from Resource Links April 2004, V.9, No.4
Gr. 3-6/Fiction Gr.7-12/French
Resources/Nonfiction Gr. K-6/Nonfiction Gr. 7-12/Picture
Bean's Big Day
Illustrated by Paul Mombourquette. Kids Can Press, 2004. 28p. Illus. Gr. Pre-K - 2.
1-55337-444-4. Hdbk. $17.95
As I write this, every issue of the Globe and Mail's review section features something
about the Oscars. The glamour, excitement and celebration of film will keep many people at
home to see both elation and disappointment. Karen Ackerman's story has a flavour of the
Emperor's New Clothes and Cinderella combined - people who let themselves be taken in by
something new and exciting, and one formerly unnoticed individual who finally has a chance
Paul Mombourquette's illustrations are detailed, emotive and convey the idiosyncrasies of
the residents of Bean, Pennsylvania. We come to know the community hierarchy, values and
approach to decision-making through the lively, rather tart text and colourful
A book to encourage thinking about change, appearances and what's important. Children and
adults alike will enjoy the story with it's fascinating characters and look back in time.
Thematic Links: Film; Community; Making Decisions
Fiction Grades 3-6
The Mariner's Curse
Tundra Books, 2004. 205p. Gr. 3-6. 0-88776-672-2. Pbk. $12.99
When his mother remarried, twelve-year-old Rory Duggan was to stay with his father while
the newlyweds honeymooned in England. But, Rory's father's job called him overseas and it
seemed like a dream come true when his mom and her new husband agreed to take Rory with
them to England. They were taking a cruise after they left England and Rory's biggest wish
had always been to cross the ocean aboard an ocean liner.
However, Rory's enthusiasm evaporated quickly when he collided with a strange old man
within minutes of boarding the ship. The angry altercation with the mysterious old sailor
left Rory apprehensive. His investigations on board convinced him that there was something
sinister about the old man. Rory became suspicious that the old sailor might have been
aboard the Titanic!
This adventure is sure to win the hearts of mystery/adventure readers and would be an
excellent addition to classroom, school libraries and public young readers' sections.
This is John Lunn's first novel. The son of famous writer, Janet Lunn, John is also an
accomplished flute maker, musician, activist and writer.
Thematic Links: Reconstructed Families; Ships; The Sea; Mystery; Adventure
Fiction Grades 7-12
SKRYPUCH, Marsha Forchuk
Dundurn Press, 2003. 244p. Gr. 8-12. 1-55002-442-6. Pbk. $12.99
In this heart wrenching sequel to the highly successful The Hunger, Nobody's Child
poignantly exposes a twentieth century genocide, the Armenian massacre in Adena. This
tragedy and its aftermath are told through the eyes of Mariam, a 10 year old girl, as she
copes with the brutal massacre of her parents, uncle and numerous friends as they worked
in the fields gathering grain. She details the emotional turmoil experienced by her
surviving family as she tries to thread together a meagre existence in a world that seems
exceedingly unjust and uncaring. Mariam and her siblings, together with their friend
Kevork and his aunt, travel home to Marash hoping to find their remaining family still
alive and begin to rebuild a future. Unfortunately, in order to survive the children have
to enter an orphanage.
Six years later, in 1915, they once again face the depravity of humanity as they and
countless other Armenians are forcibly deportation from Turkey and marched into the desert
to die. The family is once again torn apart despite their desperate attempts to stay
together. Rescued by her Turkish friend Rustem, Mariam narrowly escapes being sold as a
slave. She is compelled to accept his invitation to be a guest in his family's home
despite the vehement opposition by his mother. Kevork, separated from Marta, is shot and
left for dead in a mass grave in the desert, but is rescued by nomadic Arabs and nurtured
back to health. Both teens must choose between the security of an adopted home or risk
death to search for the remaining members of their family once again. They are left hoping
that one day they will be united.
Skrypuch weaves an extremely realistic depiction of a cruel and injustice historical time
without resorting to sensationalism. The audience is left reeling from the tragic and
intense emotions experienced by the characters. The sounds and scents of Turkish and
Armenian cultures are vividly brought to life, as the audience is implored to join this
perilous journey. We are left pondering the cruelty of humans and the baseness for human
life felt by so many, juxtaposed against the unwavering sense of family and hope that
sustains the main characters. We are left wishing for their survival and reunion - perhaps
in the sequel.
The book includes a resource list of additional books, web sites and movies linked to the
Thematic Links: Social Justice; World History; Genocide; Death Marches; Family
Relationships; Orphans; Impact of War
Non-Fiction Grades K-6
A Day at the Sugar Bush: Making Maple Syrup
Photographs by Wally Randall. Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2004. 29p. Illus. Gr. 2-4.
0-7791-1411-6. Pbk. $6.99
This book accompanies a young class on a visit to a real "sugar bush". We will
find out how tree sap is made into maple syrup and maple sugar. Every step of the process
is simply explained and complemented by fabulous photographs. The photographs effectively
involve the reader with the depicted action or scene. The book appropriately concludes
with pancakes and ??maple syrup. A timely book as the maple syrup "industry" is
currently being scrutinized by the Federal Government.
The historical note at the end of the action is well laid out and contains valuable
information. The concluding page of notes provides enriched information for those readers
seeking more detail.
