Exerpts from Resource Links April 2001, V.6, No.4
Wild Girl and Gran
Illustrated by Ron Lightburn. Red Deer
Press, 2000. 32p. Illus. Gr.3-5.
0-88995-221-3. Hdbk. $18.95.
Hiding in a haystack, a treehouse or a
big tree you watch others walk by below. You feel you have power over the others as they
do not know you are there. They do not know they are being watched. From your perch you
can become a pirate, a castle princess, a "cowboy on the lone prairie" or a wild
girl in her "stouthearted tree". Such is the power of a young girl in an ancient
Nan Gregory writes in the first person
from the young girl's point of view. Grandmother comes to stay with the family. Ron
Lightburn depicts Gran as somewhat of a wild girl herself with her long, loose gray hair
and tattoos - a star on her cheek and a rose on her ankle. Right away Gran senses the wild
girl trying to be an acorn in her tree. Gran "finds" the wild girl when she
knows the words to a game. They pretend they are wild horses and practise whistling during
dessert. They spend many days at the tree - Gran knitting while the wild girl climbs. As
time passes, however, Gran becomes more and more feeble until she has to be hospitalized.
The wild girl tries to help but she doesn't know how. In the winter Gran dies and the girl
misses her "old pal". She has Gran's knitted patches but they do not cheer her.
"Spring comes anyhow" and the dispirited girl and her mother walk along the path
to the tree sharing yarns about Gran and sprinkling Gran's ashes among the wildflowers.
The wild girl realizes that her mother also misses Gran and they share the beauty and
power of the tree and of their love.
Nan Gregory is a professional
storyteller and author of another powerful story How Smudge Came (Raincoast, 1995).
She uses poetic language, contrasts and repetition to create a story of exhilaration and
uncomfortable reality and to illustrate the healing and empowering qualities of both
nature and imagination. This book would be perfect for reading aloud to large or small
groups and for dramatizing. It could be used for therapy and when studying feelings or
families. The large amount of motion depicted could be interpreted through creative dance.
Students could try out Nan Gregory's style when writing about their own imaginations and
Gran and the wild girl are keen
observers of nature. Plants and animals are important to them. They give names from nature
to the colour patches that Gran knits such as "Shooting Star" for pink and green
and "Cricket's Chirp" for a sandy colour. Students could learn to knit, observe
nature and name the colours of their squares. On the inside back cover is a list of the
plants referred to in the story and information about Garry oak meadows of Southwestern
Award winning illustrator of Waiting
for the Whales (Orca, 1999), Ron Lightburn, uses an unusual technique for this book,
covering photocopies of pencil drawings with clear acrylic, then colouring them with oil
paint. He uses colours for emphasis and effect leaving parts of the pictures in
monochrome. He also uses a variety of perspectives for emphasis and effect, such as
extreme closeups and long depth of field views. Art students could discuss the
For a gentle, expressive story about
death, this book is highly recommended.
Thematic Links: Love; Death; Feelings;
Family; Trees; Flowers; Birds; Nature Study
DOWNIE, Mary Alice
& John Downie
Disguise (On Times Wing Series)
2000. 170p. Gr. 5 up. 1-896184-72-3. Pbk. $8.95
Rating - G
childrens author, Mary Alice Downie and her husband John Downie have collaborated on
this work of historical fiction, their third novel together. We are taken back to the year
1759 when Jamie Macpherson and his father, Duncan, are living in a small village in
France. They have been on the run for most of Jamies life, constantly moving in an
attempt to evade their pursuer, a man named Sleath who has vowed to find and kill Duncan
because he captured and married the woman Sleath was about to marry years before. As
Sleath finds their hiding place in France, Jamie and his father separate and agree to meet
in the spring in Scotland. Due to an unexpected turn of events, Jamie and some friends are
captured by a press-gang and sent off to Quebec to fight against the French in the British
navy. On his way up the St. Lawrence River, Jamie is mistaken for an enemy spy because of
his perfect French, and is taken on to Quebec where he becomes involved in the struggle
between the French and the British. But whose side is Jamie on? Is it the English or the
French? How is he going to prove that he is not an enemy spy?
