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Produced by Victor Levin; directed by Joanne Culley

Mead Educational Services, 1990. VHS cassette, 24:00 min., $109.90 (includes guide). (Meet the Canadian Author series).
Distributed by School Services of Canada, 66 Portland St., Toronto, Ont. M5V 2M8

Grades 3 and up/ Ages 8 and up
Reviewed by Joan Hewer.

Volume 19 Number 5
1991 October

Hard times preventing costly author visits? Read on!

Viewers become immediately capti­vated at the opening of this video featuring popular Canadian children's author Ian Wallace. We, the viewers, become part of a rapt audience as he energetically dramatizes one of his early works, The Sandwich(Kids Can Press, 1977). Clever camera work allows us close-ups of Ian's expressive face and the book's actual illustrations and long shots showing us the audience's reactions.

The 24 minutes seem to whiz by, as the program is broken into student-sized segments showing Ian discussing his work with an unseen interviewer, Ian actually working at the typewriter and drawing board, Ian conferring with his editor, and, throughout, Ian sharing his final products with students at school.

Also packed into the program are numerous tips for budding authors, some philosophy on children's literature and art, some understanding of the life of an author, and some rationale for teachers who like using children's literature. We also get a biography of Ian Wallace, with actual photographs of him as a child, his family and home. Students gain a perception of authors as "real" people.

The importance of such videos for students is not so much that they get to meet, almost "live," one of their favour­ite authors, but that they see an accom­plished author/illustrator at work and see him going through the writing process in much the same way they are required to in school. They see some of the struggle, time and effort that precede a good piece of work. Teachers receive reaffirmation of the value of the process and some justification for using picture-books with students of all ages.

The video comes with a guide, which includes pertinent data, a glossary, activities and a complete author sketch. This is one of a series that features about twenty Canadian children's authors. School libraries should begin a collec­tion and share; board offices should acquire the set and loan out. Such an opportunity to enhance the language program should not be missed.

Joan Hewer, J.D. Hogarth School, Fergus, Ont.
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