CM Magazine: CM Volume 2 Number 5

Table of Contents

 Book Reviews

 Woodland Christmas.
Frances Tyrrell.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.
Grades Preschool - 4 / Ages 4 - 8.

 Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories.
L.M. Montgomery. Edited by Rea Wilmshurst.
Review by A. Edwardsson
Grades 4 and Up / Ages 8 - Adult.

 RanVan: A Worthy Opponent.
Diana Wieler.
Review by Elaine Seepish.
Grades 7 - 11 / Ages 12 - 16.

 Truly Grim Tales.
Priscilla Galloway.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Grades 7 - 13 / Ages 12- Adult.

 Dragons of Steel.
John F. Wallace, MC.
Review by J.R. Cordon.
Grades 10 - 13 / Ages 14 - Adult.


 Governor General's Award Winners
 The Little Math Puzzle
 The Great Canadian Trivia Contest

Duncan Thornton

Executive Assistant
Peter Tittenberger

Book Review

Woodland Christmas.

Frances Tyrrell.
Richmond Hill, ON: North Winds Press/Scholastic, 1995. 32pp, cloth, $16.99.
ISBN 0-590-24430-2.

Grades Preschool - 4 / Ages 4 - 8.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.


The animals in this book are:
one gray partridge,
two rock doves, three ruffled grouse,
four common loons, five river otters,
six Canada geese, seven whistling swans, eight raccoons,
nine red foxes, ten moose, eleven red squirrels
and twelve beavers.
The bird in the potted pear tree
is a California partridge,
and the courting couple are black bears.

-- the preface

Christmas books appear in number every year, and most fade away with the season. This one, Woodland Christmas, seems like nothing special in concept: the text is "The Twelve Days of Christmas"; the lovers of the song are anthropomorphized bears; and each day's gift is illustrated. But the animals (both those that are characters and those, like the singing birds, that are gifts) are indigenous to North American woodlands, and their costumes and habits (fur hats and tricorns; skating parties) recall 18th-century European settlements in the New World. And the illustrations also tell the story of an entire courtship and wedding over the twelve days.

The backgrounds -- lakes and chateaux set amid pine-wooded mountains -- are full of Canadian resonance. And every page has the frost and feel of winter, from the bright, snow-white first day, to the twelfth night, when the newly married bears skate in a wedding procession under a star-spread sky.

The illustrations are detailed, highly appealing, and imaginative. On the fifth day, for example, when the courting bear (who looks suspiciously like Santa Claus) gives his True Love five golden rings, we see him present them to her in a jewellery case; but on the facing page we also see five otters curling in the snowy water to form rings of gold. And the twelve drummers drumming are, of course, beavers, who use both sticks and drums and tails and water to make their music.

Younger children will enjoy spotting all of these details, and following the progression of the courtship, from the day the Santa Bear skates over carrying a potted pear tree, through meeting his True Love's family, and finally the wordless double-page spread of the wedding procession, with the bears, the family, and all of the animals from the twelve days joining in. Older children might also enjoy looking into the natural history of the animals depicted. And for any child, or parent or teacher, with a musical inclination, the book closes with the complete words and score of the carol.

The idea, and Tyrrell's illustrations, are curiously affecting; by blending the old carol with indigenous imagery, Woodland Christmas is more successful in making our part of the world seem like the natural home of the ancient holiday than anything since the "Huron Carol" (Tyrrell's illustrated version of that, by the way, like this book, was nominated for a Governor General's award). And using the carol and the animal heroes likewise lends romance to the natural and historical setting.

Holidays still have the power of mystery for young children; Woodland Christmas successfully blends that mystery with images of our own history and landscape. It should become a lasting part of a Canadian Christmas.

Highly recommended.

Diane Fitzgerald is an elementary-school teacher in Saskatoon.

Book Review

Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories.

L.M. Montgomery. Edited by Rea Wilmshurst.
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995. 224pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-7710-6199-4.

Grades 4 and Up / Ages 8 - Adult.
Review by A. Edwardsson.


"That's a Christmas present for you, Anne," said Matthew shyly. "Why -- why -- Anne, don't you like it? Well now -- well now." For Anne's eyes had suddenly filled with tears. "Like it! Oh Matthew!" Anne laid the dress over a chair and clasped her hands. "Matthew it's perfectly exquisite. Oh, I can never thank you enough. Look at those sleeves! Oh, it seems to me this must be a happy dream."

