________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 22 . . . . June 22, 2007


Hook, Line, and Sinker: Everything Kids Want to Know About Fishing.

Italo Labignan. Illustrated by Jock MacRae.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books, 2007.
64 pp., pbk., $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55263-549-0.

Subject Heading:
Fishing-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Val Ken Lem.

*** /4


If you are going to release the fish you have caught, be as gentle as possible when you are handling it and removing the hook. Be careful not to touch the eyes or gills of a fish, which are very sensitive. Try not to drop the fish: its eyes may get scratched on the ground, and its slime may come off on the dirt or grass.


Italo Labignan is well-known in Canadian fishing circles for co-authoring several books on fishing and The Encyclopedia of Canadian Fishes (Waterdown, ON.: Canadian Sportfishing Productions, 1995), as a former editor of Canadian Sport Fishing Magazine, and as host of the television program Canadian Sportfishing. The present volume is a welcome addition to a neglected area in Canadian juvenile publishing. Library And Archives Canada only records one other English language title with the subject heading Fishing—Juvenile literature: Hadley Dyer and Bobbie Kalman’s Fishing in Action (Crabtree, 2006).

     Short chapters introduce topics such as Places for fishing, Fishing tackle, Different methods of fishing, Fishing step by step, What to do with the fish you catch, and Know your fish: an illustrated guide. Some content on three double-page spreads of “Fishy Facts” is not well-suited to this book geared to North American recreational fishing in both fresh and saltwater. Four “Jump In!” spreads feature activities: Make your own tackle box, Catch your own bait, Make your own floats, sinkers, and lures, plus Tie your own knots. In general, the text is basic and easy to read, but the description of how to scale a fish is far from clear:

Start scaling the fish near the head by pushing the dull knife or fish scaler against the scales all the way down to the tail. The scales will pop off.

     The colourful, professional illustrations by Jock MacRae usually suit the text or activities very well, although there are a few problems. The same illustration is used for steps 3 and 4 of tying a Palomar knot, and it might be helpful to see an ice chipper or ice auger in the scene featuring two ice fishers. Readers may also be confused by the inclusion in the illustrated guide of a warm freshwater fish called pickerel that is more commonly known in the US as a chain pickerel or eastern pickerel. Canadians, at least in Ontario, often use the term pickerel to describe the walleye, which is actually a member of the perch family while the pickerel depicted is clearly a member of the pike family. The use of photographs of smiling children with their catches adds a nice reminder that recreational fishing can be lots of fun, but inclusion of a few more visible minorities would be more representative of the fishing public.

     Some additional features are the common Fishing tips, and Safety First tips found at the top of many pages, along with a few Eco-tips and more Fishy-facts. The safety tips are appropriate for young readers. The Fishing tips often include valuable information not included elsewhere in the book, and not indexed in the basic index. One good example is the tip that:

In most places, kids won’t need a fishing license, but adults will. Adults should find out about the fishing regulations for their area from the provincial or state government.

     Similarly, one Eco-tip mentions that local fishing regulations will inform the reader about the legal size of a fish that you are allowed to keep. Labignan should have also mentioned fishing seasons, and use of local guides to eating sport fish that address levels of toxins from environmental pollution.

     Despite the shortcomings, Hook, Line, and Sinker is a good introduction to the topic of recreational sport fishing and should find a ready audience across English-speaking North America. The information on catch and release fishing recognizes the importance of conservation.

     Measurements are given both in the imperial and metric systems.


Val Ken Lem is a catalogue librarian and subject liaison for history, English, and Caribbean studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.


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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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