listing of choice and clever, rhyming couplets on the end pages, readers are invited to explore the Canada as seen by the talented team of Kevin Major and Alan Daniel. Our Canadian culture leaps off every page in this absolutely delightful and unique view of Canada. This ABC tour-de-force brings together our vast and diverse country, with harmony and humour, both in text and images.
Each page represents one letter with a collage of amusing, boldly colourful objects to represent the witty words chosen. Initially, I was confused by some of the words and objects chosen by the author and illustrator, as several were not familiar images to me, but after reading the glossary, entitled, "The Choice of Words; The Choice of Images," I realized this was the intent: to introduce new terms; to discover the obscure about our country. This listing of information gives fascinating "tidbits," meant to help the reader interpret the choice words as well as the unique images.
Using a blend of historical artifacts, people and images, with modern and contemporary objects, the boldly coloured illustrations take us on a voyage and celebration of our country, from sea to shining sea. And what a celebration it is! Daniel innovatively constructs a fascinating combination of illustrative styles and subjects, from folk art, paintings, and papercutting, to metal sculptures, toys, soap stone and wooden carvings. These comic drawings defy the use of one medium and, instead, employ a mixed media of layered, infused images flowing into and intermingling with each other. But the results are pictures that are cleanly executed and composed, filling each page, and providing an informative and pleasing picture book/quiz/dictionary effect. It is a visual world that expands, sharpens and reinforces Major's words with pictures that are lively, varied, appealing and entertaining. I especially loved the Jackpine in the form of a puzzle, a Mountie with a turban and the Habitant couple as puppets.
This book will bring readers of all ages to a fuller appreciation of our Canadian identity while expanding their visual and verbal vocabularies. Although the appeal is to older children and adults, anyone, young or old, will be able to relate to at least one of the images in this book. Because of its unique approach to introducing information about Canadian places, people and heritage, this wonderful potpourri is a must for history buffs.
Reesa Cohen is an Instructor in Children's Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
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