And how is he going
to find his father again?
Downie has written
a fairly fast paced novel which is sure to appeal to middle readers who are looking for
adventure stories. There is lots of action with a hint of mystery. While the story of
Jamie and his father is fiction, the reality of the press-gang, the conditions aboard the
ships, and the struggle between the English and French in Quebec are historically correct.
Jamie is a strong character who is not afraid to express his views and do what has to be
done. Jeanne, the young girl who befriends Jamie in Quebec, is also a very strong
character and while she is French and Jamie is British, they find that they have many
things in common and they work together to help the wounded after the Battle on the Plains
This novel provides
an interesting read as well as information about a little know era of Canadian history. It
could certainly be used to supplement studies in Canadian history in the upper elementary
and junior high grades.
Links: Quebec - History; Canada - History
MELLING, O. R.
The Light-Bearer's Daughter (Book Three
in the Chronicles of Faerie)
Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 2001. 208 p.
Gr. 4-8. 1-4100-459-2. Pbk. $16.99
Living in Ireland, O. R. Melling must've absorbed some of the magic of fairy
storytelling. The Light-Bearer's Daughter tells the tale of the faery
world's fight against diminishment in a modern world. The book also tells of 11-year-old
Dana's struggles with the prospect of moving from Ireland to Canada and the mysterious,
long-ago loss of her mother. Seemingly disparate, these tales converge in a plot that
deftly and aptly illustrates how intricately meshed are the worlds of faerie and
humankind. In return for her heart's dearest wish, Dana must deliver an urgent fairy
message. Boggles, faeries and others of Irish folkloric ilk lend her help - and cause her
trouble - as she plays her fated part in both a personal fairy saga and the larger battle
against extinction. The immensely satisfying ending isn't quite the fairy-tale ending Dana
wanted, but is, she senses, the right one.
Melling brings Faerie into startling
being with vivid, descriptive detail. The same richness in rendering captures the charming
Irish countryside. What makes the book more than just an escape into a whimsical
other-world, however, is its relevance to our own world. Anybody who has moved--be it to a
new neighbourhood or a new country--can relate to Dana's despair over leaving old friends
and familiar places and her dread of starting anew. Dana's secret fear, that she was
responsible for her mother's flight, will resonate with other readers dealing with
parental death or divorce. Still others will identify with the book's pro-environment
theme. The last run of the last wolf of Wicklow and the mass felling of trees, with its
manifold implications for nature and Faerie, send a strong message about the consequences
of indiscriminate progress. The impulsive defence of the trees by passers-by is an equally
effective call-to-arms, and leaves readers with much hope for humanity.
Thematic Links: Environment;
Moving/Emigration; Ireland, Irish History; Irish Folklore; Family
Animals Eating: How Animals Chomp,
Chew, Slurp, and Swallow
Illustrated by Pat Stephens. Kids Can
Press, 2001. 40p. Illus. Gr. 1-5. 1-55074-577-8. Hdbk.
Did you know the bison is the largest
land animal in North America? Did you know
the Australian koala eats only eucalyptus leaves? Did
you know that the longtail weasel eats half its body weight in food each day?
All these (and many more) questions are
answered in this fabulous new book by the author of Animals in Motion and Animal
Senses. Animals Eating provides
a glimpse into the interesting world of animals eating habits. Readers learn about
how different animals mouths, jaws, and digestive systems are specially designed to
accommodate the kinds of foods they eat. For example, all meat eaters are well
equipped with sharp teach for killing and tearing up their food. On the same page,
there is a close up illustration of a crocodiles mouth and teeth as well as a text
box with interesting facts about crocodiles. Similarly, children will learn that
animals that eat only plants are called herbivores. Many plant eaters have special
adaptations that help them harvest and digest their food. The author goes on to
explain how different herbivores are specially adapted to eat plants, including a giraffe,
whose tongue is covered by a natural sunscreen to protect it from the hot sun
while it is searching for plants. Each two page spread shows a different kind of animal
and its unique method of eating and digesting its food. Full colour illustrations on each
page work with the text to emphasize the animals characteristics.
