from Resource Links June 2003, V.8, No.5
Fiction Gr. 3-6/Fiction Gr.7-12/French Resources/Internet
Resources/Nonfiction Gr. K-6/Nonfiction Gr. 7-12/Picture Books/Professional Resources
GAY, Marie-Louise Gay
Good Morning, Sam
Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 2003. 25p. Illus.
Gr. Pre K- 2. 0-88899-528-8. Hdbk. $14.95
Marie-Louise Gay has given her legion of fans another book
about the charming Stella, and her equally irresistible brother, Sam. The simple text
presents a brother-sister dialogue early one morning, as Stella tries to help Sam get
dressed for the day. She accepts his need for independence, but helps when needed -- for
example, when Sam is sure that his pajama top won't come off because his "...head
grew bigger in the night"! Upended in a bureau drawer to look for underpants,
searching for a disappearing sock, or seeking suggestions about where the missing shoes
might be, Sam demonstrates his need for a helping hand (or voice). But, the tables are
turned when, going out the door, Sam is able to remind Stella about something she
has forgotten to add to her apparel.
Marie-Louise Gay is an award-winning illustrator whose
spirited, colourful work has graced books written in both French and English. In 1984, Gay
won the Canada Council Illustrator Price for a French-Canadian book (Drôle d'école)
and the Canada Council Illustrator Prize for an English-Canadian book (Lizzy's Lion).
She has also won the Amelia Howard-Gibbon Medal twice, and the Mr. Christie's Book Award
for The Fabulous Song (1996). In the late seventies, she attended the Academy of
Art College in San Franciso. The bright colours associated with this Pacific city continue
to be evident in Gay's work, eye-catching and cheerful. Good Morning, Sam
features watercolours and ink paintings which reflect Gay's cartoon-like approach.
I enjoy Gay's books very much - Stella and Sam are
interesting, lively characters to whom children can relate. As with all of the book's Gay
has written and illustrated, Good Morning, Sam is an excellent
selection for storytime in any environment designed for young children - preschool, early
school years, library programs or after-school settings. Beginning readers could read to
younger children or independently, and adults will enjoy the inherent humour of the book. Good
Morning, Sam offers children an opportunity to think about self-help
routines - sometimes we need help and support, sometimes we can provide that to others.
While the back cover proclaims this as "a small Stella and Sam story", readers
will see that Sam plays a key role - the power shifts from Stella knowing everything - Sam
can help, too.
Thematic Links: Sibling Relationships; Independence;
All the Way to Mexico
Illustrated by Monika Melnychuk. Raincoast Books, 2003. 158p. Gr. 5-7. 1-55192-598-2. Pbk.
Jacob Armstrong, a twelve-year-old boy, along with his older rebellious sister, Minerva,
has become part of a blended family. Their mother has just married a man named Fred
Finkle. Fred has two sons of his own, Barney and Sam. Together the family of six has
crammed into an old pale blue Mercury Montego station wagon and are on their way to Mexico
for a honeymoon.
The three Finkles and the three Armstrongs are in for an interesting road trip from
Vancouver to Mexico. Jacob is obsessed with soccer and keeps his soccer ball with him at
all times. He treasures the soccer ball because it was a gift given to him by his father
before he was killed in a car accident. Minerva would rather be any place than with her
family and is plugged into her CD player most of the time as a way of blocking them out.
Barney tells non-stop jokes about cows, dreams of being a comedian and tends to annoy
Jacob a lot. Sam plays with his action figures and also annoys Jacob. Jacob's mother and
ne father act like "honeymooners" and this is an embarrassment to Jacob as well.
As the trip progresses, Jacob wonders how he will ever cope during this trip. He dreams of
being a famous soccer player some day and hopes to meet up with some children in Mexico to
play a soccer game. Unfortunately Jacob's plans do not materialize, however, the family
does have an interesting trip. The children learn to appreciate each other and deal with
difficulties as they arise.
This is an excellent story to read aloud in class. Students will easily identify with the
issues of blended families and sibling rivalry. They will also recognize the importance of
dreaming for the future and having plans. The story is humourous and keeps the reader
wondering what will happen next to the children. The colourful over illustration done by
Monika Melnychuk depicts many important aspects of the story such as firecrackers, a robot
figure, the pale blue station wagon, a tent, headphones, a cow and of course, Jacob.
This book would be an excellent addition to a youth library collection.
Thematic Links: Blended Families; Soccer; Humour
BORAKS-NEMETZ, Lillian & Irene N. Watts (compilers)
Tapestry of Hope: Holocaust Writings for Young People
Tundra Books, 2003. 237p. Gr. 7-12. 0-88776-638-2. Hdbk. $24.99
What is more heart breaking than the position of Jewish children in Europe during World
War II? Confused and abandoned, often given into the hands of strangers or torn viciously
from their parents' arms, these children, whether real or fictional, are living testaments
to the human determination to survive. Editors Boraks-Nemetz and Watts have compiled a
haunting collection of life stories in the form of plays, poetry and prose that will
create a lightening rod of understanding for today's teenagers for whom World War II is
Tapestry of Hope has an evocative cover of an older child holding a bouquet of flowers.
