CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 20 . . . . June 8, 2001
Calgary, AB: Weigl (Distributed by Saunders Book Company), 2000.
Grades 4 - 9 / Ages 9 - 14.
The Lords Day Act prohibited Canadians from playing sports on Sundays. Children could not even go tobogganing on Sundays. Only golf was allowed, because, as one judge remarked: "It seems to me to be similar to a gentleman going out for a walk on Sunday and as he walks, switching off the heads of weeds with his walking stick."At long last - a look at the past century with a distinctly Canadian flavour! Though world events are discussed (the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Chernobyl disaster, to name a few) the main focus of this series is what happened in Canada that shaped the lives or drew the attention of Canadians all across the country. Readers will be captivated by stories of inventions (e.g. the snowmobile, Trivial Pursuit), epidemics (polio), disasters (Hurricane Hazel, the Quebec ice storm), modern-day heroes (Terry Fox, Rick Hansen) and more - stories that made national headlines as well as many of local interest. (Some stories will evoke fond memories for adult readers, too. Who can forget TV shows like "Front Page Challenge" and "Mr. Dressup,"or personalities like "Our Pet" Juliette and Wayne and Shuster? What about the Eaton's catalogue and Winnipeg's "Blizzard of '66?")
Sharing a similar layout, all of the volumes begin with an introduction and a time line of the decade. Their 19 chapters (which include such topics as trends, world events, political issues, literature, science and technology, fashion, music, immigration and Canada/US relations) are titled identically for consistency. Students will find the "slang" boxes particularly amusing for many of the phrases coined decades ago are still spoken today. Each chapter is a double-page spread with coloured heading bars at the tops of the outer edges.
Vocabulary is fairly simple, and the text easy to comprehend. A table of contents, glossary and an index are provided. There is also a section of short activities (true or false, matching and multiple choice questions), designed to test readers' recall, at the back of each book.
Abundant black-and-white archival photographs and colourful photos and maps enhance the text. Clever use of coloured backgrounds, strategically placed, enlivens the layout, particularly in the earlier volumes in which almost all of the photographs are black-and-white.
Though the series represents merely a general overview of the past century, the volumes are, nevertheless, fascinating reading. For those students who require more information, a list of books and internet links is provided for further research.
Not to be missed!
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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