In addition to the descriptive text and
detailed illustrations, the author has included experiments that are designed to reinforce
the ways different animals eat. For example, children can use simple materials to make a
Tongue Trapper which simulates a frogs tongue. Children can also do an
experiment to see how gizzards help birds grind up the seeds they eat or one to see how
two different insects feed on liquids. This book will be useful for research projects as
well as general information for elementary level children. With the experiments,
interesting text, and facts to keep even the most knowledgeable animal lover reading, Animals
Eating is an excellent addition to schools and libraries.
Thematic Links: Animals; Animal Habits;
Digestive System; General Reference
Joanne de Groot
FRANCIS, Daniel, Editor
Encyclopedia of British Columbia
Harbour Publishing, 2000. 850p. Illus.
Includes CD-ROM. Gr. 7 up. 1-55017-200-X. Hdbk. $99.99
The Encyclopedia of British Columbia is an encyclopedia in the
classic sense of the word. It touches every facet of British Columbia from the
formation of the Coast Mountains to the evolution of aboriginal art to the development of
the Ballard fuel cell. All major subject areas including history, geography, the
economy, politics, climate, the arts, science and sports are covered.
The book is organized in standard
encyclopedia format with subjects listed alphabetically. Even with the huge number of
articles (4000+), each one is very well covered, often with accompanying pictures and/or
illustrations. It also contains some excellent quality photographs, illustrations, tables,
and charts, which add to the depth of the coverage, especially on topics such as climatic
The text is well written and in a size
that is easy to read. All topic headings are bolded. Within articles, cross-referencing
headings are also included for finding additional information. Some of these appear as See
Also at the end of the article while others appear within the body of the text. Those
within the body of the articles would be much easier to spot if they were in bold print.
This would be especially useful for students using the encyclopedia.
The book does have a subject index but
only for subjects that do not have their own articles in the encyclopedia. The articles
where information on these subjects can be found are shown in bold. However no page
numbers are included for quick reference. A general index with page numbers would have
The accompanying CD-ROM is great! It
can be installed on a computer or used from the CD-ROM drive of a machine without
installing it. It is used through an internet browsers. It not only can be accessed
through the latest versions of the browser but allows access through older browsers such
as Netscape 3. It is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh systems.
The CD-ROM incorporates all the
articles from the print edition along with colour graphics, sounds, animation and video.
There are over 40 minutes of video, hundreds of sound clips, and thousands of images and
The opening screen gives the user
information on using the encyclopedia, what is included in it and information on the
publisher, contributors, etc. It provides three ways of finding information: search the
index, a keyword(s) search, or search through the articles that contain media such as
video, sounds, charts, tables, pictures, etc. To save time in searching the index the user
can click on the first letter of the subject. This
index is far superior to that included in the print edition.
When performing a key word search, the
user need only click on an article for it to appear. The keyword(s) appear in red
throughout the article while links to related articles appear in blue. Depending on the
subject links to additional images, video, maps and charts may also appear. One really
good feature is that at the end of each article is a list of related Internet links.
Depending on the machine, and the
program being used to view video and sound, these media clips can be slow loading and may
on occasion cause some of the older machines to lock up.
The CD-ROM also provides a link to the
encyclopedia online, which provides updates, technical support, contact information,
sample articles, and a quiz.
This encyclopedia is a great resource
in any resource centre.
Thematic Links: Canada; British Columbia;
Council for Human Resources in the Environment Industry, 2001. Multimedia Kit. Gr. 8 up.
