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Ronald C. Kirbyson.

Scarborough (ON), Prentice-Hall, c1983.
345pp, paperbound boards, $15.95.
ISBN 0-13-215533-8.

Grades 6-9.
Reviewed by Keith Wilson.

Volume 11 Number 5.
1983 September.

This is the second of three volumes providing an overview of Canadian history for students at the upper elementary or junior high level. This material is generally well organized and presented at an appropriate reading level, and the book is appealing both in its comprehensive coverage and in physical appearance. Illustrations are appropriately chosen, and the maps are clear.

The authors obviously believe in the use of fictional narrative (based on original sources) to illustrate concepts. Unfortunately, this technique is overdone, and many of the passages become stilted and consequently lose their appeal. Direct quotations would probably be more effective.

The book's main weakness, however, is that it tries to do too much. Not only is the material presented (often quite attractively), but we are also subjected to a chapter on improving our methods of study that is preachy in style and inappropriately placed as the second chapter and to a pronunciation guide that is totally unnecessary and irritating in the extreme. Nor is it consistent. On page 104, for instance, "coalition" is to be pronounced (KOH - uh - LIH - shuhn) while the same word on page 116, is (koh - a - LIH - shyuhn). I frankly cannot believe that students or teachers need this sort of thing.

There are a few stylistic weaknesses, probably because of the involvement of five authors. The question on page 33, "Which of the following have you in person seen?," must surely have been written by a student of Latin or German. And, surely, proclamations are "issued," not "declared" or "announced."

There are also more than a few factual errors. Miles Macdonell's name is consistently misspelled, as is that of Sandford Fleming; on page 22 a letter purportedly written in Upper Canada in 1827 contains a reference to kilometres; the map on page 36 gives the erroneous impression that the 49th parallel became the international boundary in 1812; the book by E.K. Francis is incorrectly cited on page 178. The list goes on; yet despite all these shortcomings, the book contains much attractive material and would be useful as a classroom reference.

Keith Wilson, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB.
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