What is that long, grey log-shaped thing and why is that big animal sitting at one end of it holding a branch of yellow wood in the water? These are questions that come to the mind of the central character of this story, a young beaver named Ahmek, as he encounters a grey canoe being paddled by none other than artist Tom Thomson in Algonquin Park in 1917. The two gradually develop a bond, only to have poachers come along, force Thomson to flee and then attempt to trap Ahmek and his family. Narrowly escaping, Ahmek sets out on a solitary adventure, driven solely by his instincts. Despite his good fortune in meeting several colourful characters, including a female companion with whom he builds a home and has a family, Ahmek continues to feel drawn back to the pond he left behind. Eventually, Ahmek and his new family do return, and, along the way, they observe something in the water that makes them part of a mystery that, to this day, is unsolved.
Given the level of detail in this beaver's eye account, it is obvious that author Patrick Watson has spent a good deal of time observing and researching this national symbol. His enthusiasm is infectious, too, as we soon get the feeling that we are right there in the pond swimming with Ahmek. If the excellent cover illustration brings to mind Tom Thomson, it's likely because of an inherited talent; it is the work of his great-niece Tracy Thomson.
Young Jamey and Megan are only lukewarm on the idea of helping their parents plant a garden until Mother suggests they all become "time detectives." By taking a close look around their own backyard, the children discover - and the parents are reminded - that there are clues to the past and future all around them. The family tries to imagine what their yard will look like hundreds of years from now. They then decide to make a time capsule for future time detectives to find.
This book gently reminds us that we all play an integral part in the natural world surrounding us, and that we should take care to protect it for future generations. The illustrations are large and colourful and they coincide perfectly with the text.
Nickie Angel's life is in shambles. Her older brother Calvin has been in a coma for several months, the result of a serious car accident, and Nickie's mother has dealt with her grief by withdrawing from her family. Nickie's dad is trying to cope by pretending that nothing has changed. He and Nickie fight frequently, initially about Nickie's mother and Calvin, and later because he forbids Nickie to associate with her new friend Jeff, who is the son of a logging protestor.
Nickie begins to feel a renewed sense of purpose and hopefulness when she decides to try to reach Calvin by playing her violin for him. However, Nickie feels this new-found connection with Calvin is threatened when plans are announced to clear-cut Macquet Island, near her home of Weldon Sound, B.C. The island has always held special meaning to Calvin, so Nickie feels compelled to stage a one-person protest to prevent the logging.
The author, Meredy Maynard, presents a realistic depiction of a 14-year-old girl coping with her family's tragedy while dealing with turmoil in her social life. Maynard's story provides a fairly balanced treatment of the complex issues surrounding the logging industry.
Bergy bits and growlers! After reading this book you will find that these words are not bad language or names of breakfast cereals, but some of the many words in the lexicon of icebergs. Icebergs all start with snowflakes, billions and billions of them that eventually turn to ice. This book centres around the process of how icebergs are formed in Greenland, and what happens once they are "calved" into the North Atlantic Ocean. The text is aimed at school children; however, on many pages there are sidebars containing additional facts. The text is easy and interesting to read and provides an opportunity to gain a great deal of knowledge about icebergs.
The illustrations are principally watercolours and exquisite paintings on silk by Newfoundland artist Diana Dabinett. These are interspersed with various photographs of icebergs, maps and, of particular interest, a sonar image of iceberg "scour" marks on the Grand Banks.
In this story, the author follows the change of seasons in Grandfather's garden. The author explores the co-existence of the apple tree and the birds, animals and insects that live on or around it. In the winter, all is quiet. Spring arrives, and along come the robins to build their nest and lay their eggs. The birds hatch, and soon they are learning to fly. In the summer, the birds and the apples are growing; and in the fall, it is time for apple picking.
The illustrations are original handmade prints by the author. They are delightful and at times are very detailed, allowing children to see clearly the robins and other life in the garden. Children will find it amusing to search for the dogs in each illustration. In addition to the story, at the end of the book there are "nature notes" presenting facts on the robins that may be of interest to older readers.
Don't drink the water! Not in Watertown, an island ghetto outside of the city. Watertown is in the Dead Water Zone, an area in which the water has become so polluted that it cannot be cleaned up, and consuming the water can have frightening effects. Watertown is a slum, full of rough and dangerous inhabitants. This is where Paul must venture after getting a cryptic phone call from his brother Sam, who has been conducting tests on the polluted water in an attempt to discover a means of breaking the pollution down. Now he has disappeared. What secret has he uncovered? Can Paul find Sam before it's too late?
Paul and Sam are teenage brothers who have an unusual interdependence. Sam, physically frail and degenerating, is a genius; Paul is of average intelligence, but is strong and athletic. Together they have always formed a united front that has served them well, both at school and at home. However, their relationship has many hidden stresses, and these strains may have disastrous results.
Dead Water Zone is an environmental science fiction thriller that carries the reader along with action and suspense. Equally gripping is the portrayal of the complex relationship between the brothers, and their internal battles between conflicting emotions. This book contains some psychological elements and violence that may be disturbing to younger children, but it is appropriate for early teenage readers.
Readers will gain an understanding of Emily Carr, always a complex character, from this well-balanced and sympathetic biography of one of Canada's greatest painters. Her childhood, eccentricities and determination are examined, as well as her passion for art and, later in life, her interest in writing. She had the discipline and courage to follow her heart at a time when a single woman tramping through the wilderness in remote places to paint was anything but ordinary.
Readers will discover Emily Carr's vision as seen through her favourite subjects: Canada's First Nations and the West Coast landscape. Her story is told with honesty and simplicity, using selections from Carr's own writings.
Lavishly illustrated with photographs and full-colour reproductions of Carr's paintings, the book also contains a list of Carr's writings and books about her.
Author Ludmila Zeman, a Czechoslovakian refugee, was so impressed by the bright red maple leaves of her new home, that she made up this story to explain to her children why the maple leaf has become one of the most familiar of Canadian symbols. She tells of a time long ago when this land was ruled by winter, a cruel and sharp-toothed creature called Iceheart. While a storm is raging, a young boy comes across a Canada goose, Branta, whom he frees from beneath a fallen tree, despite thinking that the bird would make a nice meal. In return, Branta leads the boy and his people to the safety of the south, with its canopy of red maple leaves. Enraged, Iceheart follows the people, shakes the leaves from the trees, and, in the process, is blinded by the bright colours and turns away. On a mission to get the trees their leaves back, the boy sets off on the back of a moose to find Branta. Once he finds her, he hitches a ride on the goose's back all the way to the sunny tropics. Branta rallies the many birds they find there, and together they fly back north and bring the story to a clever and surprising conclusion.
The red maple leaf has come to represent for Ludmila Zeman the security and peace she and her family enjoy as Canadian citizens. Each page of text is framed by handsome leafy motifs and faces one of her gorgeous full-page illustrations, which often consist of several panels.
Samantha, newly moved to the big city, is feeling lonely and homesick. She takes her frustration out on some birds by throwing rocks at them, and a cardinal is hurt. Ms. Merganser, her neighbour, is very angry and tells Samantha that she needs to be taught a lesson. All of a sudden, Samantha and Ms. Merganser magically transform into birds. Samantha and Ms. Merganser fly off on an adventure that takes them from the city to the countryside and all the way down to South America, on a path that follows bird migration routes. Along the way, Samantha learns about birds and the environmental hazards they face.
Told in chapter-book format, this book also contains sidebars about bird diet, habitat, migration and other related topics. Watercolour illustrations accompany the story, while life-like pencil sketches are used to illustrate the sidebars. This is an engrossing story that educates young readers about birds and suggests ways that they can help protect birds in their own communities.
Shelley Tanaka's A Great Round Wonder: My Book of the World is an informative book about ecology, the environment and pollution.
The cycle of life among people, animals and plants is explored and carefully explained. Key environmental words such as environment, oxygen and carbon dioxide, among many others, are defined and highlighted in bold script. Timely environmental terms such as global warming, the greenhouse effect and ozone layer make for a very current read.
Each environmental definition is supported by illustrator Debi Perna's charming drawings. The text concentrates on various life cycles and of the continuing dangers to those cycles. Young readers are advised about how they can help to protect our planet from further pollution. At the end of the book, the author finishes on a high note with a section entitled "What's the Good News?"
Our home is indeed a great round wonder, and Ms. Tanaka encourages us all to do our utmost to protect it.