(This kit is being provided free of charge to all high schools in Canada).
Council for Human Resources in the Environment Industry, was established in 1993. It is a
national, non-profit organization which works to ensure that the skills, knowledge of the
environmental workforce match the needs of employers. The council communicates with 19,000
workers, employers, industry associations and educational institutions. Information
gathered is used to inform government, industry and education about trends and labor
market shortages. The Canadian Council for Human Resources in the Environment
Industry, is involved in providing information, internship programs and scholarships to
Canadian youth in their first work experience. The Envirocareers kit is the
result of investigations which pointed out that young people across Canada were unaware of
the variety of opportunities in the environmental sector.
multimedia kit contains current information on careers related to the environment. The kit
contains: a video tape, a CD-ROM, a Facilitators Guide, a Student Handbook, a copy
of EnviroXchange (a newsletter on the latest environmental employment trends),
and a copy of Enviro Careers information sheet. All of the above information
is compactly enclosed in a loose, cardboard box. The only negative thing that could be
said about the entire package it its floppy construction and penchant for spewing its
contents upon the novice handler. Otherwise, Envirocareers is an excellent
resource for any guidance department, student employment centre, career centre or student
intent upon investigating careers in the environment field.
The short videotape
provides a visual introduction to the kit and to careers in the environment. It captures
careers in their work site and could be used alone to introduce the kit.
The CD-ROM entitled
Envirocareers provides an introduction and explanation of over thirty careers
in the environment. Besides explaining the job, the CD-ROM provides information about
post-secondary institutions, educational requirements, salary ranges, expected duties,
responsibilities and other interesting facts. Like the video, the CD-ROM could be used as
Facilitators Guide offers teachers lesson plans on the following topics:
Wildlife and Conserving Our Wilderness Areas and Our Forests, Littering or Polluting, Pure
Water, The Air We Breathe, Getting the Word Out, Electronic Senses, Exploring the World of
Weather, Perils of the Workplace, Changing the Workplace, Be an Environmental Educator,
Exploring Consumer Behaviour, Exploring Your Community, Houseboating. As with the video
and CD-ROM, the resources of the Facilitators Guide and the Student Guide might be
used in combination with one another or as stand-alones.
A 91-page Student
Guide offers information on careers that protect the environment such as environmental
biologist, air quality technologist; careers which converse such as agrologist and
forester; careers which promote environment such as environmental communicator, educator,
bimetrician; careers which explore the environment such as environmental chemist and
climate scientist; careers involved in environmental management such as environmental
lawyer and economist. In total thirty-one careers are investigated. As well the guide
includes a career index, an extensive list of resources and a glossary.
newsletters/leaflets included in the kit provide ideas for further investigation and
information worth examining.
information, The Canadian Council for Human
Resources in the Environment Industry, provides an
address The Canadian Council for Human Resources in the Environment Industry, Suite 1450,
700-4th Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta, T2P 3J4, Voice (403) 233-0748, Fax (403) 269-9544,
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, web site http://www.cchrei.ca.
is a comprehensive, up-to-date, exciting career package which every secondary
school guidance department and environmental science course should possess.
Links: Career Planning; Environmental Science
FORESTER, Anne D.
& Margaret Reinhard.
Learners Way: Brain-Based Learning in Action. 2nd ed.
Foreword by Renate
N. Caine. Portage & Main Press, 2000.
339p. 1-894110-55-2. Pbk. $22.00..
Rating - E
This revised and
expanded version updates the 1989 original and is aimed at teachers, parents and
administrators interested in the early school years. The authors are committed to using
learner-sensitive approaches, and on making research come alive in classrooms.
