Carroll, Canada and community
Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
by Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll's classic 1872 poem provides the context for this surreal 21st century rendering - complete with blood, guts and gore, a guardian angel and a happy ending. Jorisch's stark lines, strong colours and layered images will have enormous appeal for video-savvy adolescents who may be guided to discuss topics such as media influence, war and gender roles.
"Beware the Jabberwock," warns the Old Man, wearing a military hat and blue-grey trousers, while the Young Man, in a brown suit, sews dresses in the world of mimsy borogoves and eats dinner in front of the television. The Old Man's fears appear as full-screen projections of "the jaws that bite and the claws that catch."
The Young Man's war is seen in his giant shadow - like smoke from a smouldering fire - on a wall of graffiti. An angel figure joins him for a thoughtful time in the woods, which look like part of an enormous art show, before he faces the truly fearsome Jabberwock, whom he fights valiantly - with cartoon-style sound effects - under the sheltering wings of his angel.
As the Young Man returns home with Jabberwock's head in a basket, the bloody battle scene resolves into a pastoral setting; smoke rises from a farmhouse chimney, a woman walks her dog and a photographer rests his camera. On the Young Man's return the Old Man, who had exhorted him into battle, dies in a paroxysm of joy and is carried to the cemetery past empty mannequins and outdated images of war. A few mourners follow with a giant bouquet.
On the final page, three children have emptied a basket and sit on the curb examining the rodent-like Jabberwock.
This book won illustrator Stéphane Jorisch the 2004 Governor General's Literary Award for children's illustration.
Jabberwocky (Visions in Poetry series), Kids Can Press, Toronto, 2004, ISBN-13: 978-1-55337-079-6, ISBN-10: 1-55337-079-1, hardcover, 40 pages, $18.95, tel 416-925-5437 or 1-800-265-0884, fax 416-960-5437, www.kidscanpress.com
Other books in this series include The Highwayman, The Lady of Shalott, Casey at the Bat and The Raven.
Bonnie Beldan Thomson teaches kindergarten for the Durham DSB.
The Best Country
Why Canada Will Lead the Future
by Satya Das
Reading The Best Country I got the feeling that Canada has been like one of those wonderful students whose work habits, skills and successes could be a model for others but who unfailingly shies away from the spotlight and remains in the shadow of more brash and confident students.
Secondary teachers looking for a book to spark discussions, debate and essay papers about Canada's history, domestic policy and its role in international affairs will find a veritable treasure trove: Laurier's pronouncement that Canada "shall fill the twentieth century," Trudeau's vision of a "just society," the Land Mines Treaty, the International Criminal Court, the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Das contends that a high standard of civilization depends on the advancement of human rights, security and development. He opposes the idea that a country's quality of life involves "building significant military capacity and using economic prowess to secure their own prosperity with scant regard for the progress of others."
Canada has an obligation to lead, he says, by setting an example of how to further human rights, peace, education, health care and equal opportunity for all in a multicultural, borderless world.
He does not ignore Canada's inglorious past either. From the killing of Newfoundland's Beothuk to the policies of exclusion, such as the head tax on Chinese immigrants and the wartime internment of Canadians of German and Japanese descent, to the mistreatment of Jews, blacks, Sikhs and First Nations, it's all here.
This is a thought-provoking and refreshingly optimistic book.
The Best Country, Cambridge Strategies, Edmonton, 2003, ISBN 0-97311340-5, softcover, 188 pages, $19.95, tel 780-420-0505, fax 780-420-1256, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Vert is a JK/SK teacher at the Island Public/Natural Science School in Toronto.
Coming to Canada
Building a Life in a New Land
by Susan Hughes
Another valuable addition to the WOW Canada! series, this fascinating account of immigration is written at a Grades 6-8 level but will also be of interest to older readers.
One section - Building a Nation - presents theories about how the first peoples arrived here, then skips to French settlements established in 1604 and continues with the Acadian expulsion and the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists, black Loyalists, travellers of the Underground Railroad and the Irish.
Going West covers the building of the railway by Chinese workers and the movement of Icelanders, Ukrainians and Italians into the west. A New Century describes the Komagata Maru Incident, treatment of the Japanese during World War II, the arrival of war brides and people displaced during World War II.
The Changing Face of Canada looks at the arrival of people from many other nations as a result of wars - Hungarians, Afghans, Somalis and American draft dodgers.
Throughout, images of artifacts and art bring historical events to life and each chapter is followed by a two-page, four-colour Spotlight - most related to the preceding chapter but a few covering stand-alone topics. One - Come to Canada! - describes promotional schemes encouraging immigration.
The book includes a useful timeline of world events and Canadian immigration, a resource list of web sites and an index to specific topics. It is both a useful research resource and a good cover-to-cover read.
Susan Hughes provides insight into the painful aspects of immigration history as well as the parts to celebrate.
Coming to Canada, Maple Tree Press, Toronto, 2005, ISBN 1-897066-46-5, softcover, 112 pages, $19.95, distributed by Raincoast Books, tel 1-800-663-5714, fax 1-800-565-3770, email@example.com
Margaret Grift is library consultant at Brampton Christian School.
