________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 17 . . . . April 26, 2002

cover Canadian Girls Who Rocked the World.

Tanya Lloyd. Illustrated by Joanna Clark.
Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books, 2001.
128 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 1-55285-203-2.

Subject Headings:
Teenage girls-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Women-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Teenage girls-Canada-attitudes.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Sheila Alexander.

*** /4


It was just after 11 p.m. when sixteen-year-old Marilyn slipped into Lake Ontario. The water was dark and cold, lit only by the glow of lights from Youngstown, New York. From the beginning, Marilyn set a determined pace. Fifty-five times a minute, her arms churned through the water. Her goal, a breakwater off Toronto, was more than fifty kilometres away ... For a moment, Marilyn stopped. She floated in the water and turned exhausted eyes towards the boat. Her coach waited, allowing her to make her own decision. Her parents, in a boat just behind her, struggled to stay silent. Then, she turned back to the water and began her steady front crawl once more ... To the cheers of thousands, she was lifted from the water and carried to a waiting ambulance. She was the first woman in history to swim Lake Ontario.

This collection of anecdotal, interpretive biographies focuses upon the success stories of notable Canadian women, organized into the five categories of sports, new world, arts, science, and an eclectic group labeled "rocked to their own drummers." The author lauds the achievements of twenty-nine historical and contemporary individuals, such as Nancy Greene, Madeleine de Verchres, Alanis Morissette, and Joanna Karczmarek. Each entry, covering two to three pages of text, briefly outlines one woman's circumstances, hardships, and accomplishments. Inserts highlight facts about the featured individual and similar successes of non-Canadian women. In most cases, a website address is provided for more information. Each entry concludes with a photograph and goal statement of a young Canadian girl of today. Black and white photographs or line drawings and an attractive layout add to the appeal of the book.

     The introduction to the collection emphasizes the adventurous nature of the lives of those who pursue dreams and includes a list of four steps for "how to rock the world." The content of each entry also supports the conclusion that the author's primary purpose is to inspire young girls to establish and work towards achieving their personal goals. Comprehensive and impartial biographical information appears to be a secondary concern. Apart from brief acknowledgments and photo credits, the specific sources of information are not indicated, and there is no bibliography.

     A few of the entries adopt language and a perspective related to the first inhabitants of Canada which, while common in the relevant historical periods, would not be considered appropriate today and which do not provide a balanced interpretation of events for young adolescent readers. Furthermore, the information and photographs suggest that only five non-white women are featured.

     Despite these reservations, the book will be enjoyed by many young adolescent girls. Furthermore, the entertaining narrative and conversational style of writing, which transports the reader into the events, might encourage some young people to search out other biographies.

Recommended with reservations.

Sheila Alexander is a Middle Years Teacher Candidate in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

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