The Learners Way: Brain-Based Learning in Action makes excellent use
of the idea that teachers are researchers, and encourages teachers to observe how
the children they work with use a variety of approaches to master new information and
skills. Forester and Reinhard point out that
instruction that is too teacher-directed can undermine learning (p. 10), and
then give examples of how well-intentioned adults can actually stifle childrens
development as independent learners. For many early childhood educators, this book will be
an affirmation of the principles that guide our practice learning by doing
and observing what happens.
The book emphasizes
literacy development using a theoretical framework based on brain research. The first
chapter, What does the Brain have to do with Education? is easy to read,
enlightening, and helps the reader make connections to the constructivist approach
stressed by the authors. This chapter also includes a brief discussion of multiple
intelligences, including emotional intelligence, and the role of teachers in enhancing
childrens learning by responding to their strengths.
Reinhard are eloquent in their discussion of the need for developing a classroom climate
that supports and extends learning. Their phrase creating a climate of delight
will resonate with educators who know that children respond to beauty and order. The
authors are focused on how to make the environment an inviting one for readers and
writers, but we know that a place rich in sensory experiences will support all kinds of
learning. The reminder that the climate
of delight is not one-sided but unites teachers and children as co-creators of
learning (p. 54) will be appreciated by many readers who are sometimes wary of
taking the risk of expressing their own curiosity and wonder with young children.
Teachers who are
striving to be more learner-sensitive in their daily work will find the chapters on
classroom management, assessing progress and teacher-child interactions interesting and
directly applicable to their practice. Several chapters end with a section entitled
hints and particulars, which are frequently in the form of vignettes or
miniature case studies which illustrate the authors key points. Many readers will
find these stories engaging and more useful than a laundry list of good ideas
because the application of principles is clearly developed.
aspect of the book is its discussion of multi-age classrooms. In many communities,
multi-grade or split-grade situations have been the norm for decades. However, family
grouping and multi-age teaching requires planning and a different mind-set than working in
a split-grade environment. For teachers, parents and administrators who want to make this
transition, Forester and Reinhard offer practical suggestions.
bibliography is useful for further reference, and a brief listing of the childrens
books mentioned in the text is also provided.
While there are a
vast number of resources available to early childhood educators about literacy,
child-sensitive teaching, and the provision of stimulating learning environments, not all
of them encourage teachers to marry research and practice in meaningful, realistic ways.
The authors of The Learners Way respect teachers, parents and
administrators as competent consumers of research, and encourage adults to appreciate
their own abilities to learn about children through observation and interaction. Forester
and Reinhard provide teachers with a sound foundation for creating constructivist
classrooms in which all participants are seen as creative and capable.
Links: Literacy; Research;
Masks: Faces of the Pacific
DNA Media Inc. Distributed by National
Film Board of Canada, 1998. Gr. 4 up. 1-896631-37-1. $54.95
Hardware Specifications: Windows requires Pentium
90 Processor, Windows 95,16 MB RAM. Macintosh requires PowerPC Processor, System 7.5, 10
MB Available RAM
Masks is an example of
CD-ROM technology at its best, able to place within the hands of the user access to an
amazing variety of information and images. The theme is Masks, but the authors include
coverage on many aspects of the cultures they highlight such as religion, food,
architecture, mythology, tools, and clothing to name a few.
The cultures are all located on the
Pacific Rim which allows learners to make comparisons. The authors cover the Northwest
First Nations, the Yupik of Alaska, the dance drama of Bali, the Noh theatre of Japan, and
the Sepik and New Ireland cultures of Papua New Guinea. All of these different cultures
use masks in particular ways and through the examination of the mask we come to understand
many other sides to these cultures.
The program is filled with video clips
illustrating the land, showing interviews, maskmaking, and performances. We hear music,
chanting, and stories on the many audio clips and we see a variety of 3D models, such as
the 3D model of a traditional Noh theatre in Japan. There are also games where the user
can test their comprehension and viewing skills. An educational companion booklet is also
available to teachers.
If there is any complaint about the
program it is the main interface screen which can be quite confusing at times. Navigating
about the program takes practice, some careful observation, and a little intuition.
