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Ainslie Manson. Illustrated by Ann Blades.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 1992.
32pp., laminated board, $13.95.
ISBN 088899-140-1. CIP.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8
Reviewed by Linda Holeman.

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

This is a delightful chronicle of Canadian history in picture-book format. In short, uncomplicated sentences, Manson recounts the facts of Alexander Mackenzie's 1793 voyage across Canada to the Pacific coast. By focusing on the dog throughout, Manson keeps the details simple enough for the young reader.

The big brown dog, called Our Dog by Mackenzie, his voyageurs and native guides, was determined not to let his beloved master out of sight. He swam beside the canoe, ran along riverbanks when the water was too swift, walked through dark forests, and even climbed mountains when it was necessary to travel overland.

Our Dog warned his fellow travellers about dangers on the trail, and chased away other animals who tried to take their food. He slept under the stars at night, and had to hunt for his own meals. Near the end of the journey, Our Dog grew so exhausted that he became separated from the group, but is happily reunited with them at the end of the book.

With the use of Mackenzie's diary of the trip, Manson, who has also written a biography of the explorer, has given new insight into this historical journey. She shows how Our Dog and different native guides who helped Mackenzie along the way are instrumental in making the trip successful.

Anne Blades, a familiar award-winning illustrator, has created lovely, soft, simplistic illustrations that complement the text.

This book is highly recommended for the Primary grades as a charming and well - researched introduction to historical non - fiction.

Linda Holeman, a former elementary teacher, now writes full time in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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