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Book Reviews

That’s Very Canadian!

by Vivien Bowers, Dianne Eastman, illus.

This book is the third in Vivien Bowers’ series of exclamation point-enhanced titles (after 1999’s Wow Canada! and 2002’s Only in Canada!). All three books share not only the same irreverent tone in educating young readers about all things Canadian, and the same busily visual design, but the same cast of characters.

Though there is inevitably some overlap in content among the three books, Bowers has done a good job in keeping the three distinct by approaching the same basic material from subtly different angles. The first book was a dash from coast to coast, told through the conceit of one family’s long road trip, and the second was a look at people, places, and things that are exclusively Canadian, all accompanied by a bickering moose and goose. That’s Very Canadian! takes the form of a young girl’s school report on the symbols of Canada, from the maple leaf to multiculturalism (with room for stereotypes about Canada and some still-lingering resentment over trading Gretzky to Los Angeles).

Each province and territory is given a page or two for its official coat-of-arms, motto, bird, flower, and so on. There are fairly detailed micro-histories of the Canadian flag and anthem, as well as the evolution of our money. Bowers doesn’t break a lot of new ground in terms of content, though she does include newer Canadian symbols, such as bilingual street signs and the loonie placed under the ice at the 2002 Winter Olympics. The inclusion of each province’s licence plate and a quick look at kitschy Canadian souvenirs are nice touches, too.