Table of Contents
- Wesakejack and the Bears.
- Bill Ballantyne. Illustrated by Linda Mullin.
- Review by Carol Carver.
- Preschool - Grade 3 / Ages 3 - 8.
- Fred's Dream Cat.
- Marie-danielle Croteau. Illustrated by Bruno St-Aubin.
- Translated by Sarah Cummins.
- Review by Leslie Millar.
- Grades 3 - 4 / Ages 8 - 10.
- Kotik: The Baby Seal.
- Angèle Delaunois. Photographs by Fred Bruemmer.
- Review by Carol Carver.
- Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
- Summer of Madness.
- Marion Crook.
- Review by Jennifer Johnson.
- Grades 6 - 10 / Ages 12 - 15.
- Depth Markers:
Selected Art Writings 1985-1994.
- James D. Campbell.
- Review by Grace Shaw.
- University / Adult.
- God's Little Ships:
A History of the Columbia Coast Mission.
- Michael L. Hadley.
- Review by John D. Crawford.
- Grades 10 and Up / Ages 14 - Adult.
- Notable Web Sites
- Collaborative Book Review Project
- The Great Canadian Trivia Contest
- The Little Math Puzzle
- WinBooks '96
From the Editor
As you may know, Harriet Zaidman has been coordinating CM's Collaborative Book Review project, which sees classes from across Canada review the same title, write and post reviews, and reconsider and revise their work in light of what their peers have done.
Well, we also have regular adult reviewers providing another perspective on the titles. So this week, you can read Jennifer Johnson's review of the first book in the project, Marion Crook's YA novel, Summer of Madness, in CM -- and you can compare it to the responses of the participating classrooms (there's a link to the student work in the table of contents, and from the review itself, or you can go to it at:
Collaborative Book Review Project
We hope the project will not just be a way for students to hone their reading and writing skills, but to learn to respond to a book as a made things; not something that drops from the sky, but something crafted by a writer who could have made different choices.
Anyway, our thanks to Orca Books for providing enough copies of Summer of Madness to run this, and to all the participating reviewers, young and old, in the project.
If you have any question or comments, please get in touch with me at the address beneath my name.
--Duncan Thornton, Editor.
Wesakejack and the Bears.
Bill Ballantyne. Illustrated by Linda Mullin.
Winnipeg: Bain & Cox Publishers, 1994. 32pp, cloth, $12.95.
ISBN 0-921368-46-1. CIP.
Preschool - Grade 3 / Ages 3 - 8.
Review by Carol Carver.
Once long ago Wesakejack was travelling. He became hungry. [Peyakwaw
kayas Wesakechak epapamoteyot ke atinotekatew.] He saw bears travelling
toward the fishing rapids. Every year at this time there were many fish
at the fishing rapids. Wesakejack hurried to get ahead of the bears and
get his share of fish. By the time he got there the sun was going down.
So Wesakejack had to wait until morning. When Wesakejack woke up the sun
was shining. The bears began to arrive. When they saw Wesakejack, the
bears stopped on top of the hill. They would wait for Wesakejack to get
Bill Ballantyne is a Native story teller from Saskatchewan who moved to the
Brokenhead Reserve in Manitoba to teach grades two and three. This book,
the third in a series, reflects his championship of the Cree culture and
language -- he tells his tale in both English and Cree.
The legendary trickster, Wesakejack, attempts to catch fish by
spearing them, hitting them with a stick, and grabbing them, but is
unsuccessful. The watching bears are consumed with laughter, but promise
to get some fish for the hapless man. At the end, Wesakejack thanks the
bears and continues on his way.
This yarn is a spare one, perhaps because of the use of two
languages. The plot is basic and uneventful, while the narrative is
rather uninteresting and does not flow smoothly. More careful editing
would have caught several omitted commas.
The cover is colourful, shows action, and foreshadows the story. It depicts Wesakejack as looking somewhat like the photo of the
author. But in general, Mullin's illustrations show a lack of skill:
Wesakejack is not drawn consistently; more colour is needed; and the
bears and fish look like cartoon animals.
