CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 12 . . . . February 17, 2006
Canadian Artists. (Scholastic Canada Biographies).
Maxine Trottier. Illustrated by Tony Meers.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2005.
46 pp., pbk., $5.99.
Art, Canadian-Juvenile literature.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.
Review by Elizabeth Larssen.
Cornelius David Krieghoff was born in the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands on June 19, 1815. He was the third of four children. By 1820 his German father, Johann, and his Flemish mother, Isabella, had moved the family to Düsseldorf, Germany. Two years later, the Krieghoffs were living in the Bavarian city of Schweinfurt, where Cornelius's father ran a manufacturing business. It was set up in the common hall of a 12 th century castle, where the family also had an apartment. (From "Cornelius David Krieghoff: Celebrating Life in Quebec.")
Kenojuak Ashevak is one of Canada's most important artists. She works in a remote community in Nunavut, travelling south for special occasions. Her unique designs are known all over the world. But her road to becoming an artist was a long and difficult one. (From "Kenojuak: Designing the North.")
The prolific, award-winning Maxine Trottier scores another hit with Canadian Artists in the “Scholastic Canada Biographies” series. Young readers will be captivated by the biographies of five of Canada's most celebrated artists, each of whom has travelled a unique and often difficult path for the sake of art. Artists profiled include Cornelius Krieghoff ("Celebrating Life in Quebec"), Emily Carr ("Honouring Trees and Totem Poles"), Tom Thomson ("Glorifying the Woodlands"), Alex Colville ("Creating Magic Moments") and Kenojuak ("Designing the North").
Trottier's selection of artists is fairly well balanced, including individuals from different geographic regions throughout Canada, including British Columbia (Emily Carr), Nunavut (Kenojuak) as well as Ontario (Tom Thomson and Alex Colville) and Quebec (Cornelius Krieghoff).
Although the biographies are brief, with only seven to eight pages of text for each profile, they nicely summarize the key details of each artist's life in an engaging yet readable manner. The large type and numerous illustrations provided by Tony Meer make this a suitable book for children who are just beginning to read alone. Colour reproductions of each artist's work, which are interspersed among the text, lend visual interest and provide actual samples of the art, itself, thereby giving an impression of the artist's unique style. Canadian Artists lacks an index, but this is not problematic as each biography is relatively short.
Generally speaking, this book would be most suitable for less sophisticated readers – children at the upper limit of the age recommendation may find Canadian Artists too simplistic if they are reading at a higher level. While it is more likely that the book would be used as supplementary teaching material, it may also be used as recreational reading for budding young artists who have a particular interest in the subject.
Canadian Artists is an excellent introduction for young readers to the lives and works of some of Canada's greatest artists. It would be a wonderful addition to any school or public library collection.
Elizabeth Larssen divides her time between her position at a public library and her studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, where she is pursuing a degree in Library and Information Studies.
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