Edith Newlin Chase
Volume 21 Number 4
This small book — nine pages fewer than the thirty-two-page standard for a picture book — is chock full of information about Canada, and hardly a word is used! In twenty-one lines Edith Newlin Chase (The New Baby Calf) has traced the water's journey from tiny mountain trickle to the boundless sea. Her poetry, rich in onomatopoeia, is rhythmic, like the flowing waters it describes.
Visually the book is breath-taking. Every page virtually shimmers with light reflecting off the water. The endpapers are gorgeous! Ron Broda's luminescent paper sculpture illustrations take the reader on a nature tour of Canada. There are the Canadian national emblem and the provincial and territorial flowers; there are the air, land, and water animals of Canada from sea to sea, north and south.
The words encourage readers to move on, while the illustrations invite them to pause to take in every large and small detail, making Waters a book to return to over and over again. While Waters is not a crass "Where's ..." book, guessing games will naturally occur between parent/adult reader and pre-school child, the audience for which this book is most appropriate. It will become a favourite in Primary classrooms, too, on nature themes. Waters has the added benefit of a key at the end that lists the animals and flowers.
This book does what a good picture-book should do: it combines words and pictures to stimulate a child's aural and visual senses. Moreover, it is an information book that satisfies a child's curiosity and stimulates the imagination. Waters is a work of art.
Theo Hersh is a children's librarian with Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario.
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