Just in time for the holidays, this new compilation of sixteen L.M. Montgomery stories will be welcomed by her many fans. Editor Rea Wilmshurst has a number of other Montgomery collections to her credit, the first being Akin to Ann: Tales of Other Orphans, and most recently, Across the Miles: Tales of Correspondence.

Most of these stories have not been seen by the public since the turn of the century, when they were published by magazines looking for seasonal tales. For example, "Bertie's New Year" is from the 1905 Pittsburgh Christian Advocate. Fourteen of the stories were among five hundred such Montgomery finds by Wilmshurst.

The remaining two in this book are "Anne" stories -- one from Anne of Green Gables, and the other from Anne of Windy Poplars. The former recounts how Matthew's Christmas Gift of a fashionable puffed-sleeve dress delights unsuspecting Anne. In the later, Anne is now grown and the principal at Summerside High. She invites a teacher -- aloof, sarcastic Katherine -- to travel with her to Green Gables for Christmas:
Then Katherine said slowly, "Why do you ask me? It isn't because you like me . . . Even you couldn't pretend that. "It's because I can't bear to think of any human being spending Christmas in a place like this,'' said Anne candidly.

In her introduction, Wilmshurst asks that "if we find these tales are inclined to tack on a little lesson or give a little sermon at the end, we . . . forgive Montgomery. She did want, after all, to sell her work, and if a few lines of homily would do it, she would add them."

So these are stories with full of the Golden Rule and the happy endings the fit the spirit of the season. They can be sappy and even a tad preachy. For example:
After the merry dinner was over, the junior Osbornes brought in a Christmas tree, loaded with presents. They had bought them with the money that Mr. and Mrs. Osborne had meant for their own presents, and a splendid assortment they were. . . .
"This has been the jolliest Christmas I ever spent," said Frank, emphatically. "I thought we were just going to give the others a good time, but it was they who gave it to us," said Ida. . . . "You've learned the secret of happiness," said Cousin Myra gently. And the Osbornes understood what she meant.

Still, each piece is pure Montgomery, reflecting the conditions, speech, and values of her time with humour and wholesome, plucky characters (from toddlers to the elderly) that could appeal to present-day readers. Generally, these stories are senior fiction for strong readers, but some would appeal to younger children if read aloud.

This is a lovely collection with clean, clear text. There are no illustrations except for the warm colour cover of Anne holding up her new dress. It is a chubby paperback-size volume, a must for Avonlea fans in general, and a nice addition for any holiday collection.

Highly recommended.

A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. She has a Bachelor of Education degree and a Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.

Book Review

RanVan: A Worthy Opponent.

Diana Wieler.
Toronto: Groundwood, 1995. 192pp, paper, $7.95.
ISBN 0-88899-219-X.

Grades 7 - 11 / Ages 12 - 16.
Review by Elaine Seepish.

Rhan Van returns in this welcome sequel to RanVan the Defender. This time the setting is Thunder Bay, where sixteen-year-old Rhan has settled with his grandmother at her eccentric sister's run-down motel. Rhan's obsession with video action games provides much of the imagery and allegory as he meets a truly scary real-life adversary and, once again, a "damsel in distress."

The relationships throughout the story are believable and compelling as the hero struggles with his fragmented family history and need for belonging. Wieler has captured the essence of contemporary adolescence with convincing dialogue and an eclectic mix of likeable and non-so-likeable characters, all the while never shying from using real language. And she skilfully choreographs Rhan's leaps from the fantasy world of the video arcade to the real world of human conflict.

Can't wait for Rhan to move on the third level in the next book!

Highly recommended.

Elaine Seepish is Information Specialist at Instructional Resources Unit, Manitoba Education and Training.

Book Review

Truly Grim Tales.

Priscilla Galloway.
Toronto: Lester, 1995. 144pp, paper, $12.95.
ISBN 1-895555-67-1.

Grades 7 - 13 / Ages 12 - Adult.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.


Sard would never consent to let me die to save his life. I could get along without my left arm. But it wouldn't save his life. It would not even help him to live longer unless he can figure out a process that works. Maybe I can do more for him if I keep my arm. If he runs out of meal, I'll need two arms to nurse him.
I think sometimes of what will happen when the bonemeal is gone. In my thoughts, I can get through the illness. Painfully, with horror, but I know what that would be like. I can get to the Death Palace, with the casket closed and our wedding picture on the top. I cannot get past that. I cannot imagine life after Sard.

