Messages to the Students
(posted by ECS210 students, Fall 2011)
Title: Stotan!
Author: Chris Crutcher
Theme: Friendship; Commitment; Identity Achievement; Socio-economic [in]stability; Racism; Abuse; Relationships; Reality of life.
Brief Summary: This novel is about the bond between four male grade twelve speed swimmers (Walker, Nortie, Lion, and Jeff), and how they battle through the challenges of adolescence together. In their last year of high school, the four student athletes participate in Stotan week; a week of gruelling workouts and training that will test both their swimming skills and their ability to work, family instability, racism, and the reality of life and eventual death, all in the confines together as a team. These four young men go through a lot together and learn life lessons about love, friendship of Spokane, Washington.
Critical Analysis (Messages): This novel has so many things to offer teenagers that are growing up in a world that might not always make sense. The main character and narrator, Walker, has his own difficulties sorting out his adolescent love life, as he experiences feelings for one of his best friends, Elaine. Also, one of his best friends and teammates, Nortie, is constantly being physically abused and pummeled by his racist drunk of a father, which nearly forces Nortie to the brink of suicide. Conversely, Lion has lived alone since the age of fourteen, after he lost his parents to a car accident. Reality sets in, as one of the members of the group, Jeff, is diagnosed with a terminal illness in the middle of their season. This novel represents the true struggle for identity achievement, which is something that every adolescent must go through, and displays a variety of ‘speed bumps’ that get in the way of their identity achievement.
Submitted by: Colton Neithercut

Title:Alfred’s Summer
Author: Darrell W. Pelletier
Theme: The First Nations struggle to be recognized
Brief Summary: Alfred’s Summer is a story written in Cree and English about a boy who enjoys his summer visits with his Moshom and Kokom who live away from the city in the country. In the story Alfred talks about the activities he enjoys there and the connection he shares while listening to his Moshom’s stories of his earlier life.
Critical Analysis (Messages):
One of the main requirements for developing a valuable connection to this story lies in the importance that language plays in self-awareness. The ability to either read and speak Cree, have a Cree speaking student in the class who could read the story, or have an Elder available to tell the story of “Alfred’s Summer” would be essential to convey this message. A missing representation in this story would be the connection that Alfred might have with his Kokom as this is not explored. First Nations Traditions tend to focus learning through gender roles so it’s possible that the Author saw Alfred’s connection to his grandfather as more significant for this story. Students who haven’t had traditional family settings in their lives may find it difficult to connect to this idea of bridging generations so some adaptations for those students may be necessary to help them understand the intent of mentored learning.
By Wendy Heymen

Author: Dav Pilkey
Theme: Acceptance, Treat others how you want to be treated, Self confidence
Brief Summary:
One little dog named Oscar was different then all the other dogs. He was a wiener dog and the other dogs made fun of him for the way he looked. He was made fun of for being short and long and the other dogs called him a wiener. Today was Halloween and Oscar was very excited. However, when he got home and looked at his costume his worst night mare had come true; his costume was a hot dog bun! Although he was embarrassed by the costume he wore it out so his mom’s feelings were not hurt. As soon as the other dogs saw his costume they made fun of him again. His costume slowed him down and so he did not get any candy. A monster came out and scared the other dogs into the pond. Since Oscar was short he could see that the monster was not a monster at all. Oscar heroically tore down the costume to reveal two cats. Now the other dogs felt embarrassed but Oscar was the ‘bigger’ puppy and a true friend he jumped into the water and rescued the others. Oscar taught those dogs a valuable lesson that night. The other dogs now called him ‘hero’ instead of ‘wiener’ and nobody ever made fun of Oscar again! Happy Halloween!
Critical Analysis (Messages):
This book teaches children the fundamental aspects about bullying, racism, discrimination, and ableism. It helps kids to understand that making fun of someone else is hurtful and causes embarrassment. It also teaches students that they should be proud of who they are and should not change themselves to fit in with their peers. It promotes the fact that working hard and being a true friend will get you ahead in life. Because Oscar did not stoop to the other dog’s level it also shows students that two wrongs don’t make a right. By illustrating different breeds of dogs this shows students that physical differences do not have an impact on friendships.
However, this book emphasizes too much on the need to fit in and does not place enough emphasis on the discriminating against physical appearances. In addition, because they were all dogs it doesn’t stress to students the importance that anyone can be friends. We think if they used different species this could have been illustrated better.
Submitted by: Samantha H & Victoria L

Title- The Lorax
Author- Dr. Seuss
Theme- Equity and Ethics
Summary- The story is a cautionary tale relating the negative aspects inherent in unrelenting resource extraction and the negative effects on the environment and bio-diversity. It follows the quest of a young boy who, curious about the environmental degradation of his town and the strange name of his street ( named after the Lorax), endeavors to ask someone who might know. The source of this information turns out to be a creature named the Onceler, a ruined industrialist who has harvested the once abundant Truffula Trees from the area and brought about the destruction of the environment. The Onceler relates his tale of coming to the area, beautiful and diverse with life. He begins to cut the Truffula Trees to make into products and soon his business is booming, at the expense of the local plant and animal life. The defender of the forest and animals, a creature called the Lorax, repeatedly confronts the Onceler as his business grows. Eventually, disregarding the repeated warnings of the Lorax, the area is destroyed and becomes devoid of life and the Lorax is lifted away by an unknown force. Only a short pedestal on which the Lorax once stood remains, and written upon it, the word – ‘unless’.
Critique- The Lorax was written in 1971 at the dawn of a burgeoning environmental movement. While relevant in its day and in the years since, its importance today can hardly be overstated. Students of all ages would benefit from not only learning the lessons implied in the themes of the story, but even more so in internalizing the values and morals drawn from the text. The story is an effective and humorous allegory that can be used to introduce or emphasize the imminent threat facing the natural world from contemporary industrial society. The ever expanding growth inherent in capitalist economies makes clear that the remaining resources of the world are under threat and correspondingly, the bio-diversity of plant and animal life of an increasingly exploited planet. In addition, people around the world are being displaced and impoverished as their traditional economies are being undermined by development, and though industrialists and business interests would undoubtedly argue that this is a necessary expansion that provides jobs and goods, it is important for students to examine and reflect in whose interests these decisions are made. The story, written thirty years ago, is more relevant and important than ever before, and though serious progress has been made to foster environmental awareness as part of the public consciousness, one does not need to look far to see that more effort is needed.

Title: Masai and IAuthor: Virginia Kroll
Illustrations: Nancy Carpenter
Theme: Culture and Diversity
Brief Summary: A girl learns about an East African group of people called the Masai at school one day. She looks at all of the different parts of her life and daily routine. She then compares them to what it would be like if she was growing up as a part of the Masai culture in Africa. She notices many differences and a couple of similarities between the two different cultures.
Critical Analysis (Messages):
A lot of racism and stereotypes come from not fully understanding different cultures or their ways of life. It is important for children, especially at a young age to respect and try and understand different cultures. This children’s book does a good job of that, in a way that can be easily understood for different age levels. I enjoy the comparisons of how her day is as a part of her culture to if she were a Masai. Although this is meant to be a children’s book, you could incorporate it into lesson plans for different grade levels. The pictures add to the creative displays of culture. You not only read what the girl is experiencing but also see it. I think that this is incredibly important when trying to understand and appreciate other cultures.

Title: How Humans Make Friends
Author: Loreen Leedy
Theme: A how-to on the subject of friendship.
Brief Summary:
Dr. Tripork has just been to Earth to find out how people make friends and shares his findings with his fellow aliens. He shows how humans meet, get to know each other, and what activities they enjoy together. Dr. Tripork also discusses feelings and how friends resolve conflicts.
Critical Analysis (Messages):
Loreen Leedy’s “How Humans Make Friends” provides us with an elementary guide to the rules of friendship, including how to resolve conflicts. Through this book, readers see how human friendships appear through the eyes of an “alien”. This book effectively makes it easy for children to recognize the various ways to make new friends as well as remain a good friend. This book also shows how sometimes friendships can run into conflicts and how it can be fixed. The multicultural illustrations are accurate and they depict real life situations that kids can relate to. This is a humorous book but it presents the serious message in a meaningful way.

By Nikki Thiessen
Title: "Redruff: The Story of the Don Valley Partridge", in Wild Animals I Have Known
Author: Ernest Thompson Seton
Theme: Learn from mistakes; animal rights; single parent families; family bonds; children should respect/obey their parents ("obedience is long life")
Brief Summary:
This story follows the behaviours and difficulties of survival of a 'partridge' family (Ruffed Grouse, Bonasa umbellus) over the course of a life cycle. Mother Grouse teaches her large brood of chicks how to find food and escape danger, but over time predators (animal and human) and disease claim the weakest birds and only three survive to maturity. The strongest, Redruff, encounters solitude, courtship, good fortune, and loss along his life journey. After a merciless hunter kills his mate, Redruff continues to care for his remaining offspring. Throughout the story, Redruff is plagued by a hunter, who eventually causes Redruff a slow and painful death by the irresponsible use of a snare trap.
Critical Analysis (Messages):
This story comes from a collection of children's nature stories written from the point of view of different animals. In this story, Seton mingled the results of his detailed wildlife observations with his love of nature and artistic ability to paint a realistic rather than purely romantic view of animals and nature. Written in the style of its time (1898), the text is rich and descriptive; this provides an opportunity for cross-curricular connections to be made with vocabulary and forms of writing. One caveat is that a few terms have become antiquated since the time of publication and have fallen out of common usage. One such term is the word "coon", which is used here as a shortened form of "raccoon", but in modern usage has assumed a slang form with derogatory connotations. However, aside from this notable example, the text generally fits well with modern vocabulary and is easily comprehensible.

Seton used a Darwinian perspective (i.e. natural selection) and referenced many relevant biological concepts, such as genetics, innate behaviours, adaptations, courtship rituals, survival, and predation. This may convey to children a more realistic view of nature and of life, that there is not always a 'happy ending'. In addition, Seton conveys the importance of families sticking together in crisis, and parents as positive role models. Throughout the story, Seton advocates for responsible hunting and wildlife management, as well as respect for and humane treatment of animals.

One downfall with this story is that it is at times overdramatic, especially with the detailed descriptions of the unfortunate ends met by a few of the characters. Also, the hunter in the story was portrayed as being an uneducated tramp and irresponsible hunter; this negative light may propagate the stereotype that all hunters are generally disposed as such, and that all forms of hunting are bad. Another downfall is the humanistic portrayal of the animal characters in the story; although children may relate better to the characters, assigning human-like relationships and thought processes to animals may propagate an inaccurate view of wildlife rather than the importance of objectivity in scientific study.

I would recommend this resource for use in the classroom with a caution to address stereotypes and reconcile an otherwise great piece of literature with modern thinking. There is an opportunity to connect students of all ages with conservation practices, nature, and other facets of environmental education, and different grade levels can examine the story's content for different meaning or purposes. Rather than reading or assigning the entire story, one may use excerpts with greater effect to highlight different areas of course content.