Luckily, there is a library which lists every topic and will take you directly there. This
would be my major concern for younger users, who could easily stray away from the desired
Each culture is covered separately,
which allows one to avoid becoming entangled in a flood of information. The text is
oriented more to upper intermediate students, but the audio-visual aspect of the program
makes it accessible to lower intermediate students.
Masks is ideal for art teachers contemplating
making masks in their classroom and will provide students with ideas and inspiration.
They'll realize that the masks featured on the program are the product of a lot of thought
and reflect the culture in which they were made. The program will also be of benefit to
socials teachers studying Northwest Coast First Nations and to those who are studying
Japan. There is even a journal component to the disk where the authors recorded their
impressions as they were researching and making the program. Language Arts teachers could
use these journals as a springboard for activities in their own classrooms.
This is a wonderful program and
teachers would be well advised to find a way to integrate it into their curriculum. I
would strongly recommend the purchase of this program by all British Columbia schools who
teach First Nations curriculum. This is a great resource and it'd be a pity if it didn't
find its way into the classroom.
Thematic Links: Art; First Nations; Social
Studies; Language Arts; Drama
dans lÉgypte ancienne (0-439-98542-0)
moyen âge (0-439-98535-8)
Illustrated by Bill
Slavin. Les éditions Scholastic, 2000. 48p. Illus. Gr. 5-7. Pbk. $9.99 ea.
twins, Justin and Emma, are obliged to follow their younger sister Léa into the Prends
Ton Temps travel agency one day. It is a dark and sinister looking shop, so they have
never entered before. When the travel guide for ancient Egypt drops on Justins head,
he opens it up and... the twins and Léa find
themselves sitting in the Nile - about 4500 years in the past! Emma, the sensible twin,
takes charge of the travel guide and learns that in order to return home, they must read
the entire guide. Justin is quickly hauled off by some palace officials to work on the
latest pyramid, and Emma and Léa must spend time working for different families and
trying to locate him. At last, they are reunited just as Emma is nearing the end of her
reading, and after a mad chase through the streets of an Egyptian city, they read the
final page and pouf! are back in the Agence Prends Ton Temps. Whew! Emma swears she will
never even come back down that street again!
So, why, in the
next book, do we find Emma and Justin egging each other on to go back into the travel
agency? It seems Justin has a hankering to try out being a knight. Emma cant let him
go alone! This time, however, they have carefully left Léa at home - at least thats
what they think! Soon they find themselves in the middle of a field being prepared for
planting. Justins dreams of knighthood are not exactly the first order of business,
unfortunately, and they discover very much the hard way exactly how hard life was for
peasants in the Middle Ages. Another series of adventures, and Justin finally gets his
five minutes of glory and is knighted by the lady of the local castle. Once again, Emma
finishes up the reading and once again they are transported back to the travel agency.
Once again, Emma swears never to go back to the shop, but as M. Petitjean, the owner of
the shop says, never is a very long time, even when you travel back in time!
adventures are written in comic book format, which makes them very appealing to Grade 5-7
students. Many facts about the Middle Ages and Ancient Egypt can be discovered in the
context of the story, but if you find extracting information from a storyline too
challenging, the travel guide is conveniently drawn at the bottom of each page. This guide
explains in detail some of the specifics of life in the time period and is clear and easy
to understand. The guide contains interesting information, but is not so overloaded with
facts as to make the students want to skip it. By the same token, nothing is lost from the
storyline if the student wants to read the story only and skip the guide. There are many
interesting and amusing details in the illustrations, which are reminiscent of the
Wheres Waldo series. Students who look carefully will be able to see dogs eating on
the dining table, prisoners in chains in the dungeon, bear baiting, and of course, Léa
getting into all kinds of trouble. All in all, interesting books that the students will
Links: Ancient Civilizations; Time
Travel; Knights and Chivalry; Castles