Table of Contents

 Book Reviews

 Santa Bear's First Christmas.
Illustrated by Maggie Kneen. Devised and produced by The Templar Company plc, England.
Review by A. Edwardsson.
Preschool - Grade 2 / Ages 3 - 6.

 The Peanut Butter Cookbook for Kids.
Ralph, Judy and Ray Gompf. Illustrated by Craig Terlson.
Review by A. Edwardsson.
Grades 4 and up / Ages 8 and up.

 Mistaken Identity.
Norah McClintock.
Review by Leslie Millar.
Grades 9 - 12 / Ages 14 - 18.

 The Student's Only Survival Guide to Essay Writing.
Steve Good and Bill Jensen.
Review by Joanne Peters.
Grade 12 - College / Adult.

 Let's Play: Traditional Games of Childhood.
Camilla Gryski. Illustrated by Dusan Petricic.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.
All Ages.


 The Little Math Puzzle

 From the Mailbox

 The First Time Correction
I see no reason [other than courtesy] for CM to apologize to Charles Monpetit and Martin Stephens re. the gender error concerning the short story "Borders'. As someone who reviewed the two First Time volumes for CCL (Canadian Children's Literature), I, too, was stumped by the gender of the story's central character. I reread the story a number of times to see if I could find any use of a gender pronoun which would guide me and found none. I also remembered that Monpetit had told readers that, while the stories were all true, readers should not automatically assume that their contents were autobiographical. Consequently, while Stephens is male, I [and others] cannot [and likely do not] automatically assume the story's narrator is also male, especially given that the incidence of abuse of females is so much greater than that of males.

-- Dave Jenkinson, Winnipeg, Manitoba

We welcome all feedback -- just send e-mail to

Duncan Thornton

Executive Assistant
Peter Tittenberger

Book Review

Santa Bear's First Christmas.

Illustrated by Maggie Kneen.
Devised and produced by The Templar Company plc, England.
Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 1995. 12pp, board, $17.95.
ISBN 1-895714-83-4.

Preschool - Grade 2 / Ages 3 - 6.
Review by A. Edwardsson.


"It was Christmas time, and the young bear cubs had persuaded Big Bear to dress up as Santa and hand out presents to everyone. He and his animal helpers had been very busy wrapping and carefully labelling all the gifts. But someone else had been busy too. . . Santa Bear picked up the first present, but found that the label was missing. He looked around at the other gifts. What was this? ALL the labels had disappeared!"

Puzzle and novelty moveable books are universal children's favourites. Combining both those features with a Christmas story should make for a guaranteed winner. Unfortunately, clever 3-D artwork in lift-the-flap format cannot compensate for this books' weak storyline and confusing "mystery."

The opening pages show a large polar bear dressed in a Santa-like red robe, with six small bears clustered around his chair. The edges of this spread have head shots of each cub with their name written above them, and a wrapped gift below. Despite some token differences (for example, one wears a bow tie), they lack individuality and all appear to be the same age. Questions arise: are they supposed to be related? where are their parents? and, what relation is Big Bear?

We follow Santa Bear through the pages as he opens each wrapped gift to find out who it's for: "Next he picked up a pink parcel with a big blue bow. `What can this be?' he wondered." The reader then opens the gift flap. Inside, beside a pop-up doll, the text reads "It was a beautiful ballerina doll. He knew who would like it. Do you know too?" The only way to find out is to flip back to page one. The wrapped package matches the one beside Belinda's mug shot, and, in the chair scene she's the bear wearing a tutu.

Further on . . . "Next was a green parcel with a bright yellow bow. `Splendid,' said Santa. `Just the thing for a certain someone ' [The reader opens the gift flap.] Inside was a large red kite. Which cub do you think would like it?" Back to page one again. The gift matches the one under Dolly. From the group shot we are supposed to be able to deduce she would enjoy the kite because she's the only cub looking out the window. There are easier matches, such as a train for Barney, who's dressed in a conductor's hat and vest and blowing a whistle.

At last Santa Bear had unwrapped all the parcels, but he was still rather puzzled about the missing labels, so he sent his animal helpers to look for them. . . . When they opened the closet doors, what a big surprise they got. All the skittles fell onto the floor! But there were no labels to be seen.