-Submitted by Ryan Dudragne

Title: It’s Called Dyslexia
Author: Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
Theme: Learning Disabilities, Family Support
Brief Summary:
Sarah is excited to start school and begin reading and writing, but she has more difficulty with it than she expected. She tries to avoid school until her teacher discovers her difficulty. After a meeting with her parents and a couple of tests they discover she has dyslexia. Sarah then discusses what dyslexia is and how students deal with it. With extra help at school and extra support at home, Sarah finds out she has a special talent in poetry, initially hidden behind her dyslexia.
Critical Analysis (Messages):
The purpose of It’s Called Dyslexia is to educate students on this common learning disability. This book made this disability seem easy to overcome and that the main character, Sarah, did not really struggle at all. It seemed as though she overcame this disability in a matter of days or weeks, when in reality it can take years to develop skills necessary to successfully read and write. The book also assumes that there will be parental support at home which may not always be the case. A positive aspect of this book is that Sarah did not seem to feel excluded or different from her peers. Having the teacher acknowledge her difficulties in reading and writing allowed her learning disability to be found instead of ignoring her struggle.
By Shelby Mackey and Danielle Gomersall

Children on the Move: An Active Living Alphabet
June LeDrew, Kim Anderson
An active living book inspired by active learning at home, school, inside-outside, encouraging kids to build physical activity into their daily routine
Brief Summary:
- Shows that being active and having fun can take place any where
- Learning to read and relating it to day to day life helps kids relate themselves to the book
- Promoting health literacy in school, or at home
Critical Analysis (Messages):
- Pictures show children of different ethnicities
- Pictures show children with different disabilities
- Various activities for all children
- Made to help teachers connect physical activity and learning together
- Letters are in big font making it easy to read
- At the bottom of the page there is a part where the children can get involved in reading the book by searching for words that start with that letter
- The book is an activity in its self
- It is a Canadian book which gives children a sense of prie of where they come from
- Easy read for children
- Made for teachers by teachers
- One odd thins on the page “f”, there is a man in the back ground eating fries
  • The fries contradict the point of the book

By: Brittney Evans, Savannah Zolinski

Title: Anorexia and Bulimia
Author: Elizabeth Silverthorne
Theme: Eating disorders, specifically anorexia and bulimia
Brief Summary: This book does a good job at explain eating disorders, specifically anorexia and bulimia. It can be a resource for students and teachers as it lays out the signs and symptoms of people that are anorexic or bulimic. It talks about the causes and explains how media has an impact on people. It also talks about the consequences of anorexia and bulimia, treatment options, and ways to maintain healthy eating habits are touched on too.
Critical Analysis (Messages): This novel does a good job of relating the topic back to the students by giving real life examples of people that have dealt with these disorders. It gives students a critical lens to look through when looking at media and discusses how people are affected by what others say, which can play a role in the development these disorders. The book lays out signs and red flags of anorexia and bulimia, which can help students be aware of themselves and their friends. The book is well laid out and uses language that students will be able to understand.
By:Landon Brodner
Submitted by: Scott Hunter

Title: A Promise is a Promise
Author: Robert Munsch and Micheal Kusugak , Illustration: Vladyana Krkorka
Theme: Honesty, the Importance of Family, Actions and Consequences, Problem Solving and Decision Making, Inuit Legends
Brief Summary:
This story tells the tale of a young Inuit girl who breaks a promise to her mother and pays with delivering her siblings to an almost certain death under the sea. Allashua is a young girl who promises her mother she will only fish on the lake, for evil Qallupolluit live under the ocean and grab children who are not with their parents. Allashua promises her mother she will not fish on the ocean but she lies because she believes that Qallupolluit do not exist. She is proved wrong and must bring all of her brothers and sisters to the Qallupolluit to pay for her foolishness.
Critical Analysis (Messages):
A Promise is a Promise is a storybook which allows children to see that even they are responsible for their actions. When Allashua breaks her promise to her mother, children are able to see that if you are untrustworthy and lie, bad things will happen. The idea that every action has a consequence is one that many children need to learn, no matter what age. This idea can be linked to many things in everyday life- bullying, relationships, and life decisions in general. If children believe that saying something hurtful to another child will have no effect, they should realize that every action has a consequence. Allashua had her family to help her through her problems; which teaches children not to be afraid to go to others for help. Children who do not speak up may limit themselves in their ability to solve their problems. The use of Inuit legends also puts a positive light on Canada’s north and the Inuit people, as students learn a little bit about their culture and values. The title A Promise is a Promise is a message within itself-be honest with yourself and others, do not make promises you are not going to keep because if you are dishonest, who will believe you when you are honest?
Submitted by: Shayleen McFarlane

Title: The Listening Project

Author: Joel Weber and Dominc Howes (Co-Producers)

Theme: Equity and Ethics

Brief Summary: This film follows four Americans around the world as they seek to listen to what people of a variety of different nations have to say about America and it’s impact on the world.

Critical Analysis (Messages): The Listening Project, made in 2008, is a 85 minute documentary style film. Despite being a documentary, it is thoroughly engaging, as it moves from one area of the world to the next, featuring short clips of interviews with regular people talking about their understanding of the most powerful nation on the earth and how it affects them. The benefit of the documentary being set up in this way is that it allows the teacher to use as much or as little of it as desired- even the four minute trailer is very powerful. Although this documentary is an American one, Canadian students can benefit from seeing it too, because as a nation, we are almost always somehow involved in the interactions of America with the rest of the world. Often times, Canada is seen by the world as simply an extension of America in many ways, and in many ways, that is what we have become. Not only is Canada seen as closely associated with America, but we have also come to understand the rest of the world through the predominantly American viewpoint of much of the television, movies, music, and other media that we engage with on a regular basis. The voices of the people interviewed in The Listening Project are also valuable for us to hear, and allow us to hear them from the true source, in the places around the world that we normally fear, distrust, and pity.
Submitted by Merrissa Karmark

Title: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
Author: Richard Louv
Theme: Outdoor Education

Brief Summary: Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods is a beautifully written allegiance to the wild and free childhood that escapes so many youth today. Richard Louv discusses how his childhood of traipsing through the woods is dramatically different to recent generations. Children and adolescents are so connected to the technology of the world that they lack the connection to nature. Louv introduces his diagnoses of nature-deficit disorder and the risk that it imposes on children today. Reading through this excellent resource it is hard to not remember your childhood and the youths of today have such a different experience.

Critical Analysis: Last Child in the Woods is an excellent read for not only teachers but also parents and even students can find enlightenment in it. Louv’s novel is a written dedication to outdoors and is an answer to so many youth that struggle with traditional school methods. The first few chapters are easy reads with straightforward concepts. Further reading into this resource does get more challenging yet in those later chapters targets and concepts have more applications. Also to be noted in the updated and expanded version of this resource there are student activities, further reading resources noted, and applications for teachers and parents. Overall this is an excellent resource that I will be using as a future educator of all subjects.

Suggested Grade Level: 9-12 Curriculum Subject Area(s): Physical Education and Health especially yet applicable in all subjects.

Submitted by: Madison Bailey 200284243

Title: My Princess Boy
Author: Cheryl Kilodavis, Illustrated by Suzanne DeSimone
Theme: sexual orientation; sexual discrimination; acceptance; gender

Brief Summary: The character in the book is a four-year-old boy who dresses as a princess. He loves to wear pink clothes, dance and act like a princess. His family continually supports the boy; however, there are several people who criticize, judge, and laugh at the princess boy.

Critical Analysis (Messages): My Princess Boy, published in 2011, is a contemporary book which allows children to begin to understand the difficulties in gender stereotypes, such as boys who wear pink. The parents in this book foster the princess boy’s needs for his happiness, ignoring the possibility of negative feedback from community members. The author, who is the mother, promotes the idea of never ending love, understanding, and acceptance. This book emphasizes acceptance and individuality. However, in today’s society, some parents might disagree with the novel’s message. Other parents may want to address the topic of sexual orientation with their children and family morals and values could be incorporated. This book would be an excellent discussion starter.
Submitted by: Erica Frazer & Jenna Miller

Tittle: Speak
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Theme: Bullying, Friendships, Family, Relationships, Identity, Sense of belonging and communication

Brief Summary: Melinda Sordino’s is a young lady in grade 9 from Syracuse, New York. She was raped at a party by one of her fellow peers. She called the police for help but left before they arrived. Due to her friend’s lack of knowledge about the rape, they believe she called the police to break up the party. Her friends won’t talk to her and the people she doesn’t know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be alone is in her head. But even that is not safe because she keeps replaying that night in her head and she sees the boy who raped her around school every day.

Critical Analysis (Messages): Speak was published in 1999. This novel intends to deal with real issues faced by youth today. Some of these issues include rape, depression, relationships, sex and lack of communication with teachers and parents. We found that the novel relates to issues in a way that students can connect to in everyday situations. The representation of the characters makes it simple for student to relate to their own lives. This novel is a great resource for youth who are struggling with finding their identity. It is also a resource that can be tied in with worldwide events. For example, one in ten sexual assaults are reported and over fifty percent of sexual assaults are to youth under the age of eighteen (Stats Canada). This novel has excellent structure in effort to create inclusion for students who deal with bullying, friendships, family, relationships, identity, sense of belonging and communication.
Submitted By: Tiana Fleischhacker and Christina Costanza

Sample One:

Titles: The Moccasins and Kids Need to be Safe
Authors: Earl Einarson, Illustrated by Julie Flett; Julie Nelson; Illustrated by Mary Gallagdner
Theme: Caring Foster Families; Diverse families; kids are important and need to be safe
Brief Summary: The Moccasins: A birth to adult story of an aboriginal boy raised in foster care by his foster mother in a loving, supportive and respectful environment. His aboriginal culture is represented by the moccasins his foster mother gives him and that he keeps until he has a son of his own and passes them to him. Kids Need to be Safe: An illustrated picture book that discusses foster care as a positive, safe place for kids to go when their parents can no longer take care of them in a healthy environment.
Critical Analysis: Both books nurture the necessity for children of all cultural backgrounds to have safety, love, understanding, and in the case of The Moccasins, awareness of their heritage. Both books intentionally promote foster care as a safe and happy place where parents are supportive and involved. In The Moccasins, it is implicitly suggested that the child's culture is respected and significant. In reality, not every foster home provides a safe and happy environment. In Kids Need to be Safe, when foster families are illustrated, the father is missing. The same is true throughout The Moccasins until the end of the story when the narrator is himself a father. The Moccasins may promote stereotypes in terms of what aboriginal people, boys in particular, may wear on their feet, suggesting perhaps that all aboriginal people wear moccasins.
Submitted By:

Sample Two:

Title: Who's Who in My Family
Author: Loreen Leedy
Theme: Extended, Immediate and Blended Families
Brief Summary:
The characters in the book explain their family from a child’s perspective. They identify their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, as well as half siblings, parents who are divorced and their new spouses as well as through one child who was adopted. They show each other how everyone’s family is different but special.
Critical Analysis:
This book was published in 1995, and its obvious intent is to demonstrate to students that there are different kinds of families. However, we found it to be quite weak in terms of following through on that initial intent. The families presented were all of the same animal species, (ex. A frog family, a skunk family) which can quite easily be representative of race. It shows that acceptable families all marry in the same ‘species’ and also even only adopt the same ‘species’. Each family has a mom and dad, no same gender parents. Gender role stereotyping is also evident. With only one exception, the women in this book are all wearing high heels and a dress/skirt, they carry bottles, tea and do gardening. Men wear ties, carry keys, and are situated at the head of the table. They are all obviously affluent and always happy. The ratio of pages between animals was also noteworthy. There were 15 pages devoted to a ‘white cat’ character, and 3 pages of other darker coloured animals (skunk, frog, and squirrel). The white cat practically narrates the book and other than the teacher, is shown to have the most power and attention in the book. This book is an attempt on creating inclusion for children from divorced families, or who have been adopted, however it presents an inaccurate picture of what a family is or can be in today’s society.
Submitted By:

