CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Edited by Margaret Caughey.

Ottawa, ON: Citizens' Committee on Children, 1984.
166pp., paper, $7.00.
ISBN 0-9690205-2-X. Distributed by Citizens' Committee on Children. CIP.

Subject Heading:
Children's literature, Canadian (English)-Bibliography.


Reviewed by Sue Eases.

Volume 12 Number 6
1984 November

Although it is not really novel to ask kids for opinions of why they read, in this day and age of celebrity endorsed package deals those who would publish a list of recommended titles tend to rely heavily on the reputation of its selector and accordingly, through careful marketing, ensure that we accept that person's judgment as authoritative . Kids, however, as they rarely possess the necessary degrees or professional status, are just as rarely asked to assess quality, and demand items (on which they are thought to speak most eloquently) need not earn their shelf space through critical acclaim. Fortunately for the future of juvenile Canadiana, the Citizens' Committee on Children has recognized that quality and demand are not always mutually exclusive, by eliciting a volunteer staff of five hundred young people ranging in age from three to fourteen and asking them to review some twelve books each over the course of a year. There are 260 reviews; each book is therefore read by an average of twenty-three readers, quite a respectable figure. This third in the critically acclaimed series, covering the years 1980-82, also updates its previous volumes via cumulative indices and appendices. Most notable are lists of French language editions of books reviewed, and of titles no longer in print. However, while these same compilers have done an admirable job of collating the various responses, actual reader comments interspersed at random among the reviews make for some very unnerving connections. For instance, Selwyn Dewdney's The Hungry Time is pronounced "a fine introduction to reading and to Indian stories," but is followed by an unrelated "it was mindless and irrelevant and shallow and unconsequential and boring - not worth reading." Certainly a child's statement of preference, especially when elicited, may take any form he or she chooses, but why automatically negate its value as constructive criticism by removing it from the item in question? Perhaps Volume 4 might rise to the defense, since no reason was given here. Nevertheless, this small point notwithstanding, the series is one that should be an integral part of every professional collection. Recommended.

Sue Eases, Toronto, ON.
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