________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 10. . . . January, 2003

cover The Aboriginal Alphabet for Children.

Evelyn Ballantyne. Illustrations by J. Marleen Ross and Norah Head.
Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican Publications, 2001/2.
32 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 1-894717-13-9.

Subject Headings:
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.
Native peoples-Canada-Pictorial works-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**1/2 /4

excerpt:

Aa My father uses an axe to chop wood.

Ff The Metis enjoy good fiddle music.

Ss We enter the sweat lodge for meditation and cleansing.

Uu The umiak is like a canoe or kayak and is used by the Inuit.

The creators of this slim volume are all members of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation of northern Manitoba. Despite the possibly misleading title, each page actually provides a letter of the Roman alphabet in upper and lower case, a full color illustration of some object that begins with that letter, and, as the excerpts illustrate, a sentence that explains or defines the term used to represent the letter. Most of the terms used to illustrate the letters of the alphabet (eg., hand drum, eagle fan and lacrosse) are closely connected to "traditional" Aboriginal communities, particularly those of woods and plains tribal groups, although a few (eg. igloo, kamiik) are taken from Inuit traditions. However, given that the book was to be a contribution to "culturally appropriate resources," it is somewhat surprising to find "Xx Xmas is a wonderful time for everyone."

internal art

     In the main, the simple illustrations effectively communicate the visual meaning although "Jj The children love Shannon's bannock and jam" will have little meaning to children who have never encountered bannock before. The "definition" of "umiak" (see excerpt above) and its accompanying illustration are simply wrong for the "umiak" was an open boat, one closer to a rowboat than a canoe or kayak.

     As the vocabulary that is utilized in the sentences is beyond the reading ability of the book's intended audience, the book will initially require the intervention of an adult or older child.

Recommended with reservations.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

 

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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