Besides the six bowling pins, many other toys appear to fall out.

"Suddenly Santa Bear noticed something very odd on the Christmas Tree. Can you see what it is?" This is a stumper. Of course, we're supposed to solve the mystery of the labels here, but the third tree that opens from the centrefold only has one thing on it that might be a label, since it's a rectangular card. (Other "decorations" include some bells and candles with small holes at the top, two bows, a Christmas pudding, some holly leaves, and a few stars.)

When you get to the end of the book, you find two pages of double-sided, inch long, colour decorations to punch out and use; since they look like the cards on the tree, and are supposed to represent the labels, this should be a pretty good hint about what to look for. But they hardly resemble actual labels. Besides the fact that some are too dark to write on, none of them resemble the familiar TO: FROM: format that readers could recognize. So Santa Bear is going to be way ahead of the audience in solving this mystery.

" `So that's where they are!' said Santa. `but how did they get there?' Can you help him find out? Look carefully at the pictures in this book and you will find the answer!" This part is another stretch. On the edges of most pages are identical borders with parcels and decorations. Our "clue" is a mouse who hangs by his tail from a decorated garland (not a tree) holding a glass.

The answer on the last page claims "They were taken by the little mice who wanted to use them to decorate the Christmas tree!" But since we don't see the tree until the end of the book, the book hasn't played fair by giving a reader a chance to guess where the labels were destined or what they might be for. Also, it's not clear why the tree wasn't decorated in the first place, since the walls and hearth are festooned.

It was hard enough for this adult to work out that the mice had taken the labels; the pages before the mystery is solved are cluttered with unrelated toys and animal helpers who seem to be moving and wrapping (or are they unwrapping?) parcels. Once I'd seen what the labels looked like at the end, I was able to go back and recognize them in the paws of mice in several scenes. For small children however, the mystery is going to be almost impenetrable without a lot of hints from older readers.

Despite its sturdy movable parts, bright primary colours, and the endearing hardworking helpers, this book is too difficult and confusing to "become a Christmas classic" as the back cover predicts.

Not recommended.

A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. She has a Bachelor of Education degree and a Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.

Book Review

The Peanut Butter Cookbook for Kids

Ralph, Judy and Ray Gompf. Illustrated by Craig Terlson.
Hyperion Paperbacks for Children: New York, 1995: 96pp, paper, $14.95.
ISBN 0-786810-28-9.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 8 and up.
Review by A. Edwardsson.


"Although salted, roasted peanuts continue to be an important snack food, the main use of peanuts in North America is to make peanut butter and its most popular use is for sandwiches. Over 700 million pounds of peanut butter - smooth and chunky -- are produced annually in the United States... Someone in North America eats a peanut butter sandwich every five seconds."

Peanut butter lovers are in luck. Fellow fan Judy Ralph, having taught and participated in programs about nutrition, "kid-tested all the recipes included to ensure accuracy, safety, and good taste!" Her co-author, professional trucker Ray Gompf "collected a wide variety of recipes from fellow truck drivers, travellers, diner cooks, and scores of schoolchildren."

The introductory section illustrates healthy eating based on the U.S. food guide pyramid -- categories are comparable to the Canadian guide. "You've probably heard that foods such as peanut butter, eggs, ice cream, cheese, processed meats, and hot dogs have high fat content. . . . As you grow older you'll have to eat these foods in moderation as your parents do. But you're still growing and need calories from fat for proper growth and development."

Following a brief interesting history of the peanut is information on how to grow your own nuts and make home-made peanut butter. There's a page on kitchen safety and hygiene entitled "Before you Bake." It offers sensible advice including "Always stir [boiling] liquids with a long-handled wooden spoon " and "Do not put your fingers in the bowl or near the moving parts of any appliance when it is running."

Throughout the book, a tiny figure appears holding up a red stop sign. "Depending on the recipe you choose, you may need to use the oven, the microwave, or the heating elements on top of the stove. You may need to use sharp knives, a grater, or the electric mixer. . . . When you see this sign [the child holding the stop sign] in a recipe it signals that you need to get an adult, be alert, and take caution."

