________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 10 . . . .January 20, 2006


The Kids Book of Great Canadians.

Elizabeth MacLeod. Illustrated by John Mantha.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2004.
64 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55337-366-9.

Subject Heading:
Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4



As a boy, Abraham Gesner collected rocks and fossils. He later became a doctor, but between house calls he would pick up rock specimens. In 1842 he opened his own museum- the first museum in Canada- and displayed his collection.

Smart and creative, Abraham learned more about rocks and also became interested in oil and coal, which are found in rock. Around 1846 he saw the need for a lamp oil that was bright and clear, not smelly and smoky like the whale oil used at the time. By 1853 Abraham had developed a type of coal oil that he called “kerosene,” from the Greek words for wax and oil. Soon it was lighting homes across North America, and today’s jet fuel is based on it.


A potpourri of mini-biographies of more than 150 famous Canadians, this book serves as an introduction to the men and women who made (and continue to make) Canada great. Not all of the people featured in the book were born here, but their contributions to this country warrant their inclusion. The people represent all walks of life; some are well-known only in Canada, but others are known around the world. From Celine Dion to Wayne Gretzky, each person’s brief bio covers between one-third of a page and a whole page and includes a small box in which are printed the person’s date of birth, date of death, if applicable, and their claim to fame. The biographies are grouped by categories- heroes (e.g. Terry Fox), exploration, science and technology, business (think Timothy Eaton), the arts, government, and sports. An entire page is devoted to Canada’s Nobel Prize winners, and it is followed by several pages covering a variety of other “greats,” with no more than a few sentences explaining their contributions. Some of these people deserve more extensive coverage and should have been included in the main chapters. David Suzuki, for instance, should have merited a place in the Science and Technology section, but his bio is a mere three sentences long. Occasionally, “Did You Know” fact boxes provide additional information. Illustrations consist of mixed media paintings and some reproductions of commemorative postage stamps. A table of contents, an index and a time line are included.


Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.