________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 1. . . .September 9, 2016



Benoit Tardif.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2016.
72 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-77138-721-7.

Subject Heading:
Cities and towns-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-2 / Ages 6-7.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**½ /4



Featuring 34 large cities around the globe, this wordbook primer introduces young children to the architecture, landmarks, pastimes and popular foods which make each city unique. The book’s endpapers show a large map of the world indicating the locations of the cities. A double-page spread is devoted to each metropolis, with the country, language and population listed in small letters beneath the city’s name. Twelve or more simple cartoon-like drawings, appealing to a juvenile audience, highlight the things that children might see and do if they were to visit. For example, the entry for Montreal includes drawings of Notre-Dame Basilica, the Clock Tower, La Ronde amusement park, the Palais des Congrès (convention centre), Olympic Stadium, typical Montreal houses, a star hockey player, a Montreal-style bagel, a smoked meat sandwich and a “talented musician”. One wonders why the artist would waste valuable “real estate” with a drawing of a talented musician. Why draw a donut shop in Toronto or a rock star in San Francisco? And why is someone dressed in a plaid lumberjack shirt instead of swimming on Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver?

      Though the book is meant to satisfy readers’ curiosity about a particular city and inspire them to visit someday, the likelihood of that happening as a result of this book is rather slim. The publisher’s suggested target audience is PreK to Grade 3, but it is doubtful that many readers of the lower age of the range would bother to do further research or even to wonder about some of the people or objects in the drawings. For instance, there is a trumpeter shown in the drawing of St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow. Would a child be bothered to find out why? And even the child were to do so, the story behind the trumpeter is hardly appropriate for the very young (at the basilica, a trumpet sounds from the taller of the two towers every hour to commemorate the 13th century trumpeter who warned citizens of a Mongol attack and who was shot in the throat while doing so). In another drawing, a sea lion represents Pier 39 in San Francisco, but a little more detail is needed to encourage kids to delve further into the topic. Yes, there are sea-lion sightings on the pier, but anyone who has visited San Francisco will know that this is no ordinary pier for boats. Without further study, readers would not know that Pier 39 is, in fact, a bustling area of a wide variety of shops, restaurants, street performers and entertainment venues, such as an aquarium and a digital theatre with 3D effects. Likewise, with London’s Gherkin and Tokyo’s Mode Gaken Cocoon Tower, without further research, children will be left wondering if these structures are sculptures, office buildings or apartments. (In fact, the former is a commercial skyscraper and the latter houses a number of educational facilities.) A table of contents and a very short glossary are provided, but even the glossary could have been expanded for the reader’s benefit.

Recommended with Reservations.

Gail Hamilton is a former 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.

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