This work is at a primary level and can be used in the study of
Native legends. It would function most successfully as a teaching vehicle
in a Cree classroom.
Recommended mainly for use in Cree-language situations.
Carol Carver is a Primary Teacher at École Dieppe School in
Fred's Dream Cat.
Marie-danielle Croteau. Illustrated by Bruno St-Aubin.
Translated by Sarah Cummins.
Halifax: Formac Publishing Limited, 1995.
61pp, paper, $5.95.
Grades 3 - 4 / Ages 8 - 10.
Review by Leslie Millar.
I myself don't care for hockey. And my parents don't like to go out.
When the weekend comes, they only want to do one thing; rest. Read and
listen to music. Watch their kids grow.
Great. Every Sunday, I sat there and I grew, just to please my
parents. While I grew, my wish for a cat grew and grew.
Soon I wouldn't be wishing for a kitten anymore. I'd be wanting a
Marie-danielle Croteau works in the communications field. She wrote two
novels for adults before turning her hand to children's books.
Fred's Dream Cat is her third book for children. In it, she
tells the story of Fred, an irrepressible optimist who longs for a pet
Fred is always convinced that his parents are about to give him a
cat when obstacles suddenly arise. For example, a cat could endanger the
health standards required for the family fish shop, which is attached to
the house. Or Fred's mother is expecting a baby, and it's not a good idea
to have a cat around an infant.
Fred goes to great lengths to persuade his parents that a cat is
reasonable and feasible. He finally hits upon the ultimate plan; infest
the fish shop with mice to force his parents to realize they need a cat.
This plan, like the previous ones, is unsuccessful, and Fred is near to
giving up hope when his parents come through and . . . guess what?
Fred's Dream Cat has large print and short chanters.
It is suitable for both independent reading and class read-alouds.
Vocabulary like rummage, nervous, and studious may prove
difficult for some readers. And some expressions such as in the bag, all
fired up, and I clued in may need explaining. The black-and-white
illustrations by Brunt St-Aubin are very funny.
This short novel is a highly enjoyable read. Told from the point of
view of an articulate eight-year-old, it is rife with humour. Fred is an
engaging and likeable child who will be sure to make you smile.
Fred 's Dream Cat is a light tale of a boy whose dreams
come true, but there are also undertones of misfortune. Fred's parents
worry visibly about accidents that might befall their children. His
friend William's mother and brother died in a train accident. These
details do not overshadow, but balance the comic tone of the story,
giving more texture and depth.
Leslie Millar is a substitute teacher and volunteer in Winnipeg
Kotik: The Baby Seal.
Angèle Delaunois. Photographs by Fred Bruemmer.
Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 1995. 48pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN: 1-55143-050-9. CIP.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Carol Carver.
March 1. Kotik is four days old. Since his birth, brilliant sunshine has
been casting millions of blue shadows on the ice pack and making
sparkling paths shimmer in the emerald green of the sea. Asleep in his
cradle of ice, the baby seal is quite oblivious of the short-lived magic
of the light. Belly up, he lies dreaming, with his tummy well filled and
his two flipper-arms wrapped around his warm little body. He has changed
a lot since he was born. The scrawny new-born lost in his too-large skin
has become a plump little whitecoat. His mother's milk is so rich that in
just four days he has put on three kilos. You could even say that he is
growing right before our eyes.
This third in a series about Arctic animals by Angèle Delaunois tells of the birth,
abandonment, and growing independence of little Kotik, a harp seal.
Information is set out by date, beginning on February 24, when seals are
arriving at ice floes in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to give birth to
their young, and ending three and a half months later with Kotik's
arrival on the shores of Greenland. We see events through the eyes of the
seals: the mother's as she prepares to bear her young, then leaves with
the other adults; and Kotik's from the moment of birth, to losing his
white coat, and finally learning to survive on his own.