Every Canadian school and public library should have at least one copy of this little
Thematic Links: Sugar Maple; Maple Syrup
Non-Fiction Grades 7-12
I Came As A Stranger
Tundra Books, 2004. 160p. Illus. Gr. 7-12. 0-88776-667-6. Pbk. $22.99
In this book, Bryan Prince, a sixth generation descendant of slaves who escaped to Canada,
brings us an in-depth look at the Underground Railroad and some of the people involved
with its operation as well as details of many of the escaped slaves who made their way to
Canada during the 1800s. Prince begins his book with a look at the beginnings of the slave
trade between Africa and the New World which began in the 1500s. He then gives a short
overview of slavery in Canada in the early days of settlement. He then goes on to describe
the conditions under which slaves were living and working on the southern plantations and
their struggles to escape to freedom in the northern states and Canada. Through first-hand
stories, letters, excerpts from diaries and historical photographs, Prince focuses on the
workings of the Underground Railroad and the many "conductors" who helped over
40,000 men, women and children make the perilous trip from slavery in the United States to
freedom in Canada. Prince also gives accounts of what life was like for these people once
they arrived in a "free" country and how in many cases they were still subjected
to prejudice and isolation. He tells of how they established various communities in parts
of Upper and Lower Canada and how many became prominent citizens in those communities.
The book is well researched as Prince has the cooperation of several regional museums in
south-western Ontario and had access to a great deal of material about this period in
Canadian history. He has included quite a number of well captioned historical photographs
which greatly enhance the text. He has also included a time line, suggested reading list,
source notes and a comprehensive index. The last chapter entitled "Tracing Their
Footsteps Today" gives a description of historic sites in Ontario which are dedicated
to preserving the black history of the province.
Prince's book is a major contribution to some of those recently written about the
Underground Railroad and the history of backs in Canada, topics which have become more
prominent in recent years and are included in many of the school curricula throughout the
country. It will certainly be a great supplement for Canadian social studies programs at
the junior and senior high levels. (The book has been promoted as suitable for ages 10+,
however it is much more appropriate for a slightly older audience, thus the recommendation
for junior and senior high levels.)
Thematic Links: Slavery; Underground Railroad; Canada - History; Canada - Black History
The Spelling Teacher's Book of Lists: Words to Illustrate Spelling Patterns
and Tips for Teaching Them - 2nd ed.
Pembroke Publishers, 2003. 128p. 1-55138-167-2. Pbk. $18.95
Jo Phenix is the author of several teacher handbooks on reading, writing, and spelling.
Like her other works, The Spelling Teacher's Book of Lists is designed as a practical
resource for classroom teachers. Her point is that we simply cannot memorize all the words
we need to spell, however, we can learn word patterns. Essentially, this handbook is
exactly what the title suggests - a collection of lists of words categorized in a variety
of ways (e.g. "words ending in ic", "drop the final e"). Phenix
divides these lists into six groupings: Consonants, Vowels, Confusable Spellings, Word
Building, Spelling Rules, and The Evolution of Language, and includes lots of notes and
Phenix makes it quite clear that The Spelling Teacher's Book of Lists is a resource for
teachers, not a collection of blackline masters for distribution to students. She provides
suggestions for creating class and student word lists.
The Spelling Teacher's Book of Lists will be of interest to elementary teachers. High
school ESL teachers, and perhaps resource class teachers, will also find this book a
Thematic Links: Spelling
LAMBERT, Mary (and Guests)
Sing Out Summer Fun
Mary Lambert Productions, 2003. CD. (Pull out has words to the songs and illustrations of
the vocalists). Gr. K-3. MLPCD 1027. $15.99
Sing Out Summer Fun is a wonderful CD compilation of previously recorded songs as well as
Mary Lambert originals. The theme is very upbeat and the music has a jazzy rhythm. It is
different from many of the kids CD's I have listened to in that the lyrics and sound of
the singer/song is not as childish. The songs are appealing because they have incorporated
the voices of children throughout them, but are not in a silly song way. The harmonization
of the singers throughout the CD's is soothing to listen to.
Consisting of 18 songs in total, this CD can be enjoyed by all members of the family as
well as in the elementary classroom. I would recommend this CD to any one that has young
children, teaches in a pre-school or needs a great musical gift for a child.
Thematic Links: Music; Rhyming and Poetry; Lyrics and Songs
Il était une fois: le petit frére du chaperon rouge
La courte echelle,2004. 20p. Illus. Gr. K-3. 2-89021-698-5. Pbk. $7.95
Il était une fois: le petit frére du chaperon rouge is a marvellous retelling of the
Little Red Riding Hood story, with all the necessary characters. However, there's a
twist!! Little Red Riding Hood prefers not to return to Grandma's house after her recent
encounter with the Big Bad Wolf, so her little brother Le Petit Parka violet, offers to go
in her place.
En route he meets not the Big Bad Wolf, but the wolf's little brother who is doing his
best to be frightening........but failing miserably!! Eventually Le Petit Parka violet
actually has to rescue the wolf from where he's fallen in the snow and make snowshoes for
him so he can continue on to Grandma's house and finish the story!
Once there, the unlikely villain dresses up in Grandma's clothes in order to trap Le Petit
Parka violet. However, he doesn't choose well and can't hear through her earmuffs and
can't see through her glasses. The intended nastiness dissolves into play, fun, laughter
and eventual friendship.
The illustrations are done in unusual colours - oranges, mauves and yellows - and their
humour and detail add immensely to the reader's enjoyment.
Children will enjoy this comic twist on a well-known story and might even be inspired to
re-write another fairy tale with which they are familiar. The book would be a valuable
addition to any library, classroom or home.
Thematic Links: Fairy Tales; Little Red Riding Hood