CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Rosemary Neering.

Markham (ON), Fitzhenry & Whiteside, c1983.
48pp, paper, $3.95.
ISBN 0-88902-613-0.

Grade 3.
Reviewed by Jane Robinson.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

The Canadian Families Program is a series of books at each grade level from 1-3 that follows the themes of the current social studies curricula. Although not all the books planned for the series are available as yet, each book is to use a story format in presenting information about a particular family in a particular community in Canada. Prairie Horizons, confusingly referred to in the publisher's catalogue as both "Book Two" and "Book D" of level three, focuses on a Ukrainian family who move from Winnipeg to Lloydminister. The two children in the family, unbelievably and inappropriately ignorant of the wheat farming done in Manitoba, learn all about it shortly after arriving in Lloydminister. Although the ignorance of city kids provides a logical reason for the detailed explanation of Lloydminister's major industries, the author seems to have forgotten that the city kids in question come from a prairie province. They would already know something about wheat farming, at the very least that wheat is made into bread.

Each of the five chapters in Prairie Horizons deals with some aspect of community living, a major theme in grade 3 social studies. Following each chapter, map work and questions highlight the central ideas of the chapter and help direct class discussion and study. While there are some interpretive questions requiring inference and other higher level thinking skills, the questions are mostly literal in nature, requiring only direct recall. The last two pages provide questions for further study, covering a wide range of pertinent topics. A teacher's manual is also available for each grade level.

Black-and-white photos of the area taken by the author add realism and clarity to the story. In addition, there are two types of illustrations. Detailed and precise drawings complement the summaries of wheat and oil from their origins as raw materials to their commercial uses. The rest of the story is illustrated in sketchy, one-colour drawings that only hint at the characters and their activities.

As a resource book for the grade 3 social studies program, Prairie Horizons is well suited to its audience as to concepts, style, and length. It has some value as a teaching aid and is conveniently set up for classroom use. As a work of fiction, the story is contrived, and the characters are not convincing. There are many good trade books that more naturally deal with the concepts of the social studies curriculum, and I would recommend researching and using these in the classroom rather than purchasing this particular book.

Jane Robinson, Christ the King School, Winnipeg, MB.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are 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 Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works