________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 18 . . . . May 12, 2000

cover Who Wants Rocks?

Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak. Illustrated by Vladyana Langer Krykorka.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press Ltd, 1999.
24 pp., pbk. & cloth, $7.95 (pbk.), $17.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-588-1 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-589-X (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Gold mines and mining-Yukon Territory-Juvenile fiction.
Prospecting-Juvenile fiction.
Mountains-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-6 / Ages 6-11.
Review by Helen Arkos.

*** /4


"This is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen," he said. "And if it wasn't for rocks, we would have torn it all down."

He sat there for a long time enjoying the scene, the fresh, fresh air, the smell of the trees and the sounds of nature all around him. Tears came to his eyes.

"These are the riches I have been looking for all my life," he said. "Thank god for rocks."

image Old Joe is a prospector trying to strike it rich in the Yukon. Unable to restrain himself, he yells out "Gold!" at the top of his lungs whenever he comes across some of the precious yellow grains. The area is instantly inundated by other prospectors, and everyone seems to be getting richer and richer, except for Old Joe. The shouts of "Gold!" are heard around the world, bringing prospectors and miners from all over with their picks and shovels. They dig so much in their search for the precious metal that they dig right through one mountain after another, reducing them to rubble. Joe realizes that there will not be too much left of his beloved Arctic if the digging continues. Instead of shouting "Gold!," he comes up with the idea of shouting, "Rocks!" Of course, the reply he hears to this is, "Rocks! Who wants rocks?" and people leave his mountains alone. Old Joe comes to recognize that his true riches are in the beauty that he sees around him.

Michael Kusugak has taken a slice of Canadian history and constructed a story about environmental impact - an excellent way of introducing the issues surrounding the development of wilderness areas both in Canada's past and today. Vladyana Langer Krykorka teams up with the author again to illustrate the story. Dreamy water colour washes provide the backgrounds, and pen and ink fills in the details. Her illustrations of the flood of prospectors are reminiscent of actual photos taken of the line-ups of gold-rushers on the trail of the Chilcoot Pass.


Helen Arkos is the teacher-librarian at John Pritchard School in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364