CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 39. . . .June 16, 2017
A Canadian Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Canada’s Kids.
Tania McCartney. Illustrated by Tina Snerling.
Chatswood, NSW, Australia: EK Books (Distributed in Canada by Canadian Manda Group), July, 2017.
32 pp., hardcover, $23.99.
Kindergarten-grade 5 / Ages 5-11.
Review by Johanna Beaumont.
Ai, I’m Oki. I’m 8 years old and my family are Inuit. We speak Inuktitut. I love travel, languages and science, and I’d love to be a pediatrician one day.
A Canadian Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Canada’s Kids focuses on Canadian multiculturalism from the unique perspective of Australian author Tania McCartney. It centers on five charming children from various locations, backgrounds and languages. They are meant to resemble the cultural mosaic of Canada. Rather than delving into the adult Canadian world, such as family, industry and economy, this book simply focuses on the life and interests of children. It includes some surprising events that even some adult Canadians may have never heard of. Since it is written by an author who is not Canadian, it creates an interesting look at how other nations perceive Canadian children. Canadians may read this and find themselves wondering why many core aspects of their childhood are not mentioned. The author’s note explains that the book is meant to “reflect a range of modern lifestyles for the majority of Canada’s children, with a focus on traditional endemic elements and themes, which are in themselves a glorious mishmash of present, past, introduced and endemic culture.” It is an attempt to snapshot modern Canada, through the lens of five specific children.
The book begins by introducing Chloe, Oki, Ava, Liam and Noah and follows them for a calendar year exploring various everyday events, food and activities. The children also attend official holidays and Canadian festivals from many provinces and territories. McCartney also notes “Content in this book has been produced in consultation with native Canadian advisors, school teachers and school children.” The final two-page spread includes a map of Canada featuring some of the events mentioned in the book, fun facts and a list of provinces and territories. For those seeking the book to reinforce calendar knowledge in lower grades, unfortunately the pages do not resemble a traditional calendar. Additional text features include labelled illustrations, selected words displayed in bold, upper case coloured lettering, meandering text and playful speech bubbles throughout.
The explanatory illustrations are simple and do not always provide extensive additional information. This is problematic due to the occasional use of advanced vocabulary and phrases and words in several languages. The most significant flaw in A Canadian Year: Twelve Months in the Life of Canada’s Kids is the absence of a glossary accompanied by a pronunciation guide as it would provide additional understanding and fluency for the reader. A Canadian Year could appropriately be used as a teacher-led classroom support in lower grades. Vocabulary support will be needed to reach sufficient understanding. Upper grades could read this book recreationally but would also need additional support due to some of the vocabulary. The digital art illustrations support younger readers, using primary colours and vibrant secondary colours. A Canadian Year is recommended to spur classroom or individual Canadian research projects in the classroom.
Johanna Beaumont is a literacy specialist at Nukko Lake Elementary in Prince George, BC, and will be pursuing a Masters in Special Education at UNBC this fall.
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