CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2006
Find It! Canada's subtitle, A Search and Find Activity Book aptly describes the book's purpose. Consisting of 14 double page spreads of settings which are to represent nine of Canada's 10 provinces and two of its territories, the book calls for its “readers” to find 20 different items in each spread, with the list of these items being placed in a box superimposed on the illustration. The only other text accompanying each spread (and also contained in a box) is a brief description of the illustration's geographic setting (See excerpt.). As well, Sinclair adds an additional “bonus” challenge (and it truly is a challenge) in each spread by adding one Canadian item that does not belong in that particular setting and the reader has to identify what it is. Consequently, a little Bonhomme from Quebec's Winter Carnival can be found in the BC scene, the Wonderful West Coast,” while a seal is basking on a Manitoba beach in “At the Lake.” The words for these various things are then to be transferred to the book's last page where selected letters from the words will be used in solving a word puzzle.
Though each spread lists 20 different things which are to be found, the actual number of items is higher than just 20 as each list requires its readers to find more than just one example of some things. In the above excerpt, the total number of items to be found in the West Edmonton Mall illustration is actually 30. The sole spread which actually contains just 20 total items is “Canada Day in the Capital” and the next lowest are “Winter Carnival” with 26 and “Mall Madness” with 20. The remaining 11 settings call for 40 plus items to be found, with “Stampede!” requiring a high of 65. Sinclair does provide a key to the bonus challenge, but there is not one for the item search. Consequently, if you can't find something, too bad. Keep searching. (I'm still looking for the tenth prairie chicken egg in “Flat Out Fun!” aka Saskatchewan .)
Gauging the audience level for the book is somewhat difficult as some of the spreads contain items well within a younger audience's knowledge base while others are much more challenging. Of the simpler variety is “Glories of the Fall,” an illustration of a Georgian Bay setting in autumn, which only requires children to locate common things, principally from nature, such as dragonflies, chickadees and a chipmunk. Prairie dwellers could have difficulty in identifying a turbot, mussels and schools of herring from Newfoundland's “Go With The Flow,” but then children living in the Atlantic provinces may not recognize words like silo, canola oil and turnip beetle which belong to Saskatchewan's “Flat Out Fun!”
Sinclair's bright cartoon-like illustrations are certainly eye-catching, and while the book may have limited practical value in school or public libraries, Find It! Canada would be an excellent book to take along on those family vacations which call for children to be kept busy during long car rides.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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