Sample Three:

Title: Jingle Dancer
Author: Cynthia L. Smith
Theme: Culture/Diversity
Brief Summary: A contemporary Native American girl named Jenna wanted to be a pow-wow dancer just like her Grandmother Wolfe. How can Jenna dance at the next pow-wow without jingles for her dress? In search of jingles for her dress Jenna visits her Grandmother, her Great Aunt Sis, her friend Mrs. Scott, and her cousin Elizabeth. Jenna borrowed a row of jingles from each of them because Jenna did not want their dress to lose their voice. Jenna borrows one row from Great-aunt Sis, whose aching legs keep her from dancing; another from Mrs. Scott, who sells fry bread; one from Cousin Elizabeth, who was working on a case; and a fourth row from Grandma. In order for Jenna to dance, she must attach the jingles to her dress, and with the help of her Grandmother, she's able to do that. When the big day arrives, Jenna feels proud to represent these four women and carry on their tradition.
Critical Analysis: Positive messages about Native American people by showing various Native American women in various jobs (ie. Cousin Elizabeth is a Lawyer). Positive images and importance of Native American culture (relationships within the family and community, as neighbours come together to share and help one another). The characters in the story are giving, generous, and supportive. Positive messages and pictures of Native American people bringing in their culture to everyday life.
Submitted By:

Hi There!
My critical analysis is a little different. Because the story i chose is a picture book with minimal wording - I stretched the rules and included images. Because we were asked to put our critical analysis on this page, I created a google document for my critical analysis. I created the google document because this site would not allow me to include the images present in my project. It can be found at THIS link
Stacy Barber

Title: Love You Forever
Author: Robert Munsch
Theme: Healthy Home
Brief Summary: A mother watches her son grow and change, and although some of these changes come to her dismay, she accepts her son at every stage of his life, with open arms, through the intimate moments that she shares with him as his mother.
Critical Analysis: This book fosters the impact that a healthy home can have on its unhealthy individuals, through love and acceptance. Although this book does not contain a dramatic example of an unhealthy individual, it is an appropriate example for the book’s perceived audience. This book does not adhere to a specific family model, although it would appear to express the model of a single-parent family, seemingly breaking away from the traditional nuclear family model that would have been relevant for when this book was published in 1986.
Submitted By: Brittany Sklar

Title: Ruby the Copycat
Author: Peggy Rathmann
Theme: Self confidence and individuality
Critical Analysis (Messages): In this book, the moral of the story was to teach children that they are all unique individuals. However, it does provide the idea that children will be most satisfied only when others show their approval towards the child’s behaviour. Ruby shows no confidence or individuality until she realizes her classmates admire her unique skill. The classroom represented in this book shows little diversity. For example the teacher is a white female, appears to be tall and thin in a pretty dress accompanied by high heels and a sophisticated hair do. When we counted the number of visual minorities seen in the illustrations it only had two children who were visibly different then their classmates. These two children only appeared in seven of the twenty-nine pages.
Submitted By:Preston Dumaine and Elinor Adema

Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Author: Sherman Alexie, Illustrations by Ellen Forney
Theme: Racism; culture; identity; individuality; social relationships (family/friends)
Brief Summary:The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: A heartfelt and humorous coming of age story about a young misfit Spokane Indian named Arnold "Junior" Spirit. As Junior experiences many difficult situations on his reservation (alcohol abuse, death, violence etc), he suddenly decides to go against his tribe and be condemned as a traitor for the chance to grow, experience and discover his own identity beyond the reservation.
Critical Analysis (Messages): The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian offers an array of themes that can be reflected upon. In addition, the novel specifically focuses on Aboriginal culture and is presented from the viewpoint of an Aboriginal adolescent. The novel explores many cultural differences among Aboriginal society in comparison to a more suburban, middle class "white" society. Alexie provides an extremely compelling novel that touches on many concerning issues while achieving a playful and more light-hearted tone through his incorporation of cartoon sketches and humorous dialogue.
Submitted By: Meaghen Da Costa

Title: The Drum Calls Softly
Author: David Bouchard and Shelley Willier
Artist: Jim Poitras
Theme: Cree Culture (importance of dance); Culture/Diversity, Unity
Brief Summary: The story follows a young Cree child and the experiences of traditional lifestyle in his daily life. He is woken up every morning to give thanks to mother earth for all she brings. Kokum (grandma) makes bannock, then they go to the creek. The water speaks to them about how seasons turn, new life and death, and the traditional aboriginal cyclical view of life. That night they dance in circles around the drum, and feel the magic of the Round Dance. They meet with friends who bring handshakes and hugs, stories and laughter. The night comes and the child feels warm and good, as he trusts his Kokum (grandma) and Moosum (grandpa) lead him home. His heart tells him he is different because of the dance and the drum.
Critical Analysis (Messages): In The Drum Calls Softly the pictures in the book speak louder volumes than the actual story about Cree Culture. It includes both English and Cree, and many symbols important to the Cree Culture. The story speaks about the Round Dance and its importance within Cree Culture. Some of the images show how the Cree culture has had to change to adapt to the modern world (ex: a Round Dance happening in a hockey arena), which connects to the implications of treaties in Saskatchewan. The book does not include any bias, gender specifications, or racism, but instead places an emphasis on unity and family.
Submitted By: Nicole Diebel and Aimmee Holland

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Authors: John Green and David Levithan
Theme: Accepting love of all kinds
Brief Summary: The story is told from two separate perspectives of two teenage boys who are both named Will Grayson (for clarity’s sake I’ll refer to one as Will and the other as will). will is in an online relationship with a boy named Issac. When he goes to Chicago to meet him he discovers that Issac does not exist, but it was actually his friend Maura attempting to become closer to him. Will, on the other hand, finds himself alone when his faulty fake ID prevents him from going to a concert with his friends. He tries not to let this get to him by sticking to his mantra of “don’t care too much and shut up”. The two boys stumble upon each other and begin to confide each other’s problems because of the bond created due to them having the same name. Will’s very gay, very proud, and very large friend Tiny Cooper begins a relationship with will and attempts to brighten his negative outlook. Meanwhile, Will struggles to break out of his “don’t care too much attitude” to start a relationship with Tiny’s friend Jane. In the end, both boys discover the importance of love of all kinds (friends, family, and romantic partners) through the musical that Tiny has created.
Critical Analysis: This book takes a realistic approach to both gay and straight teen relationships. Equal emphasis is placed on both of the relationships which enforces the idea that both kinds of relationships are normal ways for people to live. It also places an importance on loving those who are close to you, whether it be your friends, family, or romantic partner. It also focuses on the friendship of Will and Tiny, and how it is possible for a gay and straight male to stay friends and that they can actually be a major area of support for each other.
Submitted by: Laura Shepherd

Title: Mush-hole, Memories of a Residential School
Author: Maddie Harper
Theme: Aboriginal Cultural
Brief Summary: “Mush-Hole”, Memories of a Residential School is a story told about Aboriginal life and culture within a residential school. The story took place in 1914 when the main character was taken from her family to a residential school. After living eight years in the residential school she escaped. After returning to her reserve she felt alienated from her own culture. She later had many internal issues which resulted in her turning to alcohol. When she turned to the church it did not help her, she turned to elders and was re-taught her native lifestyle and began to get her life back on track.
Critical Analysis (Messages): The messages given within this story were that Aboriginal people were forced to hide from their cultures and identities. The Aboriginal culture was not valued by the European people as they wanted to take their identities and form them into being someone else who was created by another individual. The individuals within the residential schools were all very unhealthy people. They were assimilated, abused, not fed properly and were traumatized.
Submitted by: Kerri Kozun & Sarah Mills

Novel: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Author: Khaled Hosseini
Theme: Loss of Innocence. Oppression and Hope. Shame. Pregnancy and Children. Education of Women. Marriage VS. True Love. Female Bonds.
Brief Summary: The story takes place from the perspective of two women during three decades of anti-Soviet jihad. Mariam, the first girl, is illegitimate daughter of a wealthy businessman, who was forced at the age of 15 to marry Rasheed. Rasheed becomes very violent and brutal once Mariam is unable to produce a child. Rasheed takes on a second wife, eighteen years later. The girl he chooses is 14 years old, and her name is Laila. Mariam and Laila become friends, and allies when it came to battling with Rasheed. The author provides importance through the characters actions of fathers, husbands, and giving birth to sons rather than daughters to reach an accepted social status. Each women are forced to choose a path in life that will never be what they had hoped for.
Critical Analysis: Why would I use this in my classroom? I believe it would be a good text to cover because of its shock value and ability to cause inspiration among my students. This novel is based on true events, and I believe students may take this piece of literature very seriously. Students learning about information on the treatment of specific genders and races in a particular location, may have them relate what they have learned to question the treatment of individuals in their community and society. Hosseini’s novel could be closely related to the treatment of First Nation’s people regarding the novels themes of oppression, education of women, and loss of innocence. The novel could also be studied as a part of learning about women’s rights (education, shame, marital roles, female bonds). I believe it is important to teach students texts which will catch their attention and broaden both mindsets and perspectives, in turn helping them become life-long learners.
Submitted By: Sean Hayes

Title: Live it: InclusivenessAuthor: Marina CohenTheme: InclusivenessBrief Summary:
-A grade twelve student with autism made national news after being the basketball teams manager for four years and finally got the opportunity to play in the final four minutes. The student score 6 three pointers and 2 one pointers for a total of 20 points. He showed everyone that people who are different can still do extraordinary things.
-Hayley Wickenheiser, Canada’s women’s hockey team captain for the Olympics was the first women to score a goal in men’s professional hockey.
- Charleston High school seniors class on 2008 attended the school’s first integrated school prom. Before 2008, there was one prom for white students and another for black students.
- Angie Groh- a grade eleven student who taught computer skills to seniors to ensure that everyone could be integrated into the world of technology.
- Oscar Pistorius- an athlete and double amputee. He was the first Paralympic runner allowed to compete internationally alongside abled bodied runners.
Tayna Walters- a bus driver for Los Angeles’ unified school district. She takes teens on life-changing trips. She provides less fortunate students with the opportunity to travel to places that they could otherwise never see.
Critical Analysis (Messages):
- Inclusiveness means being open to others ideas and beliefs. It means accepting those who are different and making them feel welcome. If students are not given the opportunity to show their skills and abilities, people will never see what they can truly accomplish in life. The people in these stories have done this by overcoming many obstacles and surpassed what other people thought and expect of them
submitted by: Ryan James and Chad J

Title: Action Magazine: Heroes and Idols. Literacy in Action Series. Pearson Education Canada. (2009).
Authors: Kathleen Gregory and Sharon Jeroski
Theme: Heroes and Idols
Brief Summary: The Action Magazine: Heroes and Idols is a part of an educational magazine series, with each magazine focusing on a different theme. This particular magazine focuses on various types of heroes and idols, including both real and fictional heroes, in an attempt to help students define what makes a hero and provide positive examples. In this issue students can read articles, cartoons, book reviews, look at images, take quizzes, and answer questions, all related to heroes and idols.
Critical Analysis: The Heroes and Idols: Action Magazine and the entire Literacy in Action series provides teachers with a relevant medium to teach curriculum literacy concepts. The magazine features vary in length, reading level and design and therefore appeals to a variety of learning styles and abilities. The theme of heroes and idols is a potentially engaging theme for students and the various features prompt interest and inquiry learning. This magazine allows teachers to apply instructional approaches that are best suited to their students learning needs such as shared, guided, and independent reading. This magazine could be used to make relevant connections to heroes in the student’s community.
Summited by: Sarah Benning

Title: Walter the Farting Dog
Author: William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray
Theme: Self Confidence, Family Importance
Brief Summary: Walter the dog is adopted by a brother and sister who take him home, but Walter has a problem. Gas. His farts are smelly. Mom and Dad do not like how bad Walter smells. Walter is told that if his farts do not stop, Dad will take him back to the adoption center. Walter vows to hold in his farts. But when burglars break into the house, Walter’s held in farts get the better of him. He farts and because he was holding them in, the smell is unbearable and causes the burglars to leave who are later caught by police. The family appreciates what Walter did for them and agrees to love him despite his farts.
Critical Analysis: This story shows students that although everyone has something about themselves they do not like or things that others may not like, they can make good out of it. Walter the Farting Dog proves that family and friends can always make one feel better about themselves. It is easier to be confident about yourself when your family allows you to be who you are and does not judge you. This story also shows that you shouldn’t judge people despite their differences. Everyone is unique and deserves to be recognized for that uniqueness.
Submitted By: Kaitlyn Geis
PS: I feel like a silly little kid compared to everyone else's books! But trust me, you too will fall in LOVE with Walter.