The background is blurred out and the reader can't distinguish any facial features of the
child, who represents every child. The book is divided up into nine sections: Hiding, Loss
and Exile, Selection, Ghetto, In Flames, The Camps, Resistance, Identity - Family Secrets,
The Holocaust and After. The entries can be read one at a time, one section at a time, or
in one horrifying, mesmerizing sitting. Kathy Lowinger, a Tundra editor, provides a
thoughtful introduction in which she reminds the reader that no matter how dreadful the
persecution of the Jews, there is hope for humanity if we light "matches" of
hope that chase the night away. A simple but clear Timeline of the events leading up to
the war and WWII itself (1933-45) is placed after the entries. An extensive list of
Further Reading concludes the book.
Some of the entries are excerpts from novels (The Secret of Gabi's Dresser, My Canary
Yellow Star, A Time to Choose, Lisa) while others are excerpts from non-fiction (Tell No
One Who You Are, Hana's Suitcase). These are chosen for their dramatic, heart-stopping
moments when young children or teenagers dredge up their deepest bravery and face the
madness of the Nazis. Most compelling, of course, are the true stories of Holocaust
survivors, the pain of loss still a dark ache in their writing voice today. Readers will
be touched by these victims' perfectly ordinary lives - how they were carefree and loved
by their families until war separated them.. Particularly gripping are the stories of
Robert Krell and Marion Kaufmann, who barely remember their parents when they are
re-united after the war. Many of these Holocaust children were taken in by complete
strangers who, at risk to their own lives, saved Jewish children who would otherwise have
perished. Some children moved from orphanage to orphanage and it is important to remember
that a vast network of determined, courageous people worked to save the lives of thousands
of Jewish children. Often we see the loss that war creates directly through the eyes of
the children as they stare hungrily at toy trains in shop windows and then fifty years
later, safe in Canada, buy a similar toy train to play with grandchildren. They achingly
re-read their mother's final letter. Or a careless Polish neighbour looks on the burning
of the Warsaw Ghetto and remarks, "Look, the Yids are frying" as a girl whose
parents are in the ghetto stands beside him but can say nothing because she is
impersonating a gentile. The poetry chosen is not easy to read, nor is it superficial or
trite. Symbolism (for example, in "The Ghost Town of Kasimierz" or
"Shhh") may prove difficult for younger readers, but the spookiness and terror
in the poetry are accessible by all. The most chilling sections are the survivor
statements, short, true, accounts of individuals who escaped death but not the suffering
of the loss of their childhood.
Thematic Links: World War II; Holocaust; Jewish history
COOK, Peter & Laura Suzuki
Why Animals Show Off
Illustrated by Ron Broda. Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2003. 28p. Illus. Gr. 1-3.
0-439-98861-6. Pbk. $7.99
Many animals blend in, subtle and subdued in their surroundings. Yet others are brightly
coloured, can rapidly change shape and size and often make strange noises when disturbed.
Science authors Peter Cook and Laura Suzuki call these animals the "showoffs".
Why such a pronounced difference? There are many answers which are simply revealed.
Colourful patterned fish, birds and insects show off in various ways for various reasons.
Mammals often show off by their behaviour, for example by showing strength. And how about
people, do we show off?
The limited text is very informative yet simply written. Illustrator Ron Broda uses paper
sculpture and watercolour to create a dynamic three-dimensional effect. Large vivid images
on each page enhance the information provided, and the brightly coloured illustrations are
This book would be a valuable resource for animal studies in Gr. 1-3 especially, focusing
on subjects such as camouflage, adaptation, poisonous animals and survival. The striking
illustrations could also be an excellent reference for art projects.
Thematic Links: Science- Animals; Art
William Lyon Mackenzie King: Dreams and Shadows
(The Quest Library)
XYZ Publishing, 2003. 182p. Illus. Gr. 9 up. 1-894852-02-8.
Goodall's biography of King joins the eighteen biographical
titles already published under The Quest Library imprint of XYZ Publishing. This
latest addition follows a pattern which is giving the series wide appeal for easy-to-read
information together with high interest. With a smooth flowing, narrative prose, Goodall
uses journal-type entries to relate the life of one of Canada's most famous prime
With his family background and childhood years summarized
in the prologue and first chapter, Goodall relates the story of Mackenzie King's life in
more detail at age seventeen when he enters the University of Toronto. The novel-like
style absorbs the reader into the life of a remarkable, if somewhat eccentric, person.
King's political life spanned the two World Wars, history which still interests many young
people today. The image of power politician becomes more rounded as the reader discovers
the more ordinary man - his life shaped by a close family and affected by the grief of the
early loss of his mother, father, sister and best friend. In the context of the whole
person, his involvement with spiritual mediums and séances seems part of his brilliance
rather than a bizarre oddity.
For young adult audiences this book will be very useful for
historical research projects. The index will guide the student to the needed passages.
However, the student may then find themselves absorbed into the highly readable prose and
fascinating story. Adult readers will enjoy this book for the same reasons.
With its strong narrative, non-fiction style this series is
telling the facts of Canada's history in a most absorbing and appealing manner - like a
Thematic Links: William L.
