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Volume VIII Number 3 . . . . October 5, 2001
Martin Brian Mulroney, called Brian, was a shy boy who spent a great deal of time in the library. He loved to read. His leisure time was split between history and biography books and sports. Brian excelled in hockey, tennis, and baseball. He also sang in the church choir. Newspaper editor Colonel Robert McCormick came to town, and Brian offered to sing the Colonel's favorite song. The Colonel did not think an eight-year-old boy would know the words to "Dearie," but Brian did. He sang the song and greatly impressed the Colonel. Brian went home with $50, and every time the Colonel was in town, Brian sang for him.Carlotta Hacker has taken a brief look at the lives of the six most recent Canadian Prime Ministers, excluding John Turner. The style is much like the A&E network's approach to biographies: upbeat, folksy, and incomplete. As an additional source for a research paper, this title may be helpful.
The text is organized into segments. Some information is found in boxes such as a list of "Key Events," which includes dates of important events in these politicians' lives. Other information presented in boxes are a story from their childhood and one called "Backgrounder" where some brief information is given on "The October Crisis" in the case of Trudeau or "The Math Behind the GST" for Brian Mulroney. The remaining information is given in a chronological narrative. The use of these segments or boxes should interest the students who like this style, but there are not so many that the reader gets lost. The book is well written and will appeal to the age group for whom it is intended.
The remaining Prime Ministers, including John Turner, are mentioned in an addendum, "More Great Canadians." A few sentences are written about each one. Reading between the lines, one might assume that Turner was relegated to the back pages because his tenure of 79 days was slightly shorter than Kim Campbell's four months, but no formal explanation is given. This addendum is followed by a glossary, list for further reading, and an index, all helpful additions to this title's readers.
As the Prime Ministers are profiled in chronological order, the omission of John Turner, may cause some confusion. However, if choices needed to be made, it is more important to profile Kim Campbell, Canada's first female Prime Minister, than John Turner. Another option would have been to start with Pearson rather than Diefenbaker.
Most students will probably sample this title for information as opposed to recreational reading which may make the above concern a moot point. This book was interesting reading and may benefit some collections.
Abundant illustrations, extremely lifelike, with attention to detail, are eye-catching and add visual appeal.
Recommended with reservations.
Ruth McMahon worked as a professional librarian for 13 years and is currently co-chairing Alberta's Rocky Mountain Book Award.
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