Can you figure out which fairy tale this grim story is based on? That's the challenge in each of the Truly Grim Tales. Each story is based on a well-known tale by the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, or Charles Perrault. The sanitized, "happily-ever-after" Disney versions that have become standard fare in this part of the century are turned upside down. Galloway takes eight traditional stories and gives them unusual and macabre interpretations.

Truly Grim Tales follows in the path of such books as Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf in retelling fairy tales from a different perspective. But Galloway's retellings fall into the horror genre, and add information to fill in the holes. Why, for example, did the giant grind bones to make his bread? Why was the prince so fascinated with glass slippers? And what happened to Rapunzel's pining mother?

Truly Grim Tales will appeal to students interested in horror, who will enjoy what Galloway has done with traditional tales. Some of the twists and turns are strange and unexpected, and even a little shocking for those unused to this type of story. Although upper elementary students will be able to read this, and may want to for the shock value alone, teachers may want to read each of the stories before agreeing to such a request.

Recommended with reservations.

Harriet Zaidman is a Winnipeg teacher/librarian.

Book Review

Dragons of Steel.

John F. Wallace, MC.
Burnstown, ON: General Store Publishing House, 1995. 267pp, paper, $19.95.
ISBN 1-896182-04-0.

Grades 10 - 13 / Ages 14 - Adult.
Review by J.R. Cordon.


For the next two days, the LSH, having remounted their tanks, supported 12 CIB crossing the Naviglio. 5 CAR also working out of its tanks took on patrolling activities as well as carrying out the occasional artillery type of tank shoot. To its south, tanks from 9 CAR were split between assisting the 2CIB and 11 CIB as they moved up to the Senio. The BCD contribution to 2 CIB had been instrumental in holding off enemy counter attacks and enlarging that brigade's bridgehead. 2 CAR, in tanks, continued supporting the 5th Armoured Division's two infantry brigade's advance towards the Senio.

Written by a decorated World War Two tank commander, Dragons of Steel is a highly detailed account of the history of Canadian tanks, from their early days in World War One, through the inter-war years, to their eventual triumph in the Second World War. The book contains a wealth of information, and many maps and photographs. The author has drawn upon his own personal experiences in the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, and has an impressive background as an historian.

In order to cover this colourful period of history in a relatively brief space (267 pages), the author has elected to look at the big picture most of the time. Readers who are looking for anecdotal accounts or in-depth character studies will be disappointed. At times, especially in the reporting events of WW II, the book seems to fall to the level of describing a series of acronyms moving about on a relatively blank map, and fighting, or supporting, other acronyms. The prose in these chapters is dense and somewhat dry, relieved only by occasional references to events that sound very intriguing, but leave the reader wishing for more.

Dragons of Steel contains a large number of photographs, many of them showing obscure, Canadian-designed vehicles. These pictures will be of interest to aficionados of military history. Less welcome are the many maps. Some are of poor, hand-sketched quality, and there are even a few glaring spelling mistakes on them.

Despite its shortcomings,Dragons of Steel covers a neglected subject of military history from a unique, Canadian perspective, and is especially informative on the pre- Second World War years. While it is probably too dry for the student with a casual interest, anyone doing serious research on the subject will find it a valuable resource.

Recommended with reservations.

J.R. Cordon teaches history at D.A. Morrison School in Toronto.



Canada Council Announces Finalists
for 1995 Governor General's Literary Awards

Ottawa, November 14, 1995

At a ceremony today at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto, the Canada Council awarded $140,000 to the winners of the 1995 Governor General's Literary Awards.

His Excellency the Right Honorable Roméo LeBlanc, Governor General of Canada, presented the laureates with copies of their books specially bound by master bookbinder Pierre Ouvard.

Each winner received a cheque for $10,000. CM is listing the names of the winners in the Children's categories, along with the jury's citation for each work.

Children's Literature -- Text

English-language winner:

Tim Wynne-Jones, Perth, Ontario. The Maestro. (Groundwood Books)

Tim Wynne-Jones creates a cast of characters that are dark, offbeat, or comic, but always believable. Through encounters with those characters -- his brutal father, the Maestro, a tough woman bush pilot -- Burl's search is made as compelling for the reader as it is for the young boy himself.