The language has a poetic feel, as in "sparkling paths shimmer in
the emerald green of the sea," which can be lovely but does not seem
quite appropriate for a scientific book. The lengthy descriptive
vocabulary (for example, "In the increasing light of the lengthening
days, the microscopic plants that make up the vegetable plankton bloom on
the surface of the water, mottling it here and there with a
phosphorescent green glimmer") could lead to further problems. If too
challenging for children to read, few will choose this book. Perhaps it
is most suitable for read-aloud. Because of the mature language, it is
difficult to give an appropriate grade level for the book.
The seals have been highly anthropomorphized. For example, after the
mothers have left, Delaunois writes, "Deserted by the adults, the vast
floating nurseries are peopled by desperate or resigned baby seals who,
like Kotik, are suspended in a motionless present, waiting for life to
carry on." Attributing human characteristics to animals is not
appropriate in non-fiction.
The photographs by Bruemmer, including many close-ups, are the
highlight of the book. However, they lack captions and it is not always
easy to tell what the photo is about. Twenty words in the text are
italicized and explained in the glossary at the end, but they vary from
the very easy "snout" to the highly complex "amniotic sack [or fetal
membrane]," defined as "an internal membrane enveloping the fetus, the
scientific name for which is `amnios'." There are no subtitles, which
would make locating information easier, only dates, but the type is easy
Schools looking for a highly informative book on seals are directed
to Barkhausen and Geiser's Animal Families: Seals.
Carol Carver is a Primary Teacher at École Dieppe School in
Summer of Madness.
Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 1995. 188pp, paper, $7.95.
Grades 6 - 10 / Ages 12 - 15.
Review by Jennifer Johnson.
It seems that everyone but me knows how to talk and flirt and
exchange feelings. I'm competent at some things: math, science, even
organic chemistry. I can look after the house, my sister, and my animals,
but if they gave grades for understanding emotions, I'd get an "F." I
can't figure out the simplest relationship. My friend Paula says there is
nothing simple about relationships, but she seems to understand
Sixteen-year-old Karen fits into her world with ease. She is confident
and able, except about relationships. Her home is on a cattle ranch in
the Cariboo region of British Columbia and she manages a full roster of
duties and activities. She juggles 4-H projects, friendships, ranch
chores, and family duties. At the end of August, Karen's mom flies to
Edmonton to help her own mother, and Karen faces a whole new set of
To her own schedule she adds her mother's rural postal route,
cooking for a hungry haying crew, and managing her younger sister. When
she discovers that someone is poisoning calves, she becomes aware of an
ugly scheme to force the ranchers to sell out to a local developer. Karen
is drawn into a "summer of madness" as her careful balance of interests
is suddenly overloaded and an unexpected menace intrudes on her familiar
As Marion Crook has proven in her previous novels, she is a skilful
interpreter of young adult concerns and emotions. In Karen, she has
created an able young woman who is equal to the demands of a busy life.
Crook establishes a rural ranching setting and sets Karen very comfortably
in that world. For urban readers, the wealth of detail about daily life
in ranching country is exotic, but the messages about community and
capability are positive and have broader application.
Crook has experience plotting and pacing mysteries from her
"Susan George" series. In Summer of Madness, the escalating harassment
suffered by the ranch families and Karen's quick thinking in the face of
fear and real physical danger are well set-out and delivered. The
emotional support Karen gets in light of her retaliation is effective as
In a book that explores emerging sexual attraction and emotional
sharing so effectively, it is unfortunate that Crook also introduces a
psychic element. The "mind-to-mind connection" which Karen and Kevin
share is a distraction from their real need to articulate their feelings
to one another. For young readers who experience the same insecurities
that Karen does about self-image, appearance, and relationships, this
extra-sensory intimacy may prove a distraction. The psychic element could
be a good primary focus for another novel, but it is not a successful
addition to a book already abundantly supplied with character and
The cover of the paperback is a definite asset. The photographic
composite of a young woman in repose over a foothills meadow is
attractive and should move the book off the paperback racks and into the
hands of readers.