The Kids Book of Canadian Prime Ministers
illustrated by John Mantha
by Pat Hancock
Students will love the easy-to-read text and colourful illustrations in this newly updated version of a Canadian history classic. Documenting past and present prime ministers, this book demonstrates a rich heritage of dynamic leaders - with timelines and biographies that bring our history to life.
The book begins with a chapter on government and our federal system. Elections, parliament and the House of Commons are reviewed. Prime Ministers are then listed with several interesting anecdotes about their time spent in office. Milestones during each term and major political issues of the day are noted.
Portraits of each prime minister bring to life the personalities and a timeline provides a visual perspective of Canada's short but influential political history.
From MacDonald to Martin, this is a fascinating, fun read for all ages.
The Kids Book of Canadian Prime Ministers, Kids Can Press, Toronto, 2005, ISBN 13: 978-1-55337-740-5, ISBN-10: 1-55337-740-0, hardcover, $19.95, 416-925-5437, tel 1-800-265-0884, fax 416-960-5437, www.kidscanpress.com
Andrea Murik is a Special Education resource teacher with the Simcoe County DSB.
The Kids Book of Canadian Exploration
illustrated by John Mantha
by Ann-Maureen Owens and Jane Yealland
This excellent reference book is beautifully produced and visually pleasing. Each page is generously and colourfully illustrated by Toronto artist John Mantha with large text laid out in columns for easy reading.
Sections - there are 24 in this deceptively slim book - range chronologically from native migrations to North America to space exploration. Colour-co-ordinated text boxes complement the main storyline.
The section on Jacques Cartier, for instance, includes a sidebar on Verranzzano (Cartier's immediate predecessor), a Milestone describing trade with natives, a profile of Marguarite de la Roche and a Did You Know on illnesses, as well as six illustrations and a map. A timeline and index are also included.
Of particular note are the four sections on the technology of exploration - which students will find fascinating. Early navigational tools, like sextants and astrolabes, are clearly and simply explained, as are the various types of sailing craft used in the 1500s. Arctic explorations include a discussion of wilderness survival. Even mapping technology gets attention, right up to modern-day GPS systems.
In fact, many connections to the contemporary world are made. Owens and Yealland refer to museums, train trips, companies and sites related to the topics under discussion. It's enough to make a teacher organize a school trip! There is much for the eager student to learn in this thorough and well-thought-out reference book.
The Kids Book of Canadian Exploration, Kids Can Press, Toronto, 2004, ISBN 1-55337-353-7, hardcover, 56 pages, $19.95, tel 416-925-5437, fax 416-960-5437, www.kidscanpress.com
Ian Stuart teaches at Regiopolis-Notre Dame High School, Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic DSB.
Crazy About Canada
by Vivien Bowers
This non-fiction book provides answers to questions about Canada submitted by school children from across the country.
With illustrations and photographs throughout, topics range from why the best potatoes are grown in PEI to how the design of the Canadian flag came to be. Many topics match the social studies, history and geography modules of the Ontario curriculum for Grades 4 through 8.
Canada's cultural diversity is acknowledged, different languages spoken are mentioned and questions about First Nations history are answered.
This engaging book would be a useful addition to school libraries serving Grades 4 to 8.
Crazy About Canada, Maple Tree Press, Toronto, 2006, ISBN 1-897066-48-1, softcover, 96 pages, $19.95, tel 416-304-0702, distributed by Raincoast Books, tel 1-800-663-5714, fax 1-800-565-3770, firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurel Van Dommelen is a Senior children's librarian with the London Borough of Enfield, England.
My Community and Its Helpers series
by Bobbie Kalman
This series of beautifully illustrated non-fiction books would be a wonderful addition to any Primary classroom library. Easy-to-read text and plenty of full-colour photographs will be sure to engage students.
Veterinarians takes a journey through a vet's office and shows how to properly care for domestic animals. Wild animal surgeries, shelters, farms and zoos are also covered to demonstrate the versatility of the animal-care profession.
Firefighters is a very colourful depiction of what it is to be a firefighter. Fire trucks, equipment and fire safety are highlighted. There is a special tribute to firefighters who died in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 but the book also shows other jobs that firefighters do in the community, such as attending car accidents, fighting wildfires and assisting emergency medical staff.
Ambulance drivers, police officers, utility workers and disaster relief agencies are featured in Emergency Workers, which gives a realistic view of many behind-the-scenes jobs. Life in a busy emergency room is the focus of Hospital Workers, which includes information on X-ray technicians, lab assistants and surgeons. A section on staying safe and basic first-aid is included.
Each of the four books in the series provides a glossary and an index for easy reference. A how-to-become section for the professionals mentioned is included at the end of each book - prompting students to think about future careers. This is a fun way to teach children about the people in their community whose job it is to keep us and our neighbourhoods safe.
My Community and Its Helpers series, Crabtree Publishing, St. Catharines, 2004, softcover, each 32 pages, $9.86, tel 905-682-5221 or 1-800-387-7650, fax 905-682-7166 or 1-800-355-7166, www.crabtreebooks.com, email@example.com
Andrea Murik is a Special Education resource teacher with the Simcoe County DSB.