Mackenzie King; Prime Ministers; World War II; Politics and Government
EASLEY, Shirley-Dale and Kay Mitchell
Portfolios Matter: What, Where, When, Why and How to Use Them
Pembroke Publishers Limited, 2003. 96p. 1-55138-151-6. Pbk. $18.95
The combined effort of two veteran educators, Shirley-Dale Easley and Kay Mitchell,
produced Portfolios Matter. This is a comprehensive resource that examines the practical
aspects of using portfolios and student led conferences as part of a balanced assessment
approach. In six chapters, organized using a question and answer format and concrete
examples, the authors lead teachers through a logical progression of information that,
when followed, should provide a roadmap to successful implementation of this authentic
form of assessment.
In chapter one the reader is led to examine several very convincing examples that
illustrate the need for concrete evidence to support report card marks if educators are to
clearly represent what students know and are able to do. This is followed with suggestions
about how to lay the groundwork for portfolio assessment. The important and often
problematic issue of teaching students how to self-evaluate their work is addressed well.
Chapter three discusses the common practice of keeping work files and suggests how this
practice can be augmented to reach portfolio status through student participation in
selection and self reflection. The student examples in this chapter clearly illustrate the
depth of reflection that is possible when students are expected and shown how to
participate in documenting their own learning. The final chapter provides a wealth of
information on student-led conferences as a method of sharing portfolios. The practical
management tips included throughout this recourse will enable teachers to avoid the many
pitfalls that they would undoubtedly experience if trying to implement portfolios without
When the range of information presented is examined, it is obvious that the suggestions in
this resource are based on a thorough knowledge of what teachers need to know to
successfully implement portfolios in the classroom. Teachers will be especially
appreciative of the student examples, useful checklists, quick tips and "from the
files" examples because they successfully bring portfolio implementation to life. I
would recommend this as a valuable resource for any teacher considering a move to
Thematic Links: Assessment; Portfolios
SALTMAN, Judith, Kathryn Shoemaker, and Gail Edwards
Canadian Children's Illustrated Books in English
The Canadian Children's Illustrated Books in English Internet site is intended to
communicate the results of a three-year research project by a team working at the
University of British Columbia.
The central page in this site is "The Project", which is one of four links from
the home page. A team of researchers is surveying both historical and contemporary works
in order to examine - you guessed it - Canadian Children's Illustrated Books in English -
from the point of view of many scholarly disciplines, including children's literature, art
history, publishing studies, the history of the book, and socio-cultural history.
"The Project" page is a base from which you can explore the team's description
and methodology of their research, as well as how they plan to disseminate their results.
This site is interesting for scholars, and will no doubt become even more interesting as
planned interviews with creators of Canadian illustrated books take place and are added to
the site. A great feature for librarians and teachers right now is the
"Resources" page, which is divided into several categories, including annotated
bibliographies, relevant journals of criticism and review, and a selected reading list on
international illustrated books.
Overall this site is visually attractive and easy to navigate. Each page has plenty of
white space around the text, with easy-to-read black text and red hypertext. The colour
and black and white graphics on each page are well placed to break up the large amounts of
text. Because the designers present only small parts of each illustration, which are then
linked to the full illustration and title, each page loads much more quickly than if
larger graphics were used. This also means less of an interruption for those who are
reading the text on the pages.
I found only one problem with this site. Recent studies have shown that Internet users are
more likely to scan web pages for information rather than reading them as they would a
traditional printed text. Bulleted lists, highlighted keywords, concise writing, and short
paragraphs all help the user gain meaning quickly from the page. This site is very wordy
and it can be difficult to scan for meaning from most of the pages - a fault of many
scholarly web sites. Aside from this, however, the clean design and interesting nature of
the subject make this site worth your valuable browsing time.
Thematic Links: Canadian Children's Literature; Canadian Authors; Canadian Illustrators;
Canadian Picture Books
O Canada! Notre hymne national
Les Éditions Scholastic, 2003. 30p. Illus. Gr. All levels. 0-439-97446-1. Pbk. $7.99
This small paperback can be used by almost any student at any level. Young students could
simply use it as a picture book and an aid to learning the words of our national anthem in
French. Older students could study the design and graphics and how they fit with our
national image. The words of O Canada are spread throughout the book in bold print and one
can't help but hear the music while turning the pages!
The beautiful colour photos, although they don't necessarily correspond with the words
printed beside them, cover almost every aspect of Canadian life. We are treated to both
urban and rural scenes, the faces of many Canadians (especially children) and panoramas
from the north, south, east and west of this great country.
The photos are unashamedly nationalistic and symbolic without seeming trite. Canadians
(and those of other nationalities discovering Canada) are treated to images which include
our flag, the RCMP, hockey, maple syrup, Parliament Hill, a Canada goose and.......of
course.......a beaver! To this reader, paging through this book was like seeing a glorious
slide show on Canada Day with the anthem playing in the background - all in one small
The very last pages include the music to our anthem as well as the story of the origins of
the music, the French lyrics and the lyrics in English. Interesting facts that many of us
The title sums up the book: O Canada!
Thematic Links: Canada, National Anthem