However, there is only one recipe that doesn't have the caution symbol in the instructions. Presumably then, young children would need "help" with the other forty nine. Older or experienced children can probably follow and handle the illustrated step by-step instructions. But the older kids may be put off by the constant warning signs however, and by some childish inclusions such as a "Connect the Dots 1 to 36," or "The Shake Song," sung to the tune of "Here we go round the Mulberry Bush."

This theme cookbook contains fifty recipes divided into three categories: "Super Snacks"; "Hale and Hearty"; and "Party Pizazz". The first includes snacks like Ants on a Log, and Fruit Roll Ups. A number of items from "Hale and Hearty" could have been included with the previous section, for example, PB Spread/Dip or PB Bran Fake Squares. There are several main-dish recipes such as Thai Chicken Pizza, or Chicken Stir-fry with Rice and PB sauce. "Party Pizazz" is strictly sweets such as PB Cookiegram or Vanilla PB Squares.

All recipes list ingredients at the beginning, in imperial measurements, and indicate the number of servings. PB Caramel Corn "makes 2 large bowls." Unfortunately, in the snack category, the two drink recipes [PB Milkshakes and PB Hot Chocolate] serve four and five respectively, with no instruction for single servings.

Whimsical and useful illustrations accompany each section, and there are many interesting watercolours by Winnipeg illustrator Craig Terlson that are reminiscent of Pat Cupples' watercolour work in Snow Watch. Terlson drew each and every peanut in the book individually. The multi-racial mix of children shown appear to be in the targeted eight-and-older range.

This appealing cookbook would be a popular selection for school-age programs, libraries or for a child's own collection. Despite a few minor drawbacks this is definitely a recommended purchase.


A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of the Winnipeg Public Library. She has a Bachelor of Education degree and a Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Authors' Association.

Book Review

Mistaken Identity.

Norah McClintock.
Richmond Hill, ON: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 1995. 183pp, paper, $4.99.
ISBN 0-590-24627-5.

Grades 9 - 12 / Ages 14 - 18.
Review by Leslie Millar.


" she read the article, her eyes kept being drawn away from the type to the little photograph beside it. It was a picture of the man suspected of both the robbery and the shooting death of the man named Taglia. Zanny stared at his face, at the wild black eyebrows, the large dark eyes, the strong straight nose, the thick dark hair. She held a thumb over the top of the man's head. No wonder her father had been so pleased about his thinning hair. It was amazing how much hair loss could alter a person's appearance. Zanny looked again at the name printed under the photograph: Michael Alexander. Special agent Wiley hadn't lied to her. Her father hadn't been who she thought he was: good old Mitch Dugan. He had been a thief and murderer named Michael Alexander."

Norah McClintock has three previous publications with Scholastic Canada: Shakespeare and Legs; The Stepfather Games; and Jack's Back. Mistaken Identity is a mystery thriller featuring the dilemmas of sixteen-year-old Zanny Dugan. Zanny has spent her life on the move with her father, living on the fringe of social life in any community they happened to stop in. Zanny's protective father always made sure that she didn't make many friends.

Then it seemed that at last they might be settling down in Birk Falls, which suited Zanny fine. But her father's sudden suicide (or was it murder?), and the appearance of police, special federal agents, and an uncle she never knew she had, all threaten Zanny's tenuous new-found stability. The police and Special Agent Wiley tell Zanny that her father was not who she thought he was. Zanny sets out to find the truth about her father's past, and about her own identity as well.

This puts Zanny in the position of strong lone heroine. The setting has a contemporary feel without any specific culture or consumer references to pin it down. There is nothing in the vocabulary or style to prevent younger readers from enjoying Mistaken Identity, but I've given it a minimum grade nine level mostly because of the violence; the body count is up to four by the end of the book.

And there is something in McClintock's treatment of a tragic event like the suspicious death of a father that left me cold. Perhaps the cliched language had something to do with it. This is a world where your stomach "churns," knees "buckle," and people "speak abruptly'' and get "sudden ideas." Mistaken Identity could probably be a successful made-for-TV movie, featuring any member from the cast of Beverly Hills 90210.

