CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Kurelek, William.

Montreal, Tundra Books, c1985. 48pp, paperboundboards, $14.95, ISBN 0-88776-172-0. CIP

Grades 6-12
Reviewed by Alma Webster

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

William Kurelek, the son of a Ukrainian immigrant, and himself experienced at hard labour, became well-known for his writings illustrated with his own paintings. A large percentage of his artistic works dealt in one way or another with the immigrant experience. In this book, twenty-eight of his paintings, along with direct quotations from his writings and additional text by editor Margaret S. Engelhart, make an excellent story of North American immigration. Because there is much similarity in the immigration patterns of Canada and the United States, the editor has elected to describe the life and experiences as North American, a generalized account covering all European settlers. The overall result shows the hard work, the trials, and loneliness of these first settlers with simplicity and honesty. Kurelek's brief comments are easily identified by the use of italic type.

The work is well organized into a logical sequence of fourteen topics, each from one to four pages in length. Each topic is introduced by a single phrase or sentence that is then further amplified. "Everyone living in North America is an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant," "Why they left Europe," and "Getting to the new land" are followed by sections on the work involved, farming, children's lives, religion, family life, celebrations, hopes, and dreams. The book ends with "And the dream did come true for some." The twenty-eight full-colour illustrations have been well selected to complement the text. In fact they provide a wealth of detail not available in the brief text. Like other Tundra books, the reproduction is of the highest technical quality. The whole work, both text and illustrations, is truly an artistic expression. The format of the book and the simple direct text are in keeping with the artist's own style as shown in his other books A Prairie Boy's Summer, * A Frame Boy's Winter, ** and Lumberjack (Tundra 1974).

Although there is neither a table of contents, nor an index, the book can well be used to support curricular needs in the areas of social studies and art, as well as for general reading. In spite of its apparent simplicity all readers should gain from this work a greater appreciation and sympathy for the early settlers. Highly recommended.

Alma Webster, Edmonton, Alta.

*Reviewed vol. IV/2 Spring 1976 p.,79.
**Reviewed vol. XIII/3 May 1985 p.137.

line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are 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 Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works