________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 9 . . . . January 6, 2006


A Bloom of Friendship: The Story of the Canadian Tulip Festival. (My Canada Series).

Anne Renaud. Illustrated by Ashley Spires.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2004.
24 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-894222-89-X.

Subject Headings:
Canadian Tulip Festival-History-Juvenile literature.
Flower festivals-Ontario-Ottawa-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.

Review by Grace Sheppard.

**** /4


The Canadian Tulip Festival, the largest in the world, is celebrated every year in Ottawa. Visitors come from around the globe to see more than three million tulips paint a kaleidoscope of colour on the Capital's grounds. The beauty of the floral gift that began in 1945 is a reminder of the safe haven we provided so long ago and a tribute to the thousands of Canadians who fought and died during the dreadful months of conflict that gave way to the liberation of Holland.


This attractively designed, well-written book explains the background of the Canadian Tulip Festival. As an integral part of the story of the festival, Anne Renaud gives a concise description of events leading to World War II. This description leads to an explanation of the Dutch Royal Family's escape, first to England, and then, for Princess Juliana and her daughters, to Ottawa.

     When the war ended, Princess Juliana presented Canada with 100,000 tulip bulbs. These bulbs symbolize Holland's gratitude for the roles that Canada played during the war - both as a safe haven for the royal family and as a liberating force for the Netherlands. At that time, the bulbs were planted on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

     The tulip tradition has continued since then, with gifts of 20,000 bulbs being sent to Ottawa each fall. The first official Canadian Tulip Festival took place in 1953, brought about by photographer Malak Karsh's suggestion to the Ottawa Board of Trade.

     In addition to describing the origin of the Tulip Festival and the Dutch royal family's time in Ottawa, Renaud tells the story of those who remained in the Netherlands throughout the war. Readers will also learn about D-Day, the Battle of the Scheldt, the Battle of Rhineland, and the role that Canadians played in liberating the people of the Netherlands. This war history is told clearly and succinctly; Renaud has summed up many years of complicated events in a few pages and an easy-to-read timeline.

     Alongside the straightforward narrative of the royals' lives in Ottawa and the war, Renaud presents “Instant History Facts” set off from the main text in coloured boxes. As well, there are reproductions of contemporary newspaper clippings and photographs to add interest to the text. The pages are also enlivened with cartoon illustrations by Ashley Spires. These bright pictures, combined with the attractive overall design of this book, will entice readers across Canada to share in the interesting history of the Canadian Tulip Festival.


Highly Recommended.

Grace Sheppard is a Children's Librarian with the Ottawa Public Library in Ottawa, ON.


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

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