Jennifer Johnson works in Ottawa as a children's librarian.
Summer of Madness was reviewed by classes across Canada as part of the Collaborative Book Review Project. You can read the students' reviews at the Collaborative Book Review Project site.
Selected Art Writings 1985-1994.
James D. Campbell.
Toronto: ECW Press, 1995. 397pp, paper, $25.00.
University / Adult.
Review by Grace Shaw.
What is perhaps the most haunting of these portraits and sites (of
Krausz) is not the dramatic specificity of their portrayal -- the
conviction and solemnisation of their focus and their execution -- but
the psychic intensity one intuits working there, that intangible aureole
of clairvoyant intent that permeates imaged and abstracted spaces alike.
It might be interesting to speculate about how many intellectual
connoisseurs of art there are in Canada. James D. Campbell's wide-ranging
collection of forty essays on Canadian and international art (most
previously published between 1966 and 1994 in a variety of sources) is
truly erudite, a work of art in words. An art lover and analyst, the
author seeks to "think through some of the true meanings of art" by
absorbing the physical manifestations of the works and then looking
For those who can travel with him, Campbell offers a unique and rare
journey, perhaps uncharted in this country. There is a beauty in his
language; it is a poetry of the esoteric that a special audience will
savour and enjoy.
But the more mundane of us might question the need for using two
large words when one small one would do; is it bafflegab? Keep your
Perhaps every book needs to be written, fills a void -- in this case,
in the culture of visual art and its exposition. Depth Markers fills that
Not recommended for high school libraries, but will provide a
challenge for university readers and serious humanities patrons.
Grace Shaw is a teacher at Vancouver Community College.
God's Little Ships:
A History of the Columbia Coast Mission.
Michael L. Hadley.
Madeira Park, B.C.: Harbour Publishing, 1995. 308pp, cloth, $28.95.
ISBN: 1-55017-133-X. CIP.
Grades 10 and Up / Ages 14 - Adult.
Review by John D. Crawford.
As with other missionary groups, the Mission's early involvement with the
Native peoples of the British Columbia coast shows little inclination
towards the concept of dialogue. In fact, the Mission's ministry was
strongly marked by a paternalistic approach which was itself cast in the
mould of British imperialism.
This history of the Columbia Coast Mission of the Anglican Church covers
a period that began early in the twentieth century and continued until
the early 1980s, when the Mission's operations ceased. It is a story of
people who sought to provide both spiritual and medical services to
coastal communities of south-western British Columbia. God's Little
Ships is also the story of an institution that saw its purpose
gradually eroded by modern advances in medicine, transportation, and
The Mission owed its conception and birth to the Reverend John
Antle, who was its guiding force for over thirty years. His successor,
Reverend Alan Greene, retired in 1959, when the great days of the Mission
were drawing to a close. Many others play smaller roles in this
history and come to life in its pages. There is much detail about the
ships and hospitals of the Mission, and the picture that emerges is one
of a keen sense of discipline and orderliness overcoming the limitations
of the environment in which the Mission operated.
This sense of almost military organization is emphasized by several
illustrations showing the Mission's officers in uniform, and is evident
in their authoritarian, paternalistic attitude towards the Native
peoples, whose ceremonies -- such as the Potlatch -- they condemned.
Professor Hadley's sources are drawn from church archives, newspaper
and magazine articles, and a wide range of other materials. Many
anecdotes come verbatim from the sources and reveal much of the character
of their period and of the individuals who wrote them. Many of the
Mission's officers lived a spartan life, and there is also a clear sense
of the isolation and vulnerability of many people living in the small
coastal communities, particularly in the early years when modern forms
of communication were absent. God's Little Ships implicitly
lauds not only the Mission's work in supplying spiritual and
medical support, but also in providing social intercourse and the sight of
fresh faces to lonely people.
