CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 14 . . . . March 17, 2006
A is for Algonquin is the latest installment in Sleeping Bear Press's series of alphabet books on Canadian provinces and territories. As in C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet, each letter is accompanied by four lines of rhyming verse. For example:
The subject range is well balanced and focuses on many aspects of Ontario. All geographic areas are represented, from James Bay in Ontario's north, to the southern tip of Point Pelee. There is a mix of urban and rural locations. Noteworthy landforms, like the Canadian Shield and Niagara Falls, are included, as well as flora and fauna, such as the trillium flower and Eastern white pine. The achievements both of men and women are lauded, including Henry Hudson, Tom Thomson, Laura Secord and Augusta Stowe, the first woman in Canada to earn her medical degree. Ontario's political history is explored with pages on Upper Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald and Parliament Hill. Diversity and culture are celebrated with references to the Wikwemikong Pow Wow and Kincardine Highland Games. The last few letters of the alphabet are always tricky, and having "Y" stand for the phrase embossed on license plates ("Yours to Discover") is a bit of a stretch.
The book closes with a quiz called "More Facts to Discover." Sixteen question are presented with the answers upside down on the same page. Readers can find the answers to "What is the largest freshwater island in the world?" and "What is Ontario's provincial mineral?" by searching the sidebar text. The facing page includes five "Other Ontario Fun Facts."
Melanie Rose's oil paintings realistically capture the beauty of the landscape. The frozen Rideau Canal is illuminated with blue/pink background colors in a nighttime scene. The illustrations are also adept at conveying a sense of time and place. The Upper Canada page resembles a sepia family photograph from the 1800's.
This sophisticated alphabet book will appeal to a wide audience. It offers many classroom applications, and the publisher's website (www.sleepingbearpress.com) offers additional teaching ideas and reproducible handouts. Adults looking for provincial trivia will also be drawn to this well-designed book.
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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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.