Sue Giles was a librarian at the Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto.
Fitzhenry & Whiteside are publishing a new series of books designed primarily for use at the elementary level in schools. These three books are examples from levels one and two of this series. Each series consists of four “readers” and a teacher’s manual, and all are written around the theme of the series, “Canadian families.”
Each book is a 32-page picture book, with the text forming an integral part of the whole page. At the bottom of each page is a symbol that presumably relates to the teacher’s manual but that could also be used by a parent as a starting point for discussion.
Winter Holiday, a level-one book, is, I feel, the least successful of the three. While, in line with present practice, it does not appear to be based on a “controlled” vocabulary, the text seems stilted and does not flow easily. The story line, however, is quite effective: two boys visit their aunt and uncle in what is probably Quebec and are introduced to bilingualism and all the fun of winter, including the Sugar Bush. The illustrations for this book are more stylized than for the other two and are somewhat less attractive to children.
Cottage Weekend and New Friends are level-two books and each has a theme that children can relate to. Cottage Weekend tells of a single-parent family and shows how to organize everything to make life more fun and less stressful; New Friends is the story of a handicapped peer (in this case in a wheelchair) and how he has the same interests and desire to do things as the other children. Both books have attractive, story-related illustrations that offer many topics for further discussion, whether the book is read at school or at home.
Overall, this is an attractive series of books. The stories are interesting in themselves, and they also offer many opportunities for further discussion on family, community, and social topics. Suitable for young readers both in school and in the home.