CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 8. . . . December 13, 2002
Canadians are an independent-minded people with a strong sense of their own identity. That identity varies greatly from one part of Canada to another, from English-speaking Toronto to French-speaking Montreal, from the fishing villages of Newfoundland on the east coast to the central prairies, and from the city streets of Vancouver in the west to the Inuit settlements of the Arctic north.
Unlike the typical atlas--a collection of maps teeming with place names--this one downplays the places and offers readers interesting information about the countries whose maps it includes. The entire atlas is comprised of double-page spreads. In the first section of the book, readers are given general information on how to use maps, how the land and oceans were formed, natural regions such as forests, grasslands and tundra and the earth in space. Of particular interest is the spread entitled "The World in a Day," which gives specific examples of occurrences, both natural and controlled by humans, which take 24 hours. A few examples: in a one day period, six tons of meteorites hit the earth, a bamboo plant grows 46 cm and more than 2,000 planes take off and land at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Following the introductory section of the atlas, colour-banded to distinguish it from the rest of the book, are physical maps of the world's continents and countries, starting with North America and Canada. Details provided include area, population, religion, currency, flags, life expectancy and major languages. Each country is introduced by several general paragraphs. Sidebars, quick facts, diagrams and photographs provide additional information. The banded border contains the map grid so that readers can find places easily. Metric measurement and Canadian spelling are used throughout the book. Ironically, the atlas's main strength is also its weakness. Much depends on the way in which the atlas is to be used. Readers looking for a plethora of places will find this type of atlas lacking, while those searching for a brief overview of a country and its culture will find it fairly useful.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in East St. Paul, MB.
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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.