CM February 23, 
1996. Vol. II, Number 19

image A People Apart.

Kathleen Kenna. Photographs by Andrew Stawicki.
Toronto: Somerville House, 1995. 64pp, cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-895897-59-9.

Subject Heading:
Old Order Mennonites-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 - 8 / Ages 8 - 13.
Review by Deborah Mervold.



"Mennonites do not usually allow their pictures to be taken, because they believe that pride is a sin. They do not have family photograph albums or carry photographs of their children. That would be considered showing off. Many of the people in this book had never been photographed. Some had never even spoken with anyone who was not a Mennonite, because they believe that in order to preserve their traditions, they should stay separate from people who are not Mennonites. But as they came to trust us, members of several Old Order congregations spoke about their lives and welcomed us into their homes and meetinghouse. They agreed to be photographed and to speak with us about their lives because they want readers to understand how Mennonites live."

image In A People Apart, the photographs of award-winning photographer Andrew Stawicki -- incredible in their own right -- complement journalist and reporter Kathleen Kenna's well-written account of the lives of "Old Order" Mennonites. Kenna's short, simple sentences, and carefully chosen vocabulary make this an excellent non-fiction choice for the study of families in primary grades or of culture in middle grades. Adults will also enjoy both the information and the photographs.


As the excerpt above explains, the book was created with the cooperation of the Mennonites in Elmira and Saint Jacob's, Ontario. The project is unusual because of the Mennonite feeling that they are a "people apart" from modern society. Kenna covers many important aspects in the life of the Mennonite community from barn-raising to religious services and education. A brief historical note is included putting the community into a Canadian and world context.

A People Apart examines the whole life of the commmunity: behaviour, customs, and traditions. The use of excommunication to discipline of family members completes this realistic account of an Old Order Mennonite community. This book would be a welcome addition to any school, public, or home library.

Highly recommended.

Deborah Mervold teaches senior high-school English and works as a K-12 teacher-librarian. She lives in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan and is also chair of the local public Library board.

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Copyright © 1996 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