Mistaken Identity does not merit the label of literature, but as a filler for the class or school library, to encourage reading, it's harmless. Personally, I prefer Agatha Christie. For formulaic mysteries they possess a light airy quality that is lacking in Mistaken Identity.

Recommended with reservations.

Leslie Millar is a substitute teacher and volunteer in Winnipeg schools.

Book Review

The Student's Only Survival Guide to Essay Writing.

Steve Good and Bill Jensen.
Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 1995. 200pp, paper, $16.95.
ISBN 1-55143-038-X.

Grade 12 - College / Adult.
Review by Joanne Peters.

The title of this book suggests that a student can grab it in desperation and use it as a life-preserver while drowning in a sea of writing assignments. The cover even depicts a bleary-eyed student atop his word-processor, afloat on a stormy sea.

But Good and Jensen's book is really aimed at the first- or second-year college or university undergraduate who is willing to address seriously the problems involved in the writing of academic essays, long before they face a deadline. The authors make it clear that writing is a time-intensive process, and that students have to invest themselves in the process of analyzing the rhetorical problem they have to solve when faced with a writing assignment.

As such, Good and Jensen assume that the reader of their text will have a fairly high level of motivation, can analyze their difficulties as writers, and have the willingness to really work through the multiple levels of revision and re-thinking necessary make their writing effective. And for such a student, this book, which provides several structural models for shaping most academic writing, could be helpful.

But it is not a useful book for the profoundly disabled writer; working through the book is really a mini-course in what used to be called "freshman composition." The Student's Only Survival Guide to Essay Writing is recommended as a useful supplemental text for composition courses, but it really is not the text for the student struggling to "survive" a writing program. Such a student needs intensive instruction of the sort that probably no text can properly provide.

Recommended with reservations.

Joanne Peters is a librarian at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg.

A Message from Orca Publishers

The Student's Only Survival Guide
to Essay Writing

Steve Good and Bill Jensen

The S.O.S. Guide to Essay Writing is perhaps the only book on the subject that is written specifically with the student -- rather than the instructor -- in mind. The focus of this book is on what the student needs to survive!

Developed and field-tested over a five-year period, The S.O.S. Guide details a proven, consistent and effective method for the preparation of undergraduate essays across the disciplines. Not intended as a textbook, The S.O.S. Guide speaks directly to the student, providing step-by-step solutions to the "problems" of essay writing

The S.O.S. Guide provides a comprehensive "plan of attack," taking the student through the complete process of essay writing from the initial assignment to the finished product. Among the topics covered are:

ISBN 1-55143-038-X; 200 pages, 6x9, paperback: $16.95

For additional information, please contact Christine Toller at (604) 380-1229 or by email at (Orca Book Publishers).

PO Box 5626, Station B
Victoria, BC V8R 6S4
Phone 604/380-1229 fax 604/380-1892

Book Review

Let's Play: Traditional Games of Childhood.

Camilla Gryski. Illustrated by Dusan Petricic.
Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1995. 48pp, cloth, $16.95,
ISBN 1-55074-256-6.

All Ages.
Review by Lorraine Douglas.


"People have been playing games for thousands of years. Games have been played in different ways in other times and places, but the patterns are always the same. We love to jump and hop, throw and catch, chase and hide."

The queen of string figures -- Camilla Gryski -- bring us another entertaining look at childhood pastimes. She includes counting-out rhymes; variants of tag; hide and seek; hunt the thimble; leapfrog; hopscotch; skipping, ball, clapping, and hand games; and jacks and marbles.

The easy-to-read instructions for the games are accompanied by whimsical and lively drawings done in ink and light washes of watercolour. The illustrator recently did the artwork for Bone Button Borscht by Aubrey Davis (Kids Can, I995) and was an established children's book illustrator in Belgrade before he came to Canada. Interspersed through the book are double-page illustrations of people playing the games. These are hilarious as icicles drip from the frozen tag players and chubby grannies hopscotch in the park.

Tantalizing titbits about the historical backgrounds of the games are included.

Highly recommended.

Lorraine Douglas is Youth Services Coordinator for the Winnipeg Public Library.


