________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 10 . . . . January 18, 2002

cover The Kids Book of Canadian Firsts.

Valerie Wyatt. Illustrated by John Mantha.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2001.
56 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55074-965-X.

Subject Heading:
Canada-Miscellanea-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Ian Stewart.

*** /4


Ice hockey is a Canadian first. So is table hockey. The first table hockey game was built by Don Munro in his Toronto basement out of household odds and ends.
Originally meant for his children, the game went on sale in 1932 and soon became so popular that the whole family had to pitch in with demand. Mrs. Munro even crocheted tiny goal nets.

image There is no shortage of fascinating fact books on Canada in elementary school libraries and classrooms, and we can find special tidbits of information about our nation in each and every one of them. There is certainly a bit of glory in revealing that unique bit of minutiae that speaks to the singular character of our history and people, and Valerie Wyatt's informative book is neither exceptional nor deficient in this regard.

     Wyatt examines a wide ranging representation of topics: explorers, transportation, scientific discoveries, communications, sports, food, and she includes a time line of the event. Each entry is marked either with a symbolic maple leaf or a globe. The maple leaf indicates a specifically Canadian first, while the globe indicates a world first. This approach properly allows her to include and describe specifically Canadian firsts alongside Canadian world firsts. This is a very innovative way of incorporating parallel information. In the section on transportation, the toboggan and the snowmobile are described as world firsts because they were first used and invented in Canada, but the first car and transcontinental railway are listed as Canadian firsts because their origins and the first completions were in other countries. In the medicine section, we learn that Emily Stowe was the first Canadian woman doctor, but Banting and Best and Norman Bethune had world firsts in their discovery of insulin and use of mobile blood-transfusion units.

     The decision to highlight the majority of the "firsts" by using colourful sketches or photographs of the inventors, inventions, and events adds immeasurably to the text. The illustrations, in addition to adding to the readers' enjoyment of the text, will also increase students' identification with these persons who have added so much to our nation's historical character. The Kids Book of Canadian Firsts will be an appropriate addition to any library or classroom collection.


A bowler, Ian Stewart revels in the knowledge that five pin bowling was invented, in 1908, by Canadian Thomas Ryan. Ian is also a teacher in Winnipeg #1 School Division.

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

Copyright 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