French-language winner:

Sonia Sarfati, Montreal, Quebec. Comme une peau de chagrin. (Éditions de la courte échelle)

>From the opening sentence, Comme une peau de chagrin captivates readers with both its style and its content. Written in a lively style that is humorous and poetic, the novel takes an extremely intelligent approach to the subject of anorexia. Also, and just as important, it examine adolescent friendship. Thanks to her style, theme, and thoughtful treatment, Sarfatti has given us a work that will leave a deep and lasting impression.

Children's Literature -- Illustration

English-language winner:

Ludmilla Zeman, St-Laurent, Quebec. The Last Quest of Gilgamesh. (Tundra Books)

A visual epic, Ludmilla Zeman's illustrations magnificently capture the rich and complex Gilgamesh tale. Her innovative technique creates a very dramatic atmosphere. Selective in her use of colour, Zeman has charged the illustrations with burning light and mysterious blue oceans that effectively describe this grand and mythical landscape. (This title will be reviewed in an upcoming edition of CM.)

French-language winner:

Annouchka Gravel Galouchko, St-Jérome, Quebec. Sho et les dragons d'eau. (Annick Press)

This superb work conjures a contemplative state, allowing the reader to travel on the rhythms of the colours. The immense richness of the illustrations is such that each image can stand as a work on its own, filled with magic and splendour.


The Little Math Puzzle Contest

Tom Murray, the coordinator of the The Math Puzzle, has been kind enough to give CM permission to run the weekly Little Math Puzzle Contest (inspired by The Great Canadian Trivia Challenge.)

Royal West Academy (a high school) in Montreal, Quebec is sponsoring a little math puzzle contest.

This contest is open to all participants but is designed for students in grades five through ten. English will be the language used for all problems and if their solutions relate to a language, the language will be English.

Contest Format:

Each week a new puzzle will be presented and the answers and winners from two weeks earlier will be posted. Answers are to be received by 8:00 a.m. eastern time the following Friday.

The answers will then be judged, and a correct answer along with the winners' names, will be posted with the puzzle two weeks later.

Both individual students and entire classes are welcome to participate.

Do not to send your answers to CM. Instead, please send all answers to Andrea Pollock and Alex Nazarov at the following address:

With your solution please include your names, school, grade, and e-mail address, and your city.

Question #9 from two weeks ago was the following:

What are the next two integers?

2, 3, 5, 7, 11, __ , __

Answer #9:

These are the prime numbers so the next two are 13 and 17.

Winners Who Correctly Solved #9

  1. Mrs. Dawson's grade 7 class
    Pilgrim Wood School: Oakville, ON
  2. Roxanne Sullivan, Julia Dunphy, Charles Robichaud, Melissa Furness Mr. Small's Grade 8
    Quispamsis Jr. High School: Quispamsis NB
  3. Hedges Grade 8 Math Class
    Winnipeg, MB
    Mark Kutcy
  4. Sameer Safaya, Grade 8
    German Swiss International School: Hong Kong.
  5. Cory Laite & Kory Gillingham
    Grade Five Class
    Edgar Lee
    Lakewood Academy: Glenwood
  6. Kristen Pelham, Gina Duggan, Jill Houlihan Grade 8
    Derek Leroux Grade 7
    Brian Thompson (2nd try) Grade 9
    Cunard Junior High SchooL: Halifax, NS
  7. Nicole, Candice, Rachel, Heather, Chris, Tracy, Sandy
    Mr. Atkinson's Grade 10 Information Processing: Valleyview, AB
  8. Riley Hilton (grade 9), Vanessa Heichert, Alex Maissan (grade 8)
    General Byng School: Winnipeg, MB
  9. Paul Bosc Grade 6 Teacher, Ecole St-Germain
    St-Vital School Division No.6: Winnipeg, MB
  10. Brad Seigrist - class 8-6
    Hillcrest School: Owen Sound, ON

Puzzle #11

"Man Seeks Order and a Pattern in all Things"

This week's Question #11 is the following:

What are the next two numbers?

61, 52, 63, 94, __ , __

Please remember to send your response by 8:00 a.m., Friday, November 24th to:

Andrea Pollock and Alex Nazarov
Royal West Academy, Montreal West, Quebec.