Title: Fight For Justice
Author: Lori Saigeon
Theme: Bullying, Peer Pressure and Gangs
Brief Summary: A ten-year-old boy named Justice and his twin sister Charity are victims of a gang of bullies. Initially, the twins keep the identity of the bully hidden from adults, as they fear the bully will come after them. After the bully physically abuses the twins, they decide to tell their mom. They are relieved to discover the bullying stops.
Critical Analysis: I would use this in my classroom because of the novels focus on bullying. It shows the way bully
ing occurs, how it affects the child being bullied and how the child should respond. This novel may help students recognize the signs of bulling and equip them with the knowledge on how to stop it, as it proves children have the ability to stop bullying.
There are a few biases is the novel. The twins are First Nation therefore the author’s attitude comes across as being racist, that bullies pick on First Nation people. The bullies portrayed in the novel are described as being more tough and bigger than the children being bullied. The bias present in this is that all bullies are more tough and bigger than the children they are bullying.
Submitted by: Stephanie Schell.

Title: The Story of Ferdinand
Author: Munro Leaf
Theme: Peer Pressure
Brief Summary: “The Story of Ferdinand” is a children’s book that displays peer pressure. It is a story is about a bull named Ferdinand who was not interested in running and butting heads like the other bulls. He was a lot happier being by himself and smelling flowers by his favourite cork tree. Ferdinand grew up to be a big muscular bull but still enjoyed smelling the flowers. He was selected out of all the bulls by five men to fight the Madrid. Ferdinand was hauled to the ring where he was expected to fight the Madrid himself. All the men taunted Ferdinand and tried forcing him to fight the Madrid, but he was not interested. He was only interested in smelling flowers. Ferdinand was then sent home where he could smell flowers all day long and be happy as could be.
Critical Analysis (Messages): The “Story of Ferdinand” is a great story to displays the importance of being true to oneself and standing up against peer pressure. It displays the pressure that individuals may face when they do not fit in the norm. As Ferdinand is a large and strong bull, he was expected to be a fighting machine against the Madrid. Even when Ferdinand refused to fight, the others around him tried to influence his actions and force him to fight with the use of threats etc. Ferdinand refused to give into the pressure around him which displays a positive message to children about being true to themselves. Children must accept and be confident of who they are and not behave in a way that everyone else believes they should. Ferdinand’s story displays that we should never be ashamed of who we are, even if others do not approve of it.
Submitted By: Bryanne Bourgonje

Title: Beyond Bruises - The Truth About Teens and Abuse
Author: Sherri Mabry Gordon
Theme: Abuse in families; the affects of this abuse
Brief Summary: This is a non-fiction book with an abundance of information about abuse. It initially starts by stating definitions of physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse and emotional abuse. It also talks about other types of abuse/violence such as neglect, bullying, stalking as well as exploitation and trafficking. The book then proceeds to describe and analyze reasons for abuse by questioning "why does it happen?" There is then a very detailed description as to where abuse occurs, whether that is in the home (with reference made to child abuse) or outside of the home (with reference made to relationships, cyber bullying and schoolyard stress). The book proceeds to talk about the effects of abuse on teens and how it impacts their entire lives whether this comes in the form of drugs, eating disorders or teen pregnancy as well as others. To further the effects that abuse has on people, the book examines how it impacts a community. To conclude, there is a section about stopping abuse by helping both the abused and the abuser.
Critical Analysis: This book is thorough with an abundance of factual information that is clear and concise. There are simple, yet complete definitions as well as examples to clarify what is being talked about. The book is also filled with real stories from real people to help convey the messages. this is extremely beneficial and can help one to understand the meaning of a particular piece of reading. There are many positive messages in the book from people who have been abused and have moved on, spoken out and work to create an awareness about abuse and violence. The completeness of the book is something that can be admired as it begins by recognizing the causes of abuse and proceeds all the way through to analyzing the ways to recover from violence.
Submitted By: Lindsay Greve

Title: Multicultural Games
Author: Lorraine Barbarash
Theme: 75 games from 43 cultures.
Brief Summary: Multicultural Games, provides ideas and strategies that will help students develop awareness and appreciation for other cultures while enjoying physical activity.
Critical Analysis (Messages): This book provides teachers with an easy to read and easy to follow approach incorporating multiculturalism into your classroom. Lorraine Barbarash presents every activity as “cookbook” (how to) approach. It breaks each activity into the following categories; origin, number of participants, age gross motor rating, competition level, area and equipment. This book also provides illustrations that accompany each activity to help in the organization and planning. Through out the book, Barbarash, also provides adaptations to the activities to make them more appropriate for all levels and ability. This book is definitely a great resource.
Submitted By: Scott Brochu

Title: Shopping Spree
Author: Arthur Dobrin, Illustrations by Jacqueline Rogers
Theme: Diversity among Friends
Brief Summary: Bubba and Ulu are two feline cats that share in a story of the diversity that can occur between friends. Ulu is a spontaneous, worry free cat, where Bubba is an organized simple cat. One day the two friends decide to go shopping together. Ulu goes all out buying the most random colourful clothes she can find and decides to dye her hair green. Bubba sticks to his simple style and only buys a blue hat. Neither of the friends judges the other on their clothing choices even though they are clearly very different. It shows how they can still accept one another and respect each other even though they have different tastes and wishes.
Critical Analysis (Messages): How could I use this in my classroom? I would use this story to teach my students that diversity is not a bad thing. It doesn’t matter if you are different because of your skin color, religion, or what you wear. Ulu and Bubba are best of friends even though they are two different cats. Even though this book does not teach of diversity based on skin color or religion it teaches the attended audience that being different is ok. It teaches that people who may be diversely different from each other can still be the best of friends.
Submitted By: Teaghan Cleveland

Title: The Lorax
Author: Dr. Suess
Theme: Environmental Issues
Brief Summary: The story begins with a boy wondering what that Lorax was, why it was here, and why it is now gone. He hears that the old Once-ler knows, and pays the fee to hear his story. The Once-ler tells the boy that when he came to the land, there was many Truffula Trees and lots of wildlife. The Once-ler uses the trees to make “Thneeds,” which can be used for almost anything. The Once-ler then starts a very profitable business. However, the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, confronts the Once-ler about cutting down all of the surrounding trees. Eventually the Lorax must send all of the wildlife away, as the land they called home is no longer inhabitable. After the Once-ler cuts down the Truffula tree, he realizes what he has done. The Lorax then leaves the land along with the last of the wildlife. The Once-ler tells the boy that the land won’t get better unless someone that really cares comes along. The Once-ler then gives the boy the last Truffula tree seed, hoping that he will regrow the forest. For only then, may the Lorax and the wildlife return.
Critical Analysis (Messages): The Lorax is a great story to tell to students of any age. It presents many issues that industry can have on the environment. It teaches students that they shouldn't be like the Once-ler, who regrets his decision to value business over the environment. It gives great examples of different environmental issues such as deforestation, air pollution, and water pollution. It also gives kids the opportunity to discuss their feelings on the environment, and what they think should be done.
Submitted By: Jesse Searcy

Title: How Parliament Works
Author: John Bejermi
Theme: Canadian Parliament, Government process
Brief Summary:
This is an informative book about the Canadian government and parliament processes. It goes through the making and importance of the constitution as well as the roles of the Governor General of Canada, the Senate, the House of Commons, the Prime Minister, the Official Opposition and the other proceedings of the Canadian Government. The book goes through the daily proceedings for each position and how bills become laws in Canada.
Critical Analysis:
This is the seventh edition of the How Parliament Works hand book by John Bejermi and was published in 2010. This book provides social studies teachers and others interested in the how the Canadian parliament operates with a resource that covers all of the aspects of the parliamentary processes including how representatives are elected all the way to how laws are passed. All of the positions of parliament are included and their roles are explained in detail by the author John Bejermi. As well this resource has illustrations of both past representatives, present representatives and the arrangement of the house when parliament is in session. The book provides us with both interesting and reliable content about Canada’s parliament assembly and how Canada is governed. This book would be a valuable resource for the Social Studies 30: Canadian Studies curriculum for the governance unit.
Submitted By: Brett Kannenberg

Title: 3,096 DAYS
Author: Natascha Kampusch
Theme: True Story/True Crime
Brief Summary: In March of 1998 Natascha was abducted on the streets of Vienna by someone and forced into a white van. Throughout 3,096 DAYS she tells her herring story for the first time. The story ranges form her difficult childhood, what exactly happened during her long imprisonment in a 5-square-metre dungeon, and the physical and mental abuse she suffered. This story is ultimately a story of the triumph of human spirit; and describes how, in a situation of utter hopelessness, she learned to manipulate her captor, as well as, managing to except with her spirit intact.
Critical Analysis (Messages): This story tells vividly about how Natascha was kidnapped, and abused in the most horrific ways over 3,096 days of her life. The physical abuse that she is placed under ranges from beatings to being wiped, and etc. The mental abuse is mainly verbal abuse that Natascha is forced to hear. It also discusses the battle with anorexia that she has throughout her capture. Also there is the factor that Natascha could have escaped but never did due to her believing that her capture was the only reliable source of comfort and being that could support her. There are however some brighter parts of the story. One such factor is her ability to never be the type of person who is willing to go down without a fight. Natascha believed so strongly that she would eventually get out that she pushed herself to get out of the house. Another bright spot is when she is welcomed back into her family and her community. The most important factor that aided in Natascha’s recovery was her being able to tell her side of the story to anyone who would listen.
Submitted By: Josh Krentz

