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. Volume VIII Number 5 . . . . November 2, 2001
So begins Prairie Summer, Nancy Hundal's love song to the flat prairie country, the "endless space" that two young cousins visit every summer. Hundal's text is really a prose poem, chock full of imagery and poetic devices such as onomatopoeia, personification and alliteration.
rocket from the road, the grass
Wonderfully warm and vibrant paintings by Brian Deines capture the mood of Hundal's summer prairie memories perfectly. Deines, a gifted artist who grew up on the prairies, illustrated Janet Lunn's historical picture book, Charlotte (1998), as well as Julie Lawson's 1999 book, Bear on the Train.
Nancy Hundal has written five children's books, including I Heard My Mother Call My Name, winner of the 1991 Sheila Egoff Children's Book Prize, and November Boots which was shortlisted for the 1994 Ruth Schwarz Award. Prairie Summer joins a growing number of picture book paeans to the prairies, a genre which has included some outstanding publications, including Jo Bannatyne Cugnet's A Prairie Alphabet (1992), David Bouchard's If You're Not From the Prairie (1994) and Michael Bedard's The Divide (1997). These beautifully illustrated books are particularly meaningful to adults (especially those who are from the prairies) and are likely to be of interest to children only when they are shared with such adults. For teachers and teacher-librarians who have discovered the use of picture books to spark interest and impart information in curricular units, Prairie Summer should prove a valuable addition to their collection. The many examples of poetic devices found in Hundal's lyrical text will make the book an excellent resource for teachers wishing to inspire descriptive writing among older students.
Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian living in Winnipeg, MB.
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