The Early Family Home
Contains Illustrations, Index
This book seems to be designed to provide material for elementary school children working on history projects dealing with the European settlement of this continent. The format is that of a scrapbook, the emphasis being on the illustrations, which consist of old etchings and paintings, illustrations from nineteenth century books, and contemporary photographs of activities taking place in restored pioneer villages. It is an attractive book, the sepia tones of all the illustrations giving it an “old-fashioned” aura. The text, which is organized about these pictures, describes living conditions on pioneer farms. Descriptions of houses, furnishings, washing facilities, and the activities of daily life on a bush farm are filled out with poems and accounts of pioneer life from such sources as Susanna Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush. The illustrations are well chosen and in the captions the author makes up names for the people in the pictures as she describes the activities depicted. This photograph album technique should successfully involve the young readers in history, letting them imagine the lives of these “long ago” people.
The publishers announce that this book is part of “The Early Settler Life” series, but give no list of other titles in the series. And who are these “early settlers”? Canadian? American? French? The book’s drawback is that nowhere in the title, nor in the text, is this made clear. The costumes in the illustrations range from the late eighteenth century to early twentieth century, yet the text assumes the pictures are all from the same period. Neither does the writer take into account regional or ethnic differences as she describes the customs and manners of these early settlers. Children will enjoy browsing through this book, but even for elementary school children the text could be more precise.