CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 3 . . . . September 30, 2005
Jasper Explores the Pacific Coast is a storybook in which the story consists of a search by a stuffed bear, Jasper, for his “Little Girl,” presumably his owner. In his search, Jasper visits a number of popular tourist sights in British Columbia. His companion, Tundra, is a stuffed toy dog who wears a red bandana. Along their journey they see a monster and make a friend.
This book is for very young children. The story is told using juvenile language such as “cuddle buddy” for stuffed bear and “swimmies” for bathing suit. The story, itself, is mainly an account of places visited, with a bit of curiosity thrown in about what they see, such as totem poles.
The illustrations in this book are beautiful, full-page colour photographs of famous British Columbia scenery. Placed into these photographs are the story’s characters in the form of stuffed toys. We see Jasper and Tundra with the Ogopogo statue in Kelowna, on a trestle bridge in the Okanagan Valley and on the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. We later see them visit the Butchart Gardens in Victoria and surfing in Tofino. The illustrations are effective, and adding these story characters will increase children’s interest.
There are some confusing parts to this story. Tundra complains that “Ogopogo took our backpack,” part way through the story. Even though the Ogopogo statue at Kelowna was photographed earlier in the story, it was only referred to as “monster,” and this later reference using the actual name seems sudden and without the kind of direct reference that children need to connect things. Later, the photograph showing the backpack being pulled up onto a dock shows two young children with fishing rods watching. There is no reference to children in the story, and they seem out of place. No other photograph in this book shows humans.
Very young children will enjoy the pictures in this book and that there are stuffed animals in the pictures. They may not miss that there is almost no story.
Robert Groberman is a grade one teacher at David Brankin Elementary School in Surrey, BC.
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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.