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Book Reviews

Imagine That!

by Janet Wilson

Well-known Canadian illustrator Janet Wilson has created a book that melds fiction and non-fiction to highlight events and achievements of the 20th century. A conversation between Great Aunt Violet and her great grandniece Elizabeth flows throughout the centre of each page, with a collage of tiny images around it. Celebrating her 100th birthday, Violet pours out a flood of memories to her eager listener. This part of the story seems crafted for six- to nine-year-olds. However, the non-fiction coloured sidebars, divided by decades, contain a wealth of facts that will appeal to adults with an interest in history. The design is meant to induce readers to match facts in the coloured sidebars with corresponding tiny illustrations of the same shade in the collage.

This book is an ambitious attempt to give an overview of the 20th century and place the achievements of Canadian writers, athletes, and scientists in a global context. Although the illustrator has provided over 700 tiny images, the sheer volume of information in the sidebars makes it difficult to connect the facts and illustrations. There is very little historical context for each achievement. This book might have been more successful as a CD-ROM, so that readers could click on the images, and hear more about each time period. In its present format, it’s an uneasy blend of picture book and the march of history. Though it is meant to be shared by different generations, it does not have enough depth to be satisfying to adults. An index might have helped to locate individual achievements.


Reviewer: Kathleen Bailey

Publisher: Stoddart Kids


Price: $19.95

Page Count: 32 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 0-7737-3221-7

Released: Apr.

Issue Date: 2000-5

Categories: Picture Books

Age Range: ages 4+

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