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An astute educator or parent can use this book to start important conversations about Canada’s history and its people.

Just in time for the 150th anniversary of Canada, Hughes traces the history and impact of immigration in the country.

The book’s organization, design, and photography are clear and accessible, with insets and sidebars adding variety to the content, making this a valuable addition to classrooms and libraries. Guidance from educators or parents may be necessary to ensure the young readers’ comprehension, as the text is uneven with regard to what the author explains. Selected words are defined (“abolished” means “ended,” for instance), while major concepts are not (why are immigrants considered a source of cheap labor?). Hughes emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the injustice inherent to Canada's founding and its subsequent immigration policies in both the introduction and conclusion—but she obscures rather than elucidates this aspect of history in some sections about Aboriginal peoples and black immigrants while expanding on it in others. The text relies heavily on ironic quotation marks, forcing young readers to deduce what isn’t written. By contrast, the author more explicitly explains discrimination and repression that others commit, as in the new United States’ oppression of Loyalists, or for which Canada has apologized, as in the turning away of the Komagata Maru and its would-be South Asian immigrants.

An astute educator or parent can use this book to start important conversations about Canada’s history and its people. (timeline, immigration laws, statistics, further reading, glossary) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77147-202-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.

In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Bial (A Handful of Dirt, p. 299, etc.) conjures up ghostly images of the Wild West with atmospheric photos of weathered clapboard and a tally of evocative names: Tombstone, Deadwood, Goldfield, Progress, Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickock, the OK Corral. Tracing the life cycle of the estimated 30,000 ghost towns (nearly 1300 in Utah alone), he captures some echo of their bustling, rough-and-tumble past with passages from contemporary observers like Mark Twain: “If a man wanted a fight on his hands without any annoying delay, all he had to do was appear in public in a white shirt or stove-pipe hat, and he would be accommodated.” Among shots of run-down mining works, dusty, deserted streets, and dark eaves silhouetted against evening skies, Bial intersperses 19th-century photos and prints for contrast, plus an occasional portrait of a grizzled modern resident. He suggests another sort of resident too: “At night that plaintive hoo-hoo may be an owl nesting in a nearby saguaro cactus—or the moaning of a restless ghost up in the graveyard.” Children seeking a sense of this partly mythic time and place in American history, or just a delicious shiver, will linger over his tribute. (bibliography) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-06557-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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