________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 41 . . . . June 24, 2011


L is for Land of Living Skies: A Saskatchewan Alphabet.

Linda Aksomitis. Illustrated by Lorna Bennett.
Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2011.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-58536-490-9.

Subject Headings:
Saskatchewan-Juvenile literature.
Alphabet books-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten and up / Ages 5 and up.

Review by Linda Wood.

**** /4



J is for Jigging

Hear the fiddle start to play,
Set your rhythm - spoon or heel,
let your feet fly as you dance
La Grande Gigue or Chicken Reel.

L is for Land of Living Skies

Slogan on our licence plates
tells about our open sky:
Clouds and sunsets, northern lights,
flocks of many birds that fly.

X is for X-Games Gold

X-Games are the ones to win -
"Air" Blair Morgan did us proud,
bringing home five X-Games gold.
He's the champion of the crowd!

When I received this book, I immediately read L is for Land of Living Skies straight through for topical humorous rhyming quatrains by Linda Aksomitis and vibrant action-filled illustrations by Lorna Bennett.

internal art      The second time I read it, it was for the sidebars. My love of knowledge drew me into the book and kept me thoroughly engaged. I thought I knew everything Saskatchewan until the pages detailing the X-Games, "an international competition held in the United States that take sports to the extreme," and describing Prince Albert's Blair Morgan and his gravity-defying exploits with a snowmobile.

      I recently previewed L is for Land of Living Skies at the Saskatoon Highland Dance Association Competition held at the Delta Bessborough Gardens, a castle-style hotel situated on the South Saskatchewan River, May 28. I placed the book open on a bright yellow picnic blanket and let people know that anyone was welcome to read it, but that the book had to remain where it was.

      With all the pageantry, judging, sound of the bagpipes and swirl of the kilt, I wondered if the book could hold its own in a crowd where multiple dancers of all ages were coming and going constantly.

      Readership and interest was a non-issue. There was a lot of excitement out there already surrounding the book. One grandmother from Saskatoon told me she'd bought a copy of L is for Land of Living Skies for both herself and her husband as well as copies for their grown children, now parents themselves and living in another province and overseas. I spoke to a number of other adults that day including one mother visiting from Regina, SK, and another from Medicine Hat, AB.

      Even though many children aged five to eight stopped by and looked, two in particular of that age category returned throughout the morning to flip through all the pages. They blocked out everything else happening around them to read the book and enjoy the illustrations.

      L is for Land of Living Skies is a book not only for the age category listed above as it would work well as a resource in Social Studies, teaching children including ESL students about Saskatchewan and its gifts of natural resources, history, sports and culture. Downloadable teacher's guides are available at www.gale.cengage.com

      Very young children who can't yet read will enjoy Bennet's paintings. A parent, teacher, or librarian can read this book aloud to a child or group, providing the inflection needed to breathe life into Aksomitis' poetry. Older children will enjoy the fact sheet at the back of the book using comprehension skills for one quiz and a simple Where's Waldo-style game to find Saskatchewan birds.

      Qu'Appelle, SK author Linda Askomitis debuts her first picture book, L is for Land of Living Skies. Her novel, Longhorns and Outlaws, won a ForeWord Magazine Award, New York Book Expo, 2008. Her other novels were finalists for the Saskatchewan Book Awards.

      L is for Land of Living Skies is Edmonton animator and illustrator Lorna Bennett's third picture book in the series written to "Discover Canada Province by Province" which includes C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Wood is a journalist working in Saskatoon, SK.

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

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