________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 7 . . . . November 24, 2006


P is for Puffin: A Newfoundland and Labrador Alphabet.

Janet Skirving. Illustrated by Odell Archibald.
Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2006.
40 pp., cloth, $24.95.
ISBN 1-58536-287-5.

Subject Headings:
Newfoundland and Labrador-Juvenile literature.
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4


M is for Mummers.

It's a Christmas tradition

when the neighbours come knocking

and enter your kitchen.


Another beautifully illustrated alphabetical tourbook from Sleeping Bear Press, this one brings Newfoundland and Labrador culture to young Canadians. Author Janet Skirving and illustrator Odell Archibald, both new to the children's book scene, have together created a wonderful tribute to life in North America's oldest colony and Canada's newest province.

     Using a simple four-line verse, each letter of the alphabet highlights one unique aspect of the province. Janet Skirving has risen to the unenviable task of choosing only 26 terms to represent the long-standing history and culture of Newfoundland and Labrador. The pirate Peter Easton, the Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, Ugly sticks, Komatiks and fried Toutons are just some terms featured, and to finish the alphabet she naturally chose our half-hour time Zone. (She does resist the temptation to remind Canadians that "a half-hour later in Newfoundland" means that we are actually half an hour ahead!) As with the other provincial alphabet books, side bars are used to explain the concepts pictured and to included additional items beginning with that letter. Thus, the sidebar for G gives further details about the illustrated Gros Morne Park and about Terra Nova, our other national park, as well as information about an another G term, "Gander International Airport." Even though Skirving's rhythm is somewhat uneven and the rhymes often forced (ago/meadows), her verses speak directly to young children while the information in the sidebars will interest older children and adults. A question and answer section at the back called " A Lighthouse of Learning" highlights facts presented somewhere in the text.

internal art

     Archibald's lush canvas paintings celebrate the splendid landscapes and seascapes of the eastern-most province. She has perfectly captured the storm-tossed coastlines, peaceful harbours, Labrador tundra and snowy, dogsled journeys. Although blues are predominant, she varies them greatly to portray the different moods of the ocean, and her reds and yellows in the houses and clothing are especially vibrant. The cover illustration of puffins at sunset is striking and creates immediate attention and the promise of a visual treat inside - a promise that is surpassed.

     This informational alphabet book belongs in every school in Newfoundland and Labrador and should be purchased for classrooms and homes across Canada. A free online teacher's guide written by Cheryl Grinn is available at www.sleepingbearpress.com.

Highly Recommended.

Alison Mews is the librarian of the Curriculum Materials Centre at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, NL.


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.