CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 17. . . .January 9, 2015
Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, bursts into bloom each spring with its dazzling, multicoloured display of hundreds of thousands of tulips. But the annual Canadian Tulip Festival is more than a magnificent floral spectacle. A Bloom of Friendship tells the story behind this impressive event, providing a captivating historical account of Canada’s involvement in World War II, particularly in connection with the Netherlands.
A 2004 edition of A Bloom of Friendship, illustrated by Ashley Spires, was published by Lobster Press as part of its “My Canada” series. In this 2014 edition by Whitecap Books, the design format has been changed, eliminating the illustrations and adding more photographs and graphic elements. This change gives the book a more factual tone with the inclusion of numerous authentic photographs and other graphic depictions of the subject matter.
The text by Anne Renaud is well-written, and its narrative flow makes it easy to understand. The information is concise, and the book’s layout with coloured text boxes adds interest and further explanations to complement the text. These text boxes include some entitled “History Fact” and others with personal anecdotal accounts. A timeline and glossary are also included.
The reader will immediately be engaged by the attractive format blending text, text boxes and pictures within a double page spread. The large number of photographs, mostly archival but interspersed with recent coloured ones, are of varying sizes, including many full and half page pictures. These photographs, together with maps, posters and newspaper headlines, draw the reader’s attention to the details and information within the picture itself. The reader is then led to the caption and finally to the information and text boxes. This provides a rich experience of reading historical nonfiction.
By Renaud’s setting Canada’s involvement in World War II within the context of the Canadian Tulip Festival, the reader can see the connection between the present and the past. Renaud reveals the meaning of the tulip as a symbol of the close relationship that developed between Canada and the Netherlands. The gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs by Princess Juliana in 1945 signifies the gratitude of the Dutch people for providing a safe refuge for the Dutch royal family during the war and for Canada’s role in the liberation of the Netherlands. The continued and prolific presence of the tulip in our nation’s capital each spring symbolizes this lasting “bloom of friendship” between the two countries.
A Bloom of Friendship is a useful research book, an excellent read-aloud which will lead to interesting discussion, and a book that will appeal to any young reader curious about Canada’s role in World War II.
Janice Foster is a retired teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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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.