Title: One Day A Stranger Came
Author: Naomi Wakan
Theme: Friends sticking together and not letting negative influences keep them apart
Brief Summary: Three friends have farms that are real close together and even share some land and the water in the brook. All three families are close friends and everyone, including their kids cheerfully work together throughout the year to help each other with all the farming and upkeep of all their land. They celebrate special occasions together and happily see each other almost every day. One day a man from the government comes by and tells the three friends that each farmland is part of different countries and that they were at war and needed to build a fence for their own land. The friends were so close they forgot they were from different countries, and although they do not want to put up fences that would separate them, they listen to the man and do so. The man also says that since they are from different countries they will have different education and home school their own kids. The separation creates a large gap between the friends and they slowly, but surely drift apart and become less close. One day, one of the children was fed up with the separation and losing friends, and cried out to all the families that the fence and education should not be a barrier for the friends. Everyone soon realized she was right and that they would be more happy to be friends again and work together with one another. They still followed the rules of the government, but still managed to stay friends.
Critical Analysis (Messages):
This is great book that demonstrates how friends can, and should, stick together, even if there is some adversity that they face. The families have worked and lived together for generations and are such close friends that they forget to even acknowledge that they are from different countries. There are no strong differences that stick between the families; but there are many similarities and helpful tendencies that each family possesses. The children even state that when they learn, they help each other out and it makes the experience better for them. When the government tells them they have to fence off and use their own land, they become unhappy and are not enthusiastic with the idea. They allow the separation to interfere with their friendship and things are not as good as they were before. It takes one of the kids to see that this is terribly wrong and to stand up and announce it to everyone. This shows that even young kids can have a voice and know the true importance of friendship. The fences are still up but the friends do not allow the separation to interfere anymore because they know their friendship is strong and that they can overcome the challenges of what they have to face.
Submitted by: Julius Landry

Title: The Last Lecture
Author: Randy Pausch
Theme: What a person would want the world to know about them if they knew they were going to die tomorrow.
Brief Summary: The book is about Randy Pausch and his chronic battle with pancreatic cancer. In the book Pausch shares how having the disease has allowed him to seize each and every moment he has. It also allowed him to critically reflect on his life his achievements, failures, experiences, and what motivated him in life. This book also critically examines the impact of Pausch’s disease on his family and friends who are aware he will soon die. As well, Pausch talks about the sadness that he faces from knowing he will never be able to see his children grow into adults and having to leave his wife behind to raise his children alone. In this lecture he shares life stories and experiences that are reminiscent of an Aboriginal Elder sharing their experiences with the younger generations.
Critical Analysis: Pausch shows a different way of addressing an illness that is going to claim his life. His focus is on the positive accomplishments he has made during his life. He demonstrates that a person can have a fulfilling and happy life while battling a chronic disease. The book does talk of the emotional stress that Pausch’s disease has put on his family and friends who are having difficulty accepting his imminent death. The only downside of this book as a teaching tool is that students may not understand why he chooses to address his last days in such a positive way. It only shows one way that a person may deal with having a chronic disease and does not present any Aboriginal content to the reader. Also at the time of this writing Pausch was still in good health even though he was dying, not everyone with a chronic disease has that luxury. Having this time in which he still felt healthy allowed him over the time to help himself, his friends and his family come to terms with his impending fate.
Submitted: Matthew Maertens

Author: Marilyn Reynolds
Title: The New Land: A First Year on the Prairie
Theme: The value of perseverance in the attempt to achieving one’s wants and needs.
Brief Summary: The Lloyd family which was composed of a father, a mother and two children named John and Annie decided to leave their home in Europe to start a new life in Canada during the time of the year when their apple trees bloomed. Upon reaching a small town on the Canadian prairies after traveling by ship and by train, the father purchased all of the necessary supplies required to survive on the prairies. From there the family travelled to their land plot by ox cart and began to build a home for themselves. Before long a well was dug and the land was broken in order to provide the family with sustenance. In addition to this, a sod hut was constructed to provide the family with shelter. After the winter had passed and spring had begun to come about, the family planted apple trees which would bloom in the same way that their apple trees in the old country had bloomed.
Critical Analysis: Through hard work and perseverance one can receive that which satisfies his or her wants and needs even in adverse conditions. Marilyn attempts to demonstrate the mindset and lifestyle settlers coming to Canada had to adapt too as well as their struggles to sustain a healthy lifestyle. She captures the mindset of settlers very well.
Submitted by: Mitch Singleton, Brett Bolduc

- “I Love You Like Crazy Cakes” and “And Tango Makes Three”
- By Rose Lewis, Illustrated By Jane Dyer
- By Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, Illustrated by Henry Cole
- International adoption, Different kinds of families, Loving families, Family diversity, Wanting a baby
Brief Summary:
A woman realizes she is missing something in her life so she goes through the process to adopt a baby girl from China. This baby was also missing something in her life, a mother.
Two male penguins, Roy and Silo do all the things the other penguins do, except neither are attracted to female penguins. They are partners and see the other penguin pairs lay eggs, hatch them and grow into families. They try to do the same but can’t so the zoo keeper gives Roy and Silo an egg of their own to hatch because another penguin pair had layed two. Together, Roy and Silo hatch and raise a healthy female chick named Tango and become their own kind of loving, happy family.
Critical Analysis:
These books both demonstrate that happy, safe, nurturing, loving families come in many different forms. I believe it is important for students to realize that their classmates might have two dads, or two moms, or they may have been adopted, or their parents might be divorced, etcetera and that’s okay. Family is the people that love and support you, not necessarily those who are related by blood. I think that both of these stories can be relatable to students in a classroom.
Submitted By:
Carlie Deneiko

Title: Bully
Author: Judith Caseley
Theme: Bullying
Brief Summary: When Mickey's best friend, Jack, changes from a friend to a bully, it makes life very uncomfortable for Mickey. Mickey tells his family that he is being bullied by his former friend Jack and seeks guidance from each of them. His mom, dad and sister all give Mickey different tips that could help repair his friendship with Jack. Throughout the book, Jack continues to bully Mickey but soon gets a taste of his own medicine. One day when Jack spoke in front of the class he revealed his new blue braces. The other students in the class started calling Jack mean names and teased him for having braces. After class Mickey found himself walking down the hallway with Jack and telling him he likes the color of his braces. Even after Jack had been so mean, Mickey helped him out by complimenting his "new look". The two boys resolve their differences from bully and victim to best friends.
Critical Analysis (Messages): This book addresses bullying, which is becoming a big issue in schools. There are many different ways to address bullying within a classroom (ex. Internet, books, movies, etc.) It is important to teach students about the harmful affects of bullying and how it can happen to anyone, even between friends such as Mickey and Jack. This book serves as an example of what can happen in a real life situation. It shows that there are also different kinds of bullying including physical and emotional. When all was said and done, they both felt the effects of bullying and learned that they should treat people the way they would like to be treated which is one of the main messages of this story.
Submitted by:Amanda Foraie & Talita Wilson

Title: The Lorax
Author: Theodore Seuss Greisel A.K.A Dr. Seuss
Theme: Consumerism and eco-justice
Brief Summary: The Lorax is a classic children’s book by Dr. Seuss, full of ridiculous names and ultra creative illustrations. This book may appear to be only for children, but don’t be fooled by this clever guise. The Lorax is aimed at all ages and is a cleverly written call to activism, consumer awareness and eco-justice.
Critical Analysis (Messages): The Lorax was originally published in 1971 and is as relevant today as it was the day it was released. Greisel, better known as Dr.Seuss, is infamous for his creativity and brilliant strategy of addressing real-life issues in his unreal, almost psychedelic stories. This strategy allows the reader to critically reflect on the logic behind the events discussed in his books, and The Lorax is no exception. The Lorax focuses on issues of corporate greed, consumerism and environmental injustice but ends with the delightful prospect that one can make a difference. Greisel may be criticized for his lack of female representation in this book but one must consider that historically, at the time The Lorax was published, most positions of influence where held by men. Overall this is an amazing book that students of all ages will appreciate for its nostalgic value and thought-provoking message.
Submitted by: Nate Polsfut

Title: Say Something

Author: Peggy Moss

Illustrator: Lea Lyon

Theme: Bullying; Witnesses of Bullying

Brief Summary: A young girl discusses the different types of bullying she witnesses at school. Because she does not join in, she feels that she is doing the right thing. After being bullied herself, she gets upset with the kids who did nothing to stop it. Following a discussion with her older brother, she realizes that she has been the person doing nothing. The next day on the bus, she sits with a girl who normally gets bullied for sitting alone.

Critical Analysis (Messages): Say Something discusses bullying and the role witnesses play in bullying. It displays that bullying can be verbal, physical and emotional. Diversity is represented in the illustrations, showing that anyone can be a bully or a victim. Say Something gets across the message that witnessing, but not stopping bullying can be just as hurtful as the bullying itself. However, this message is only overtly displayed in the last page and may be hard for kids to grasp without explanation.

Submitted by: Nicole Roeher

Title: Going PlacesAuthor: Fran Hurcomb
Theme: Identity, Building a Community
Brief Summary:
A group of twelve-year-old girls have been playing on an all boys hockey team since they were seven want to create an all girls hockey team within their community. The girls want to create this team to show their skills and create their own identity as female hockey players and grow to be a player as good as Haley Wickenheiser.
Critical Analysis (Messages):
This novel is a great novel to teach in a Canadian classroom because most every child in Canada either plays or watches hockey sometime during their life so therefore they can relate to this novel. This novel does a good job reaching out to female hockey players and teaches them about perseverance and they cannot give up if they really want to be seen as hockey players. This novel in general can speak to anybody about identity and the importance of working together as a community to get achieve something great.
Submitted by: Jenna Vertefeuille


Title: My Name is Yoon

Author: Helen Recorvits

Illustrator: Gabi Swiatkowska

Theme: Immigration

Brief Summary: This children’s book is about a young girl who moves from Korea to the United States. Her journey begins with uncertainty in her name, and she decides she does not want to be Yoon. Instead she wants to be called other names, like Cat and Cupcake. It is an inspiring story of Yoon’s journey to find herself in a strange foreign country.

Critical Analysis (Messages):This book teaches students to be proud of who they are and where they come from. It teaches the process of a Korean girl moving to the United States and she doesn’t like the transition of her name. Throughout the story the little girl chooses many different names that she wants to be called until one day she realizes that her name is pretty, and that it represents her. The story teaches the students to be proud of who they are and where they come from. Differences should be celebrated and embraced, not hidden.

