Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More ABCs

Today, C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet, another installment in Sleeping Bear Press's series of ABC books. (I've got one of my own ABCs cooking -- sad to hear they aren't taking submissions at the moment.) C is for Chinook is written by Dawn Welykochy and illustrated by Lorna Bennett. As in the S is for Spirit Bear, the BC title, the author gives a great overview of the people (Anthony Henday; The Famous Five, Nellie McClung and friends; John Ware, Mary Percy Jackson, etc.), places (Red Deer Valley, Lake Louise, Writing on Stone, Bar U Ranch, etc.), animals (Bighorn sheep, Great horned owl, etc.), and other phenomena representative of the province (e.g., Chinook winds, hoodoos, dinosaurs, icefields, etc.). The four-line poems pique the reader's interest (and may be enough for some), while the longer text blocks expand upon the topic of the page or add more.

Politics aside, I adore Alberta. I lived there for a few years, met my husband there, and travelled through the province as much as I could. I don't think there is a province in our vast country with such a breadth of fabulous parks and interpretive centres. Our most memorable family vacation was to visit friends in the Rockies then head over to southern Alberta to stay at Dinosaur Provincial Park, visit the Tyrrell Museum, walk through a coulee filled with dinosaur nests at a place whose name escapes me, marvel at the walls of petroglyphs at Writing on Stone Provincial Park overlooking the Milk River, then over to Fort MacLeod, Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump and up to Frank Slide. Fabulous stuff. So, this was a nostalgic look back at the province I love.

Welykochy has done a masterful job of exploring the breadth of Alberta and this book provides 26 (and more!) places to springboard off on discussions of the natural and cultural history of the province. Lorna Bennett's uncluttered art, beautifully rendered, helps to evoke the many moods of the province. My favourite is the hunkered down "Doc" Mary Percy Jackson, riding horseback through a snowstorm enroute to assist the women who needed her.

Q test: Q's for erratic quartzite [at Okotoks] (a clever way to bring Okotoks and Ice Age in!)
X test: X stands for railway crossing/By train immigrants came to our land/Settling out west to farm,/ it was what the government planned. (X is a tough one; I'll give her that!)
Z test: Z is for a safari at the Zoo [illustration of zebras] (Segue into a discussion of the world-renowned Calgary Zoo.)

Here's a review from Canadian Materials. And here's a teacher's guide. Finally, meet the author, hear (and see) her read, and learn about the book at this YouTube video.

No comments: