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Illustrated by Irma Council
Stratford (Ont.), Thomas Martin Publishers, 1993.
43pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 1-896082-00-9.
Distributed by Thomas Martin Publishers,
P.O. Box 21078 Stratford, Ont. N5A 7V4

Subject Headings:
Prime ministers-Canada-Biography.
Canada-Politics and government.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14

Reviewed by Donna J. Adrian

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

The book provides a brief summary of the lives and accomplishments of Canada's twenty prime ministers. Each prime minister has a two-page spread. On the right is an excellent portrait. The left-hand page is divided into two columns: the first lists personal information about the prime minister--date of birth, place of birth, ancestry, parents, marital status, religion, occupation, political party, offices held, age at which he/she became prime minister and cause of death; the second column has several short paragraphs about the successs and failures during the term in office. Each article gives the dates the individual served as prime minister, plus a quotation either by or about the prime minister. This is one of the most interesting features of the book. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms graces the last pages of the book.

The pencil drawings of the prime ministers by Irma Councill are superb. The concept of this book is excellent. However, the personal bias of the writer shows through in every biographical sketch, and there is much editorial comment. It should be noted that the religion of each of the prime ministers was Christian, yet under religion, the denomination is listed.

Some historical errors are evident: Upper Canada did not exist in 1844; the Canadian West was not "wild." In the article on Laurier, either all or no factors should have been mentioned in the 1911 election. In the text on Mackenzie King, the statement, "For nearly thirty years he governed Canada (quite successfully) with the advice of their ghosts" is uncalled for. The reference to his consultation of ghosts through spiritualism is sufficient.

While dated, a more balanced book for grades 8 and up is  The Prime Ministers of Canada: MacDonald to Mulroney 1867-1985 by Christopher Ondaatje (Pagurian Press, 1985).

It is unfortunate that this book, which would meet the needs of students in grades 5 to 9, cannot be recommended, except to schools who would like to use the excellent portraits of our prime ministers.

Donna J. Adrian is a library consultant with the Laurenval School Board in Rossmere, Quebec

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