The Great Canadian Trivia Contest

Steve Caldwell, the coordinator of the Trivia Contest, has been kind enough to give CM permission to run his weekly Great Canadian Trivia Contest, a great way to motivate students to spend some time in the Library.


For those of you access us by way of The Village in Ontario please note that we're having a lot of difficulty with The Village. We have been able to only intermittently receive the Village and cannot send or reply to it.

Therefore we might have missed some correct answers this week and they will be recognized when we receive them. In light of this could respondents please use the address. We apologize to those who use The Village to receive the weekly question for any inconvenience.


Apparently Schoolnet was offline for a time recently and as a result some participants had difficulty finding last week's question. Hopefully everything will be back on line this week. If you ever do not receive the question by Thursday then please contact me.

November 3rd's Question:

On November 11, Canada will commemorate Remembrance Day. Name the Canadian general, arguably the most able Allied general of World War I, who commanded the First Canadian Division at Vimy Ridge and the entire Canadian Corps from then until the end of the War.

British author Denis Winter describes him as ". . . the most effective commander in the British Army during 1917-18 . . ."


Arthur Currie commanded the First Canadian Division at Vimy Ridge and in June, 1917 replaced British general Sir Julian Byng as the commander of the four division Canadian Corps. The Canadian Corps along with the Anzacs (Austalian New Zealand Army Corps) became the storm troopers of the British Army. From 1917 on the Canadian Corps under Byng and Currie "never lost a gun, never lost ground and never failed in an assignment." In August, 1918 the Supreme Allied Commander General Foch chose Currie's Canadian Corps to spearhead the Allied advance which resulted in the surrender of Germany three months later. British author, Denis Winter, states that Currie's "capture of the Drocourt-Queant Switch in autumn 1918 remains the British Army's single greatest achievement on the Western Front."


Not a lot of winners for this question probably because of network problems.

  1. Michael Zorn, Mr. Reeder's Gr.9 history class, Colonel By Secondary School: Gloucester, Ontario
  2. Evan Bonnell, Mr. Reeder's Gr.9 history class, Colonel By Secondary School: Gloucester, Ontario
  3. Kirby Bennett, Mr. Reeder's Gr.9 history class, Colonel By Secondary School: Gloucester, Ontario
  4. Michael Bowen, Mr. Reeder's Gr.9 history class, Colonel By Secondary School: Gloucester, Ontario
  5. Lisa Day, Mr. Reeder's Gr.9 history class, Colonel By Secondary School: Gloucester, Ontario
  6. Casey Tosh, Mr. Reeder's Gr.9 history class, Colonel By Secondary School: Gloucester, Ontario
  7. Tina Ruff, Mr. Dingee's Gr. 7-3 class, Florenceville Middle School: Florenceville, New Brunswick


What were the French names for Cape Breton and Prince Edward Islands when they were part of the French colony of Acadia?

DUE DATE FOR THIS ANSWER: 25 November, 1995


Remember, don't post your answers to CM. Instead, send your answers to Steve Caldwell at the following e-mail address:


In addition to your e-mail address, please send your school's name and the grade and/or class that you are in, as well as your postal address.



Welcome to the second year of The Great Canadian Trivia Contest.

The History Department of Colonel By Secondary School in Ottawa, Ontario is sponsoring a Canadian Studies Internet trivia contest.

This contest is designed to appeal to students in Grades 7 - 10, although other grades are more than welcome to participate.


Each week a new question will be presented. Students participating in the contest will, in all likelihood, have to do some research to find the correct answer to our weekly question.

Questions are based on some aspect of Canadian Studies. Questions will include the subjects of history, geography, culture, natural science, sports, current events, law, and any other aspect of Canadian studies that we can think of.

A new question will be posted every Friday in CM (the trivia contest is also distributed through Schoolnet a few days earlier). Answers must be received by 8:00 a.m. eastern time a week from the following Saturday. Answers will be tabulated, and the correct answer, along with the winners' names, will be posted in two weeks. Thus, there will be a new question each week while the answer and winners will be posted two weeks later.

We plan on offering a few nominal prizes so make sure you let us know where we can reach you. We would also like participants to let us know if they are entering as an individual, a group, or if they are representing a particular class and school. We will try to award prizes for individuals/groups and classes.

Last year we had participants from across Canada and the United States and as far away as China. We welcome all new participants as well as our returning veteran contestants.

Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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