________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 19 . . . . May 27, 2005


Sun and Storms: Canadian Summer Weather. (Canada Close Up).

Nicole Mortillaro.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2005.
60 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 0-439-95745-1.

Subject Headings:
Summer-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Canada-Climate-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Barbara McMillan.

*** /4

Children interested in weather phenomena and those who simply want to know more about the cause and effect of extreme weather conditions will enjoy Nicole Mortillaro’s Sun and Storms: Canadian Summer Weather. The book’s first six chapters tell about sun and wind, rain and clouds, thunder and lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, and heat waves. Chapter 7 presents weather trivia and some astonishing weather data including the following:

In 1996 the amount of water that Quebec got in its flood in two days was the same as the amount of water that goes over Niagara Falls in four weeks!

     This amount seems plausible given the 1996 photograph of flooded Saguenay, PQ, on page 17. In fact, the use of spectacular colour photographs, satellite images, simple diagrams, and tables of information help to make clearer many of the concepts and events introduced and briefly described in the text.

     Parents and teachers reading this non-fiction book to children may want to correct the anthropomorphism in several of Mortillaro’s statements. On page 10, for example, she writes:

Just think how you feel when you haven’t had anything to drink. You get pretty thirsty, right? So do plants and animals when they don’t get enough rain.

     This is followed on pages 19 and 30 with the adjective “bad” to describe thunderstorms without making clear for whom or what the storm is problematic.

     Adults considering Sun and Storms for young readers will also want to be aware of the simplicity of the explanations that use scientific terminology. Using Mortillaro’s reason for the seasons as one example, one must ask what children are helped to understand, not merely what they may know as a consequence of what the author writes.

We have different seasons because our planet moves around the Sun. And as it moves, it also spins. But Earth doesn’t sit up straight, like a top. As it spins, it tilts a little. So sometimes one part of Earth is tilted toward the sun. That part gets the sun’s rays straight on. When the sun’s rays hit our part of the world this way, we get warmer weather. When we are tilted away for the Sun, it is colder. When more direct sunlight hits Canada, it’s summertime!

     Without question, the book should be discussed with children, and children should be asked to share their interpretations of the information presented. The text alone is not sufficient for developing understanding that is grounded in science.


Barbara McMillan is a professor of early and senior years science education in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

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

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