The Little Math Puzzle Contest

Tom Murray, the coordinator of the The Math Puzzle, has been kind enough to give CM permission to run the weekly Little Math Puzzle Contest (inspired by The Great Canadian Trivia Challenge.)

Royal West Academy (a high school) in Montreal, Quebec is sponsoring a little math puzzle contest.

This contest is open to all participants but is designed for students in grades five through ten. English will be the language used for all problems and if their solutions relate to a language, the language will be English.

Contest Format:

Each week a new puzzle will be presented and the answers and winners from two weeks earlier will be posted. Answers are to be received by 8:00 a.m. eastern time the following Friday.

The answers will then be judged, and a correct answer along with the winners' names, will be posted with the puzzle two weeks later.

Both individual students and entire classes are welcome to participate.

Do not to send your answers to CM.
Instead, please send all answers to Andrea Pollock and Alex Nazarov at the following address:

With your solution please include your names, school, grade, and e-mail address, and your city.

Question #11 from two weeks ago was the following:

What are the next two numbers? 61, 52, 63, 94, 46, __ , __

New deadline (try a new approach) December 8st.

Answer #11:

Many students sent in answers of which they said they were not sure. When you 'see' this one you will be sure.

There were some very impressive solutions such as the ones well explained below from Winnipeg. One is a neat solution to the number set that went out in error.

There is a much simpler pattern to #11 that may be found. Problems are puzzles. Look for a twist, try another approach, it is not intended to be a trick. The puzzle is one of my favourites and a little different so you have been given the next number as a hint and publication of the answer will be delayed a week. Hopefully someone will enjoy a flash of insight.

A very common (incorrect) answer was 65 and 136 such as given by Clyde Dohey level 1, Fatima Academy St. Bride's Newfoundland

I like how you were thinking but the 13 was based on a guess at a pattern from 2 numbers. You need 3 at least to show a pattern.

A very rare answer(correct?).

The next two numbers are 145 & 216: Between 61 & 52 is a distance of -9; from 52 to 63 is +11. Therefore, the jump in adding numbers is +20.

61-9 = 52; 52+11 = 63; 63+31 = 94; 94+51 +145; 145+71 = 216

By Brett Kuntz, Gr. 7 B, Mennonite Brethren Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB

Here is a neat solution to the number set that went out in error (WOW).

61, 52, 63, 49, 67, 44

increase by 2 on the first number, then decrease by 3 the second number; place results after the first two numbers, then continue...

61+2, 52-3, 63+4, 49-5, etc., working on every other number

By Eric Klatt, Gr. 7 B, Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Inst., Winnipeg, MB

The Winners - Solvers of Puzzle #11

The people who answered puzzle #11 correctly were:

  1. Jane Scaplen's grade 6 French Immersion class
    Sacred Heart Elementary - Marystown, Newfoundland
  2. Lindsay Pettigrew and Nick Humber in Mr.Garbaty's Grade 8 class
    St.Margaret's School - Sarnia ,Ontario.
  3. Gail Snow & Jennifer Mullett in Edgar Lee's class
    Lakewood Academy - Glenwood
  4. Ryan Cook, Kiran Helferty, Evan Powell, Vincent Spano Ms. L. Laudoniio' s Grade 5
    Gregory A. Hoggan School Sarnia, Ontariio
  5. Chris Galipeau, Frank Spano, Shawn Andrews in Mrs. Pitt's class
    Gregory Hogan School Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
  6. Erin Doyle, Jaclyn Doyle
    Lambton County Roman Catholic Separate School Board Sarnia, Canada
  7. Meagan Heard Grade 9
    Cunard Junior High School - Halifax, N.S.
  8. ( and a unique solution - also satisfying the problem )
    Brett Kuntz, Gr. 7 B
    Mennonite Brethren Collegiate, Winnipeg, MB

Puzzle #13

This week's Question #13 is the following:

What are the next two numbers in the set?

30, 27, 9, 12, 9, 3, 6, 3, 1, ___, ___

Send your response by 8:00 a.m., Friday, December 8st to:

Andrea Pollock and Alex Nazarov
Royal West Academy, Montreal West, Quebec.

Copyright © 1995 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

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