Submitted by: Melissa Wiebe

Title: The OutsidersAuthor: Hinton, S.E.
Theme: Socio-economical status, loyalty, and fitting in. (Exploring loyalty, love and relationships)
Brief Summary: The story is about a fourteen year old boy named Ponyboy, whose loyalty lies to his family and to his gang, a lower socio-economic group called the greasers. This group is always in conflict with a higher-status group called the socs (socials). Despite the differences between the groups, Ponyboy discovers that the two gangs have similarities.
Critical Analysis: This book is great for students to come to a greater understanding about the different socio-economic groups, and how they are in conflict with one another. In schools, it is important as a teacher to help students empathize with different types of people, to understand their own privileges and/or disadvantages, and to educate students how to deal with conflict. The book gives opportunity for students to be challenged on how they can overcome different socio-economic stereotypes (such as evaluating their own groups of friends and identifying cliques in their own school) as well. There is plenty of opportunity to hold discussions and critically analyze loyalty, love, and relationships, by examining Ponyboy and his interactions. Since Ponyboy leads a very dangerous and unpredictable lifestyle, students will be exposed to the dangers of street-life and of entering a gang. Peer-pressure and bullying are topics that could also be discussed in light of the novel. All in all, The Outsiders is a great novel to allow students to discuss issues of socio-economic status, loyalty, peer pressure, and to examine how these issues affect their own lives.
Sumbitted by: Joni Thue and Tiffany McCrea

Title: Bully
Author: Judith Caseley
Theme: Bullying
Brief Summary: Mickey and Jack were once best friends, but Jack soon changes from a friend to a bully. Jack becomes hurtful through his words and actions because he is receiving less attention at home ever since his mom had a baby. Jack makes life very intolerable for Mickey, causing Mickey to seek advice from his family about the situation. Mickey’s parents have some helpful ideas, but Mickey finds it easier to talk about being kind to Jack rather then actually doing it. In the end, Mickey uses his own problem solving technique through humour, allowing Mickey and Jack to become friends again.
Critical Analysis (Messages): “Bully” reveals helpful insights to the reality of kids having to deal with the issues of bullying. It not only shows the emotional and physical pain that the victim experiences, but it also shows examples of why someone might bully, displayed through Jack’s desire to receive attention again. The book does a good job at suggesting different ways to react to these kinds of situations, and the importance of talking to an adult about what is going on. It is also helpful that it shows how Mickey successfully came up with his own solution to the problem. However, the books should have Jack, the bully, apologise for his behaviour in the end because he was hurtful towards Mickey.
Submitted by: Amanda Brace and Lindsay Shaw

Title: Into The Wild
Author: Jon Krakauer
Theme: Identity and sense of self, Joy and Inspiration
Brief Summary: Into The Wild is a non-fiction novel that is a true story of a boy named Alex McCandless. This highly achieving/successful student donates $24,000 savings to charity, abandoning his car and ventures into the wilderness with no money and a handful of supplies without telling a soul. The journey begins in Atlanta and ends in Alaska, where Alex wanted to end off. Through Alex’s relationships with people he meets, experiences and knowledge of books he learns to become self reliant of for basic needs of survival. After the author gathered research, traveled far distances, help from those who encountered Alex and the journal found a book was written. This is a journey of how one man peruses true meaning for life.
Critical Analysis (Messages): There are several ways in which this novel could apply to subject areas within a classroom. The main character throws away everything to pursue happiness and joy in life. The novel narrates one journey to find identity and sense of self. In the novel Alex challenges himself to try new things in order to find who he is; this could be applied to our own lives and the lives of our students, This book is an example of how one individual choose to deal with their identity. In terms of joy and inspiration, Alex thought differently than most of society. Here students can be challenged to think critically about their own joy and have them question what it means to be happy in their own mind; and also in the eyes of society.
Submitted By: Tyler Perkins and Dan Smith

Title: “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Author: Harper Lee
Theme: childhood, innocence, coming-of-age, racism, classism
Brief Summary: the story follows three years of the lives of Scout Finch and her brother, Jem. Set during The Great Depression, the story is narrated by Scout and tells of her and Jem’s experiences with racism, justice, childhood, and growing up.
Critical Analysis: To Kill a Mockingbird is a book that confronts racism, published during a time when racism was the main focus of society. Published in 1960, just as the Civil Rights Movement was picking up speed, To Kill a Mockingbird deals with racism at its most unjust, during a time when civil rights were something that people only dreamed of. Told through the eyes of a child, we see how grown-up/adult issues are viewed from a child’s perspective. We also see how exposure to issues like racism and classism affect how Scout views the world around her.
Submitted by: Kerri Doidge

Title: Exercise and Your Health

Author: Jillian Powell

Theme: Exercise and its effects on health

Brief Summary:

The book is a guide for children to understand the value of exercise relating to their health. It overviews the value of muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility in a variety of ways. This is done in language which is easy to read for children. Value is given to healthy eating, proper warm-ups, joint health and safety. The book finishes by discussing some exercises that can be done as well as how to create a personal fitness plan.

Critical Analysis (Messages):

Exercise and your Health was published in 1998. This resource does a good job of outlining a potentially complicated topic to students in a basic manner. The book lays a good foundation to allow children to begin learning more about being healthy and physically active. Children different backgrounds as well as with diverse needs are all represented in this book. No groups are marginalized or discriminated against based upon my analysis of this resource.
Submitted By: Alan Harvey

Title: Maybe Days

Author: Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright Illustrated by Alissa Imre Geis

Theme: Caring Foster Families

Brief Summary: The book is about foster care. It explains about how children need an adult to take care of them, but sometimes that adult cannot be their parents, and is instead a foster parent. It talks about some of the reasons why children cannot stay with their parents. Then the book addresses feelings that the children might be dealing with, and some of the changes they might be facing. The book talks about the different adults that might be involved with them like a social worker, police officer, judge, lawyer, and therapist. The book stresses that the kid’s job through all of it is to be a kid.

Critical Analysis (Messages): The book promotes foster care as a safe and happy place where children can be until they are able to go back their families. It acknowledges how their own families can be very different from their foster families, but does not address whether or not their culture will be respected and appreciated. The illustrations acknowledge diversity in the multitude of visible races portrayed both as the foster parents and the foster children. However the book only portrays a few foster dads, while portraying several foster moms throughout. These foster moms are shown doing the more caring actions, which could also be gender stereotyping.

Submitted by: Jeanette Brodner

Title: Hate Crimes
Author: Paul A. Winters
Theme: Social controversies (Race, Religion, National Origin and Sexual Orientation)
Brief Summary: Winters book takes an in depth look at the serious issue of hate crimes through the views of people who believe it is a punishable offense and people who believe that it is their right to freedom of speech. Throughout the book there are stories from each party about why people of minority are experiencing violence, the effect of hate speech and how it should and should not be limited as well as the penalties that should or should not be handed out to people who engage in hate crimes. There is also insight into to the groups who are responsible for hate crimes and why they are acting this way.
Critical Analysis (Messages): “Hate Crimes” is a great resource for opening student’s eyes to the realities of hate crimes and hate speech in the world around them. One of the great values in this book is that it does not portray one side of the story and leave out the other. If a student were to read this they would be able to understand the seriousness of committing a hate crime, but they would also be exposed to the views of the people who believe it is their right to speak as they wish. It is clearly indicated in this book that even if it is a person’s right to freedom of speech, it is not their right to act in violence against another group of people. With today’s society becoming increasingly diverse I believe that this is not only a useful resource for teachers, but a necessary one due to the fact that it addresses issues which will help our society grow together rather than grow apart. This resource is a great way for teachers to become proactive with their students when it comes to having their students becoming more acceptant of people with different races, religion, origin and sexual orientation.
Submitted by: Rhett Reeve

Title: Say Something

Author: By Peggy Moss Illustrated by Lea Lyon

Theme: Bullying

Brief Summary: This story is about a girl who notices some kids at her school that get bullied. She witnesses what the bullies do to the kids and sees that it is wrong, yet she does not stand up and “say something” to make the bullies stop and feels sorry for the kids that got bullied.She in turn gets bullied, and just wants to disappear. She sees that her other classmates are looking at her and feel sorry for her, yet they do not say anything to comfort her or stand up to the bullies. The next day she sits beside one of the girl’s that got bullied and find that she’s not different at all and is quite funny.

Critical Analysis (Messages): Say Something shows from the perspective of the bystander who witnesses other classmates being bullied. The bystander knows that what the bullies are doing is wrong, yet she does not jump in and help the “victim”. The character gets bullied and sees how mean it is and how no one stood up for her. This books helps students see that anyone can get bullied and how important it is to stand up to make the bully(ies) stop.

Submitted by: Kalene Scott

Title: My Name is gabito by Monica Brown

Theme: Creative Writing/Imagination and Biographies
Summary: This tells the story of author Gabriel Garcia Marquez – it talks about his childhood and the impact that his imagination had on his life and how he became the author that he is today. It has prompts for students to think about (can you imagine…?) and to inspire their own story telling. It is a bilingual story with both English and Spanish; this appeals to more students and emphasizes the importance of language and culture in one’s identity. At the end of the book, there is a brief biography to tell the reader more about Gabriel Marquez.
Critical Analysis:

- This book inspires wonder and awe
- It tells a biographical story about a real author
- Very descriptive, colourful illustrations
- Gabito has a large, unorthodox family; he spends a lot of time with his grandfather
- Presents imagination as a positive thing that you can find success in
  • Creating worlds where anything is possible
- This book contains multiple languages (English and Spanish) and emphasises the importance of language in identity
- Describes Columbia as a place covered in “thick jungles”, this is stereotypical of Spanish speaking countries
- Gabito has a big family, which is also a negative stereotype associated with Spanish families
- Describes the workers at the fruit plantation as people who work so hard and are so poor
  • In the illustrations the labourers have darker skin than Gabito and his grandfather
- All of the grown men in this book have mustaches, which is stereotypical of Spanish men
- Gabito has light skin and appears to be more Caucasian than Spanish
Submitted By: Codie Lessard and Jenni Senger

Title: Footprint Calculator (

Author: Global Footprint Network

Theme: Evnironment; your impact on our soceity

Brief Summary:

Footprint Calculator: an online interactive quiz that allows you to calculate how big of an impact you have on the environment, also known as you’re ecological footprint. There are two different quizes, one for adults and one for children. The best choice is the Kids Quiz – Basic Version because it is detailed, yet short enough to do in the classroom.

Critical Analysis (Messages):

The Global Footprint Network is a huge supporter of the improvement of the environment movement. Thus, there are a lot of messages on this website about the environment intentionally promoting the need for its improvement. As stated in the brief summary, the site is a quiz to see how much you impact the environment, and when you finish the quiz, you are given your ecological footprint and compare it to the average of your city and country. The quiz also provides, at the end, information on how to lower your footprint. Again, these are both intended messages to improve the environment. However, the Global Footprint Network also has some messages that I believe are unintentional, yet they are present. For example, the pictures in the quiz imply a modest neighbourhood, thus suggesting everyone lives in an “identical” society.

When we are teaching for social justice, most of the time we are focussed on teaching how to accept people and how everyone has the right to equality. The Global Footprint Network’s website is one way we can teach against social norms and start a new shift to improve the lives of all human beings. This website allows a teacher to show their students that what they do everyday does not impact just them, but the whole world and everything in it. Thus, we can show how in the world, mother Nature does not care who we are and where we are from, she will impact anywhere and everywhere, and therefore, we are all equal. Mother Nature, being one of the world’s deadliest forces, can be a great way of justifying the need for social justice.

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Theme: Prejudice & Racism

Brief Summary: To Kill a Mockingbird is based in Alabama during the Depression. The book is viewed through the eyes of Scout an innocent elementary school girl. Over the course of the summer Scout and her brother Gem investigate the Radley’s and the myths surrounding the family and their residence. Eventually Atticus, father of Scout, defends a black man known as Tom Robinson, who was alleged to have raped a white woman of low social status. The plot thickens as the children decipher events relating to Radleys and racism as their father becomes a social pariah for defending an innocent black man against a white prejudicial judicial system.

Critical Analysis:
To Kill a Mockingbird investigates the concept of prejudices and how they affect society. It examines that prejudices are not simply racially motivated but include wealth, education and more. Additionally, Harper Lee illustrates an important concept through the innocence of Scout’s eyes, that stereotypes are learned from family, school and society in general and not instinctual.

