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A Guide to Canadian Children's Books in English Hardcover – Apr 22 2003

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The editors of A Guide to Canadian Children's Books are highly thought of in children's literature circles. Deirdre Baker has not only taught children's literature at various universities but is the children's book columnist at The Toronto Star. Librarian Ken Setterington frequently appears on CBC Radio's "This Morning" as part of its children's book panel and recently won a Toronto Arts Award for his work in the area. Together, they have come up with recommendations of over 500 children's books in English that either exhibit "high literary quality" or "seem to be particularly useful ... in exploring certain issues or in meeting the needs of certain kinds of readers."

Modeled after reference works like The New York Times's ever-popular Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children, A Guide to Canadian Children's Books has been designed to appeal to parents as well as teachers and librarians. Organized alphabetically by author, it covers everything from the board books of Pierre Pratt right up to young-adult novels such as Martha Brooks's 2002 Governor General's Award-winner True Confessions of a Heartless Girl. Each entry contains a highly readable mix of plot summary, literary analysis, and just enough bibliographical information to find the book online. There are also a variety of subject, author, and title indexes, including a listing of books by the authors' and illustrators' hometowns.

The first book of its kind in Canada, this ambitious resource certainly fills a gap, but that doesn't mean that it couldn't have filled it better. The entries make no mention of awards so readers looking for the finest books must rely entirely on the editors' starred recommendations. (Although generally sound, these tend to favour recently published titles.) Moreover, although Kady MacDonald Denton's incidental drawings are charming, the decision not to include any sample illustrations from the books under discussion--not even from picture books--impoverishes the volume as a whole. --Lisa Alward

From School Library Journal

Though not the first of its kind, this well-done compendium is the most current resource available to assist parents, teachers, and librarians in directing children toward the best of what Canadian publishing has to offer. It contains more than 500 recommended titles and is organized by both age and genre (with a brief explanation of what defines each type). Each entry includes a synopsis of content and a brief critical assessment. Works that the authors feel particularly strong about are marked as highly recommended. The criteria for inclusion were availability of the work (no out-of-print materials), literary and artistic quality, books that will lure reluctant readers, and books that are influenced in some way by the Canadian perspective. This guide has numerous access points, including indexes for authors/illustrators, titles, subject matter, and setting, and the information is clear and well-organized. A handy reference tool that has a place both in general collections and on professional shelves.
Robyn Walker, Elgin Court Public School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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