________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 7 . . . . November 23, 2007


The Kids Book of Canada at War.

Elizabeth MacLeod. Illustrated by John Mantha.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2007.
72 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-003-8.

Subject Headings:
Canada-History, Military-Juvenile literature.
Heroes-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4


At the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, you can see weapons, uniforms and medals from many of the wars in which Canadians have taken part. A life-size model of a World War I trench puts you in the midst of the conflict, while a mock-up of the D-Day landing in World War II lets you see exactly how the brave Canadians advanced.

The best day to visit the museum? Definitely November 11. A window has been carefully positioned so that at 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day each year, the sun shines through onto the gravestone of Canada’s Unknown Soldier. This soldier represents all Canadians with no known grave who died in any of Canada’s wars.


Though 1885 was the last time a battle was fought on Canadian soil, Canadians have taken an active role in other countries since then, serving as soldiers in battles as well as peacekeepers. Consisting of 19 chapters plus a timeline, The Kids Book of Canada at War covers different types of wars ranging from the first contacts of Europeans with aboriginals to battles over the fur trade, French versus English, and battles fought on land and sea. MacLeod begins with an explanation of the reasons why wars are fought and provides information about a variety of war-related topics, starting with the arrival of the Europeans in Canada and discussing, in chronological order, the wars in which Canada has taken part, ending with the Korean War. Some of the topics include the changes in technology and weapons used in fighting wars (from the earliest muskets and cannons to the sophisticated weaponry used today), the role of women during the First and Second World Wars, war brides, the use of spies, and Canada’s increasing role in peacekeeping and disaster relief. There is also information about a number of the nation’s forts, monuments and museums which are open to tourists. Scattered throughout the book are several types of fact boxes providing additional information. “Canadian Courage” boxes highlight people such as Laura Secord, Sir Sam Steele and William Stephenson, while “We Stand on Guard” boxes describe sites to visit, some examples being the fortress in Louisbourg, Upper Canada Village and Fort Anne Historic National Park. There are also “Did You Know” boxes and a “What Happened When?” timeline bar which describes, for instance, the events leading up to and including a specific battle. A table of contents and an index are provided along with a timeline beginning with the arrival of the Vikings in Newfoundland in 1000 and ending with the opening of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa in 2005.

     MacLeod explains the facts clearly, without bias. Her writing style, along with the inclusion of fact boxes, moving first-person accounts, interesting artifacts and wonderful illustrations, helps history come alive. A copy of John McCrae’s now-famous poem, “In Flander’s Fields,” shown in McCrae’s own handwriting along with some details of his war service and the background for the poem, make the poem more meaningful for children. The illustrations are abundant and range from colour photographs of museums and forts to black-and-white archival photos, maps, and drawings. There are pictures of war stamps and posters as well as copies of logbooks, personal letters, telegrams and a soldier’s application for enlistment to the army.

     Definitely worthy of purchase, this book is an excellent summary of an important part of Canada’s history.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.