Kandace Little & Justin Aitken

Title: “All Alone After School”
Author: Muriel Stanek
- Learning to be responsible for yourself, and taking care of yourself when placed in situations where you are alone.
- Following directions and learning how to be responsible.
- Overcoming fear of being alone, growing up.
Brief Summary:
Andy’s mom got a new job away from home and cannot afford a babysitter, so she will not be home after school. Since there would be no one there to look after him, he would have to take care of himself. It would be his first time alone, and he was worried. His mother went through what he would need to do, and gave him his very first key. She made sure that their neighbor would be home (in case Andy needed anything) and left a list of important phone numbers right by the phone. He successfully handled staying alone, and any obstacles that happened when he was alone. His mother is proud of him, and he overcomes his fear of being alone.
Critical Analysis:
This book promotes responsibility and safety while being alone. It sends the message that being alone does not have to be scary and if someone is aware of personal safety measures it will keep them secure. It also sends the message that following directions can lead to safety and responsibility, as Andy successfully stayed home alone by following his mother’s rules and directions. There is also the message of being a role model, as Andy taught a classmate to not be afraid students can use their understanding to teach siblings or classmates as well. As a teacher I would be able to use this story to teach about personal responsibility and promote safety in situations.

Hope Rudiak

Title: Hamlet

Author: William Shakespeare

Theme: The Search for Self

Brief Summary: The main heroine, Prince Hamlet, mourns over two things, the death of his late father and the hasty marriage of his mother, Queen Gertrude, to Claudius. The ghost of King Hamlet appears to Hamlet and informs him of how he was poisoned by Claudius. Hamlet swears revenge. Hamlet accidentally kills the eavesdropping Polonius, the court chamberlain. Polonius’ son Laertes returns to Denmark and swears revenge on Hamlet. Meanwhile, Polonius’ daughter Ophelia falls in love with Prince Hamlet but his actions, along with Polonius’ death, drives her mad. In Ophelia’s madness, she dies in a suspiciously suicidal drowning incident. News of Ophelia’s death fuels Laertes’ conviction to kill Hamlet. Claudius, feeling threatened by Hamlet, plans to poison Hamlet during a duel between Laertes and Hamlet. The duel results in the death of Gertrude, Laertes, Claudius, and Hamlet.

Critical Analysis (Messages): “Hamlet” has many themes such as loyalty, gender inequities, deception, revenge, family, suicide, coming of age, revenge, death, etc. It would be impossible to analyze all of these themes so the search for self/identity shall be the focus. Hamlet’s so called, “antic disposition” could arise from a great many sources. It could spring from his father’s death which was only two months prior, the pressure to kill Claudius, his mother’s hasty marriage to his uncle Claudius, and his interactions with Ophelia. With so many different influences at play, Hamlet is thrown for an emotional rollercoaster as he tries to grasp who he really is. He is torn between doing what he wants and performing his duties as the rightful heir of Denmark. The complexities revolving around Hamlet, while quite bizarre, are parallel to the fact that each student in school faces struggles in their search for identity. It would be beneficial to stress this parallel so that the required text of Hamlet is relatable to students.

Submitted by: Stephanie Possberg

Title: The Chrysalids

Author: John Wyndham

Theme: Discrimination and “Othering”

Brief Summary: The Chrysalids is a book that takes place in a post apocalyptic world, and the setting resembles that of an old pilgrim town. The apocalypse that overtook the world is alluded to being a nuclear war, as much of Canada is described as being black, barren, and uninhabitable. The portion of Canada that is liveable is the Labrador area, and it is run by a Christian community who believe that deviation from God’s image is what caused the apocalypse. This creates a problem for a group of young telepaths in this community, as their ability to communicate via the mind is deemed as “abnormal” and they find themselves against friends and family.

Critical Analysis (Messages): One of the main themes over the course of this story is discrimination. It is an excellent reflection upon us as a society as it makes us think about times that any group of people were discriminated against, often to the point of physical violence, and sometimes death. The concept of othering is also brought into the picture. If people do not fit into the proper “vision” of a human, they are not human. That is the belief of the community in this book. It is a very extreme example, but a very good one for giving an example of how those of a different sexual orientation are othered, or how people of a different skin colour are othered.

Submitted by: Wesley de Leeuw

Title: A Time For Toys
Author: Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas
Theme: Gratefulness and caring for others
Brief Summary: This story is about mothers and children who were in a concentration camp. Everyone was malnourished and sick, many of the children didn’t know what life was like before the holocaust. The mothers know that they will be liberated soon and start planning a celebration for when they are freed, they make toys for the children out of rags, buttons and scraps of clothing and have a big feast. Since the children were deprived of play and any sort of fun activities, they are overjoyed to receive the toys, it symbolizes their freedom and their new lives.
Critical Analysis (Messages): A Time For Toys is a good story to represent the things we are fortunate to have such as food and toys, it also sets a good example on why it’s good to keep a positive attitude even when times are harder than ever. The story could have said more about the other people who were in the holocaust, it only shows Jewish women and children, when there were many other people involved including people of colour, homosexuals and intellectually or physically handicapped people. There isn’t anything that says why they were in the concentration camp so it could have given some background information on the event so the audience can put the story into context. It would be a good story to represent equality if it showed that they were put in the camp due to their religion, race, etc. Overall the story is good for the age group it is aimed at.
Submitted by Desiree and Rebecca

Title: Fly Away Home
Author(s): Even Bunting
Illustrated by: Ronald Himler
Theme: Homelessness, Poverty, Social Justice

Brief summary: The book tells the story of a boy and his father who live in an airport as they cannot afford a place to live. It outlines their daily struggles and interactions in this environment. While this book presents a somber topic the reader is left with the hope that the characters will be able to overcome their financial challenges. We felt that this book would be appropriate for grade 3 health as it fits well with the outcomes and indicators.

Critical analysis:
This book provides a relatively realistic approach to poverty. It is realistic in that it does not show an older person living on the street but a child and his father. Realism also occurs in showing the fathers efforts to work but still cannot afford the cost of rent. Continued reality occurs in the North American setting of the book While the reader is not aware of what part of North America it is recognized that poverty happens in our society and is not exclusive to third world countries.

One criticism that we can make regarding this book was the description of the son 'working' in the airport by helping people with their luggage and carts. Even though the boy is with a fellow family while the father is at work we felt that the message of children working at a young age is a negative one. We also recognize that as teachers presenting this book we must be careful not to instil a fear in our students that they will have to live in airport if anything should happen to one of their parents. They should understand that things do happen but that most families have support systems of families and friends to help them. To conclude, we felt that this book may send a message that children should try to remain anonymous as the boy did in order to survive in the airport. We do not want this message to be portrayed as we want our students to able to express and interact with the world using their personalities.

To conclude, we would like to state that some questions we felt were not answered through the story of the boy. We feel that these might need further discussion in the class. These questions were Did the father and son not have family or friends they could stay with? Did they just move to city to look for work and had no where to stay? Why was the second family in the airport when there was both a mother and a father?
Submitted By Marissa and Emily


Title: Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak: One Woman’s Journey Through the Northwest Passage

Author: Victoria Jason

Theme(s): Inuit Culture and Language, Empowerment of Women, Interdependence, Health and Wellness, Follow Your Dreams

Brief Summary: Victoria Jason, a forty-five year-old Grandmother of four and survivor of two strokes, tells first-hand accounts of her kayaking expedition through Canada’s arctic. This book follows her 7500-kilometer journey across the Northwest Passage during the summers of 1991 through 1994.

Critical Analysis:

This book is far more than just a paddling journal; it is a story about determination, survival, kindness, understanding, and respect. The book describes the friendships that Victoria Jason established with the Inuit people she met along her travels, as well as the admiration Jason has for the North. This book highlights various Inuit traditions and describes how some of those traditions (i.e. kayaking) have been lost.

Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak also highlights the difficulties that Jason experienced; it provides an insight into the extreme conditions and dangers of the north and showcases instances of verbal and physical abuse between Jason and her paddling partner, Don Starkell, who paddled with Jason during the first two years of her journey. It also describes several occasions where Jason neglects her health to continue to pursue the journey.

This book contains many great teaching stories that range from the understanding and appreciation of culture and diversity to valuing the environment and its resources. It also stresses the importance of taking care of ones self and of others. Although some of the language may be too advanced for young learners and some of the content may be borderline inappropriate, there are many journal entries and short stories that can be used to demonstrate the beauty of the Inuit people and their ways of knowing. Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak is an inspirational story for all people but focuses on the strength of the female spirit.

Submitted by: Denine Peterson

Title: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Author: Anne Frank, Translated by B. M. Mooyart-Doubleday
Theme: Holocaust, Nazi Germany, Race and Ideology.
Brief Summary:Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl is the diary of a thirteen year old Jewish girl living in Holland during the Second World War. Anne and her family are forced into hiding when he older sister Margot receives a call-up notice from the Nazi guard. The entire Frank family as well as the van Daan family and Mr. Dussel, the dentist, hide out in the “secret annex” above Otto Frank’s (Anne’s Father) office building. The Franks and their companions remain in the “secret annex” for two years before they are discovered by the Nazi guard.
Critical Analysis: Even though Anne Frank was just a young girl when she wrote this diary it carries many powerful messages about the war, the Nazi regime, and racism against Jewish people during this time. In her diary Anne discusses Hitler’s racial beliefs and how he thought that Jews were lesser people. Although Anne does not explicitly say it, her diary shows Hitler and the Nazi Party’s goal of racial purity and that Hitler’s solution was racial genocide. Anne’s diary shows how Jewish people were excluded from businesses and could not use public transportation as other people could, as well as how Jewish children were only allowed to attend Jewish schools. This is an indication of how Hitler and his followers viewed and treated the Jewish people. Anne also shows the fear of the Nazi Party and fear of being taken to concentration camps experienced by Jewish people during the war. The diary of Anne Frank gives readers an interesting perspective on the Holocaust from the position of the oppressed. Her diary shares first hand, her struggles and fears of trying to live through the war as a Jewish person, this is important because it shows the world and the war as she sees it, not as it has been interpreted today.
Submitted by: Courtney Bisson

Title: All Families Are Special
Theme: Families
Author: Norma Simon
Illustrator: Teresa Flavin
Brief Summary: As the story opens, Mrs. Mack announces to her class that her daughter is having a baby and she is excited about becoming a grandmother. This sparks a discussion with the students about family. As each child shares their family backgrounds, a story of diversity and uniqueness unfolds. The children discuss various ways in which families support each other through good and bad times and how special all families are. Illustrations feature multicultural families engaged in a variety of activities.
Critical Analysis: A wide representation of families is shown throughout the book, including: single parent families, blended families, extended families, adopted families and same-sex parents. Serious family issues such as illness, job-loss and divorce are discussed. While the illustrations feature children and families from multiple ethnicities, there are no children with visible physical disabilities present.
The author’s message at the beginning of the book offers further insight into the significant role family plays in the development of the child and how families are places of both joy and hardship. She also addresses how the typical family has evolved in the past fifty years and that children today live in very diverse definitions of family. Overall, this book offers abroad and valuable perspective of families.
Submitted by: Megan Blenkin and Paula Viher

