CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Christine Welldon

Toronto, Grolier Ltd., 1991. 48pp, cloth, $15.25
ISBN 0-7172-2699-9. CIP

Grades 5 to 9/Ages 10 to 14
Reviewed by Irene Gordon.

Volume 19 Number 3
1991 May

This beautifully illustrated book tells the little known story of the Chinese immigrant labourers who worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway construc­tion through the Rocky Mountains. It also tells something of the harsh conditions that led them to leave China and of the equally harsh conditions they faced in Canada.

The content of the book, its tone and format seem geared to upper elemen­tary students. The reading level, however, is so high that only very able readers will be able to read the book without assistance. On the other hand, while the subject matter is relevant and the reading level suitable for junior and senior high school students, the tone of the book seems too young and there is insufficient detail for high school use. Perhaps the following quotation from the book illustrates the problem:

But not all immigrants were greeted in a friendly way by Canadians. Many were made fun of because they had a different language, dress and customs. The Chinese also suffered from additional discrimination. The British Columbia government passed legislative bills which restricted many of their rights ... (including) their right to vote... and as always there was the head tax to be paid by each Chinese immigrant.

Recommended with reservations.

Irene Gordon, Westdale Junior High School, Winnipeg, Man.
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