The content of God's Little Ships is largely
chronological, with some diversions into specialized channels. The index
is very useful, as are the notes on sources. Professor Hadley has been
selective in his inclusion of anecdotes, but there is an excellent
bibliography that provides a guide for readers who seek additional
detail. God's Little Ships is a fine tribute to the people
and institutions of an organization that played its part in the history
of British Columbia.
Highly recommended for libraries emphasizing B.C. history.
John Crawford is a retired teacher/librarian living in Victoria, BC.
Notable Web Sites
Every week, CM presents a brief collection of
noteworthy, useful, or just interesting sites we've turned up and actually
Please send us URLs and evaluations of any web-sites you think
deserve the exposure.
- The Great Canadian Hairy Star Party:
A Guide to Enjoying Comet Hyakutake, the Great Comet of '96
- Okay, you must have heard about Comet Hyakutake by now, right? Finally, a comet that works, not just that blurry little snowball that was our turn at Comet Halley. This is the Hyakutake page from Canada's ScienceWeb. Best viewing is March 25, so bone up on this fast.
- Ethics in Science
- You know, after robots and spaceships, the best part about science is the ethical quandries. ("What happens if we press this button? I dunno, let's find out!") This site may be worth several hours of Star Trek re-runs in its ethical content.
- African Primates at Home Home Page
- A little slow, but lovely, and --
"Where else can you *hear* a chimpanzee scream, a gorilla chest-beat, and a
mangabey whoop-gobble? Follow the trail to explore these and other
primates' East African habitats.... (brought to you by a research
Source: Gleason Sackman
- M.E. (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) Youth WWW Page
- Okay, now that it's made the cover of the Rolling Stone, maybe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome will finally become a hip disease. It's a serious problem, and large numbers of children have it. Point 'em here if they need information or support.
- Internet Anagram Server
(formerly known as: Inert Net Grave Near Mars)
- Okay, after all of that science and medicine we're rounding off this week's notable web sites with the Anagram server. I typed in my e-mail address address (cmeditor) and got a long list back, of which the most sadly appropriate seemed to be
and, just for this week,
The Writers' Development
Writers In Electronic Residence
are pleased to announce
A Fabulous Literary Contest for
Canada Book Day, April 25, 1996.
WinBooks '96 is open to intermediate and high schools across the country (i.e., grade seven up) on
New Canadian Library
The NCL features Canadian letters, poetry, fiction & essays - from Stephen Leacock and Susanna Moodie to Hugh MacLennan and Margaret Atwood - that will be familiar to most teachers in Canada. The first three school names to be drawn will win:
- Complete sets of the New Canadian Library (over 90 books!)
- Generously donated by McClelland and Stewart The Canadian Publishers
Writers In Electronic Residence Library
The WIER Library features books by writers who have worked online in the Writers In Electronic Residence program - from Lionel Kearns and Katherine Govier, to Kevin Major and Susan Musgrave. The next two school names to be drawn will win:
- Complete sets by WIER authors (over 100 books!)
- Generously sponsored by Canada's SchoolNet
(All prizes based on books in print.)
Only correct entries will be considered for the draw. To be eligible, you must complete the following information:
- Name thirty Canadian writers (living or dead) from Canada's provinces and/or territories .
- That means three writers from each of the provinces and/or territories you choose - any combination of provinces and territories will do.
- List one book title for each writer you name.
- HINT: See the
Writers In Electronic Residence Web site for some clues (look under Writer Biographies.)
Answers may be submitted online here to:
The Writers' Development Trust.
or by Canada Post:
The Writers' Development Trust
24 Ryerson Avenue
- School name and class
- Contact person
- Telephone and fax
For more information, please contact us at the address, above, by phone at (416) 504-8222, or by FAX at (416) 504-9090
- Canada Book Day, April 25, 1996
Our email address is:
Find out more about
The Writers' Development Trust.
at the Writers In Electronic Residence site.
Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without
The Manitoba Library Association
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