Title: When Fish are Mean
Themes: Bullying and Acceptance
Author: Lisa Galjanic
Illustrated by: Michelle Hope
Summary: The story begins with all of the fish swimming in the ocean, playing peacefully together. Their goal was to show everyone how special and beautiful they are. The snails are very sad and lonely as they watch from their dark and gloomy caves. The fish start to bully the snails because they are not as beautiful as they are. The fish continue to be mean, so the snails bury themselves deep within their cave. The snails become too big to fit inside their cave and against their own will they are forced out of their comfort zone and begin to realize how beautiful they truly are. The fish also begin to notice the snails’ beauty. After the fish accept the snails for who they truly are, all of the fish and snails live peacefully and happily ever after.
Critical Analysis: The intent of the book “When Fish are Mean” is to raise the issues of; bullying, race, self-image, and acceptance. The fish represent the dominant races of society, whereas the snails represent Indigenous populations around the world. The fish make fun of the snails and the issues the snails face represent how they are oppressed because they are not the same as dominant cultures. The snails teach us how to be accepting of our own cultures, as well as be happy for whom we are. The fish realize that the snails are “people” too- the snails are also creatures of the sea although they may look different. The fish can be a representation of the media and self-image. The models in a magazine are presented to be “perfect” with no flaws. This makes individuals feel bad about themselves which in turn makes them “go into hiding.” This has an effect on low self-esteem. The snails experience this and do not come out of hiding until they realize that they do not need to hide who they are. When the snails come out of hiding, the fish realize that the snails are beautiful creatures too, and learnt to accept them for who they are.
Submitted by: Destiny Caissie and Jenna Kulyk

Title: "Redruff: The Story of the Don Valley Partridge", in Wild Animals I Have Known
Title: The Breadwinner
Author: Deborah Ellis
Theme: The dominant theme is war as explored by the novel's main character, and eleven year old girl, Parvana.
Brief Summary: The book tells the story of Parvana and their family as they cope with the Taliban coming into power and Afghanistan. Parvana and their family have been uprooted from their home, bombed, and left with very little belongings. Her parents had both gone to university and had good jobs, they had a nice house, and all of the children went to school. The war has left Parvana’s father without a leg and killed her eldest brother. The family of 6 is now living in one room with her father making a living by reading letters in the market. Their family must haul water and boil it, eat a diet of tea, rice, and bread, have no photographs, books, or windows. Women are not allowed out in public without being escorted by a male; therefore Parvana’s mother and siblings have not been outside in over a year. When Parvana’s father is arrested Parvana must transform into a boy in order to make a living for her family so that they can have enough food to eat. It is when Paravan’s mother, three sisters, and brother leave to Kabul in hopes of a living without the Taliban and to have her eldest sister married, that her father is released from prison. The book ends with Paravana and her father learning that the Taliban has also taken over Kabul so they decide to travel and meet with them.
Critical Analysis: The book discusses the impact of war on the people of Afghanistan and their fight for survival. It focuses on homelessness, trauma, the Taliban restrictions, gender equity issues (mainly the treatment of women), discrimination, and intolerance towards others. An underlining theme is also the value of education, literacy, and friendship. Ellis is telling this story through the eyes of Parvana which can help students relate to her since she is only a child. The story describes how war can manage to destroy a country and completely change how a person lives their day-to-day life. This book is an excellent way to get students to start thinking about their lifestyle, the culture of others, the impacts of politics, and the impact on war. Students are able to compare and contrast their own country to Afghanistan and are able to describe their own personal experiences with war, discrimination, intolerance towards others, poverty, trauma, gender equity issues, etc. Students will also be able to identify stereotypes that exist in different countries and will hear stories of war from a perspective other than a soldier. This text is helpful for teachers interested in teaching social justice as it sparks discussion of a variety of important issues.
Submitted By: Ally Rock and Kristine Kreklewich

Title: One Is Canada
Author: Maxine Trottier
Full Reference: Trottier, M. (2000). One Is Canada. HarperCollins Canada.
Theme: Relating Math and Canadian Culture
Brief Summary: One is Canada is an elementary counting book that celebrates Canada in its land, its resources, its heritage, and its people. Each number visits a chapter in Canada’s history making a bridge from is rich past, building a vision towards its exciting future. With perspectives from the Pacific Ocean, to the prairies, all the way up to Nunavut, One is Canada makes learning the numbers 1-10 a part of Canada.
Critical Analysis (Messages): Although the concept of relating subjects such as math or science to things such as culture and diversity, or from a cross-curricular perspective seem very daunting and almost unfeasible, materials like this make such possible. Learning the basic one through ten numbers is straight forward enough and is seemingly essential to life, but by relating it to Canada and all that encompasses it, the reader (or perhaps listener) gets a much deeper message. A sense of belonging and patriotism shines through page by page as Canada’s diversity, landscape, symbols, people, pioneers, anthem, are brought forth to allow the viewer to simultaneously get incorporated with an essential mathematical topic and also to genuinely feel and get a sense of being Canadian.
Submitted by: Micheal Head
Author: Ernest Thompson Seton
Theme: Learn from mistakes; animal rights; single parent families; family bonds; children should respect/obey their parents ("obedience is long life")
Title: A Promise is a Promise
Author: Story: Robert Munsch & Michael Kusugak; Art: Vladyana Krykorka
Theme: Family, love and loyalty, fiction
Brief summary: Allashua makes a promise to her mother that she will not fish in the ocean because Qallupilluit live there and they will take her away, Allashua does not listen and goes to the ocean anyway. Since she doesn’t see the Qallupilluit, she begins to call and taunt them; when they do not come, she figures they were not there and begins to fish. When the Qallupilluit do come, Allashua promises the Qallupilluit that she will bring her brothers and sisters for them in order to save herself. The mother and father devise a plan in order to save their children. This plan ends up working and the Qallupilluit promise they will never take a human child ever again.
Critical Analysis: This story shows many stereotypes in the life of a family in the Northwest Territories or in Native American, with many of the stereotypes being in the art of the book. This book may lead children to believe that all Native American’s have darker skin and dark hair, they live in heavy sweaters and wear parkas all year long. All families live within walking distance of the ocean and they have at least one dog. There are always mounds of snow piled high around the house. The actual story may lead people to believe that the parents let their children do whatever they want with few restrictions and punishments and that even when restrictions are made, the children do not listen. It may lead people to believe that the common stereotype that all Native Americans dance is true, along with the legend that they believe in fictional spirits and monsters. One true thing about this story, I believe, is that the parents would do anything in the world to save their children from any amount of hurt.
Submitted by: Christina Schmidt
Brief Summary: This story follows the behaviours and difficulties of survival of a 'partridge' family (Ruffed Grouse, Bonasa umbellus) over the course of a life cycle. Mother Grouse teaches her large brood of chicks how to find food and escape danger, but over time predators (animal and human) and disease claim the weakest birds and only three survive to maturity. The strongest, Redruff, encounters solitude, courtship, good fortune, and loss along his life journey. After a merciless hunter kills his mate, Redruff continues to care for his remaining offspring. Throughout the story, Redruff is plagued by a hunter, who eventually causes Redruff a slow and painful death by the irresponsible use of a snare trap.
Critical Analysis (Messages): This story comes from a collection of children's nature stories written from the point of view of different animals. In this story, Seton mingled the results of his detailed wildlife observations with his love of nature and artistic ability to paint a realistic rather than purely romantic view of animals and nature. Written in the style of its time (1898), the text is rich and descriptive; this provides an opportunity for cross-curricular connections to be made with vocabulary and forms of writing. One caveat is that a few terms have become antiquated since the time of publication and have fallen out of common usage. One such term is the word "coon", which is used here as a shortened form of "raccoon", but in modern usage has assumed a slang form with derogatory connotations. However, aside from this notable example, the text generally fits well with modern vocabulary and is easily comprehensible.
Title: The Moon and the Stars
Author: Alona Frankel
Theme: Children’s Emotions
Brief Summary: The Moon and the Stars focuses on a young girl named Prudence, who is in kindergarten. She woke up on the wrong side of the bed and goes through most of the day feeling as if something is missing. Her father, grandparents and teacher tried to lift her grumpy mood by offering temporary fixes to enhance her mood. When Prudence’s mood does not improve, the people in her life become frustrated. She was offered the moon and the stars but all she wanted was the comfort of her mother who enters at the end of the story.
Critical Analysis (Messages): The Moon and the Stars expresses the different moods a young child can experience. The book does a good job giving light to the fact that young children can struggle with mood changes similar to adults but the way those changes are dealt with are questionable. Throughout the book, Prudence was offered a range of materialistic items to lift her moods but she was never asked specifically ‘what is wrong?’ Providing children with material goods to lift their mood may help some children but not all. Sitting down face to face with children will show them that someone wants to reach out and help. At the end of the book, Prudence’s mood brightens as her mother enters the story. The message that mothers will lift a child’s mood can prove to be problematic as not every child has a mother in their life. All in all, The Moon and the Stars successfully portrays how moods can affect someone’s day.
Seton used a Darwinian perspective (i.e. natural selection) and referenced many relevant biological concepts, such as genetics, innate behaviours, adaptations, courtship rituals, survival, and predation. This may convey to children a more realistic view of nature and of life, that there is not always a 'happy ending'. In addition, Seton conveys the importance of families sticking together in crisis, and parents as positive role models. Throughout the story, Seton advocates for responsible hunting and wildlife management, as well as respect for and humane treatment of animals.
Submitted by: Nicole Malawski and Melissa Comte
Title: Knuffle Bunny
Author: Mo Willems
Theme: The World Around Us and Within (ELA B10)
Brief Summary:
In Knuffle Bunny Free the main character Trixie travels with her parents to visit her grandparents in Holland. Trixie leaves her beloved Knuffle Bunny on the plane is crushed when she realizes her favourite companion is gone. Even though she misses her toy she still enjoys her trip and takes in some of the culture of Holland. A coming of age happens along the trip as she realizes she is growing older and doesn’t need her Bunny as much anymore. When she gets back on the plane she finds her Knuffle Bunny stuffed in the seat in front of her. She is rejoiced during this reunion but shocks every one when she gives her Bunny to the crying baby in the row behind her.
Critical Analysis (Messages): Although many would consider this book to be far below the skill level of a Grade 10 student, this book provides a very good example of the messages intended as the theme for ELA B10. The big picture message of the theme for this unit of study taken out of the curriculum is, “We are all part of a larger world community. As such, we need to reflect on the elements within our world – self, family, and community as well as the natural and constructed worlds, and our influence on these and on future generations. By exploring various perspectives and our relationships with nature and constructed environments, we can examine our roles (worshipper, exploiter, master, steward, student, etc.). Through deeper understanding of ourselves, our constructed worlds, and nature, we can become agents of change who build a better world for today and for tomorrow”. This book primarily focuses on self, family, and community and it builds on how people (students) can become “agents of change” to make the world better now and for the future. An example of this in the book is when Trixie loses her beloved Knuffle Bunny on their journey to her Oma and Opa’s house and is devastated by this. This is the last book in the Knuffle Bunny series and throughout the series one can see the deep attachment Trixie has to Knuffle Bunny. Trixie’s actions on the plane home truly shows how one individual can make the world a better place.
Submitted by: Austen Anderson and A.J Zech

Title: A Promise is a Promise
Author: Robert Munsch and Micheal Kusugak , Illustration: Vladyana Krkorka
Theme: Honesty, the Importance of Family, Actions and Consequences, Problem Solving and Decision Making, Inuit Legends
Brief Summary:
This story tells the tale of a young Inuit girl who breaks a promise to her mother and pays with delivering her siblings to an almost certain death under the sea. Allashua is a young girl who promises her mother she will only fish on the lake, for evil Qallupolluit live under the ocean and grab children who are not with their parents. Allashua promises her mother she will not fish on the ocean but she lies because she believes that Qallupolluit do not exist. She is proved wrong and must bring all of her brothers and sisters to the Qallupolluit to pay for her foolishness.