July 30, 2014

How to be a Mountie

Boldly Canadian: The Story of the RCMP
by Joann Hamilton-Barry

This book provides a complete look at the Mounties - their formation, their history, and their crime-fighting skills. It describes the various kinds of work they do, from catching criminals to patrolling borders, to defusing emergencies and working with the United Nations. Stories about real-life field cases add interest, as do the descriptions about RCMP training and the Musical Ride.

July 28, 2014


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
by Marc Tétro

Simple text and bold illustrations tell the story of the RCMP and their involvement in some of the key moments of Canadian history.

A good book for ages 4-6.

July 25, 2014

Buried treasure

X Doesn't Mark the Spot: Tales of Pirate Gold, Buried Treasure, and Lost Riches
by Ed Butts

Many of these tales are just that: tales. Buried treasure was rarely found and there is no evidence that such riches even existed. All they did was to inspire some fantastical, supernatural ghost stories. The only true stories are the two about shipwrecks, which did yield sackfuls of coins and artifacts.

The jacket blurb and cover, which sports the only picture, makes this book sound more exciting than it actually is.

July 23, 2014

Pirate bios

Infamous Pirates
by Richard Kozar

Brief profiles of twenty-five pirates detail their exploits, their tactics and their often ignominious ends. Not terribly exciting, but it could be a jumping off point for further research.

July 21, 2014


Pirate's Passage
by William Gilkerson

Twelve-year-old Jim and his mother run a small Nova Scotian inn that may go out of business. Into their lives comes Captain Charles Johnson, whose yacht blows into port during a storm. A mysterious, eccentric figure, the captain helps Jim fend off bullies while regaling him with true tales of piracy on the high seas. The captain's stories are made even more captivating by his ability to pull Jim - and by extension, the reader - right into the action. 

The captain gets a bit didactic at times so some of the pages may be slow going. However, the narrative always perks up when he starts talking about shipboard life, sea battles, and pirate law and justice. The graphic details will keep kids enthralled, though those with overactive imaginations shouldn't read the book at night.

Very entertaining.

A Thousand Years of Pirates
by William Gilkerson

For kids who may be put off by the length of Pirate's Passage (362 pages), give them this handsome book (96 pages, including index). Readers will meet early Viking and European pirates, plus the more notorious ones such as Captain Kidd, Woodes Rogers, John Paul Jones, and Grace O'Malley.

The text itself is very matter-of-fact and not terribly exciting, but Gilkerson's finely drawn paintings make up for it. His book will also have readers questioning their views about world explorers who, when you think about it, were actually pirates. They went around looting, plundering and amassing riches at the expense of native peoples everywhere. That they did so in the name of kings and queens is no excuse.

A good summary of pirate history.

July 18, 2014

A grain of sand

Adventures in Sand
by David M. Baird

Kids spend lots of time at beaches. But do they ever wonder where all the sand came from? David Baird does, and in his book, he extols the wonders of sand -- how sand is made, why it comes in so many colours, what it can tell us about the earth, and how waves form the sandy ripples we run across.

Good food for thought.

Sand on the Move: The Story of Dunes
by Roy A. Gallant

The text's a bit dry and there aren't enough photos, but this book does tell you some things you may not know about deserts and sand dunes. You'll find out how star-shaped dunes are formed, how dunes bury villages, and why dunes go boom.

July 16, 2014

Seaside poems

Driftwood Dragons
by Tyne Brown
illustrations by Tamara Thiebaux Heikalo

Anyone who has ever spent time at the beach will appreciate Brown's collection of seaside poems. Her enchanting, lyrical verse capture all the sights and sounds of the ocean. Here's one of her poems. It's called Deep Freeze.

Hot day.
Hot sun, 
Hot sand,
Quick, run --
Ocean blue,
So nice,
Jump in,
Like ice!

July 14, 2014

Marvelous shells

Seashells: Treasures From the Northeast Coast
by J. Roach-Evans

Gently tinted illustrations and simple text make this little book a pleasure to look at. Take it along if you're vacationing in the northeastern United States this summer. It'll help you identify some of the shells that you may find on the beaches of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, or New York state.

(DK Eyewitness Books)

Jam-packed with photos, kids will while away the hours perusing this interesting book. They'll discover lots of fascinating facts about turtles, snails, crabs, mollusks, corals, and other shelled creatures

July 11, 2014

Fun with soil

Dirty Science: 25 Experiments with Soil
by Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone

Dirty Science turns outdoor play into educational fun. In twenty-five easy experiments, kids can discover amazing things in the soil under their feet. They'll find out what kinds of material make up soil, what types of organisms live in soil, how to grow plants without soil, and how to turn a pink flower blue.

An excellent way to stave off summer boredom.

July 9, 2014

All about worms

The Worm
by Elise Gravel

Gravel's silly dialogue and droll illustrations will have kids begging for repeated readings of her fun little book. They'll also learn some basic facts about worms.

Good for preschoolers.

Wiggling Worms At Work
by Wendy Pfeffer

Slightly older kids (first or second graders) will enjoy this book. It goes into more detail about worms: how they move, what they eat, and how they reproduce. It also explains how worm castings and tunneling maintain soil health and promote plant growth.

With paper collages by Steve Jenkins.

Lowdown on Earthworms
by Norma Dixon

This book introduces readers to three common worm species and how they live. Clear drawings depict the worm's outside and inside body parts, as well as cutaway views of underground worm burrows. References to Charles Darwin's research on worms are scattered throughout the book, as are suggestions for conducting simple versions of his experiments. Kids can also observe worms by constructing a wormery and a worm composting bin, but they'll need adult assistance.


by Elaine Pascoe
photographs by Dwight Kuhn

The layout of this book is not as friendly; some kids may be turned off by the dense text. It's good for the many close-up photographs of worm castings and egg cocoons. The book is also filled with many experiments for kids to explore and observe the beneficial aspects of worms.