Awhile ago, I posted in anticipation of Scholastic's new I Am Canada series. I had a few reservations. My feelings about the name remain (a bit beer commercially), but I'm won over by the prettiness.
The first two books are Hugh Brewster's Prisoner of Dieppe and Paul Yee's Blood and Iron. Both these authors are natural choices for these topics as they've already done their homework: Brewster's Dieppe: Canada's Darkest Days of World War II came out last year and no one should ever forget about Paul Yee's Tales From Gold Mountain and Ghost Train.
The I Am Canada website, as is the case with the Dear Canada site, is stellar. It is also imbued with a healthy amount of testosterone and perfectly reflects the books in all their navy blue glory. I'm really impressed with the cover design - it has enough in common with Dear Canada with the photo and the weathered paper, but also stands alone, too. These boys and girls sure look smart together, don't they?
It's interesting that the I Am Canada books seem available only in paperback (correct me if I'm wrong here). Perhaps because of the maxim that boys prefer paperbacks? If so, very interesting.
While I think boys might be reluctant to read the Dear Canada books (there's a picture of a chick on the front, plus the hardcovers have a ribbon for a bookmark), I can see gals partaking in I Am Canada.
Next up is to give these new boys on the block a read and see how they measure up. But with authors like Brewster and Yee on board, I suspect the final verdict will be... Shannon: 0 I Am Canada: 1
Scholastic's Dear Canada books are the ultimate reference desk crossover books. I've recommended them on the job both at the public library (for chidlers wanting some good historical fiction) and the academic library (for teachers looking for books to integrate into the curriculum). They're well-written, have teacher resources, and are very, very purdy. What's more, they have often been my "I'm stressed out and need something I know will be good to read in the bathtub" book of choice. My favourite one is A Prairie as Wide as The Sea: The Immigrant Diary of Ivy Weatherall by Sarah Ellis. I was born, had my awkward years, and did my undergraduate degree in Saskatchewan and worship at the alter of Sarah Ellis, so this isn't really a surprise.
The authoresses of the Dear Canada books are the best in the country, and I remember being tickled with glee when I heard a boy was being let into the all-girls club. Perry Nodelman joined the ladies in 2007 with Not a Nickel to Spare: The Great Depression Diary of Sally Cohen and the series chugged along being dependably awesome.
However, while Dear Canada works with both reference desks, it doesn't totally work with both genders as the main characters (not to mention all the authors except Nodelman) have been chicks. But the Canadian Children's Book Centre recently announced that there would be a new series, just for dudes called...drumroll...
I AM CANADA.
Okay. Here's what I think about that...
First: It really, really, really (really) sounds like a certain beer commercial. By "a certain beer commercial" I mean this beer commercial.
Second: Won't girls have the reaction of, "Hey, I'M Canada, too!" I kinda did. And I'm a girl.
Third: Why can't the new books with a boy focus just be incorporated under the already-existing Dear Canada series? Is there an assumption that boys might not be into the Dear Canada title because of its association with writing? I'm not saying that the association with writing will or won't turn boys off, but perhaps that was a consideration in deciding the name? Perhaps it was thought that the connotation had to be something more of "I am a man who stands on a mountain and wears beaver pelts!" as opposed to "I am a thoughtful, pensive citizen who favours written communication over killing a beaver with my bare hands?"
In any event, I can't wait to read them, see what they look like, and see how much boys love them. I'm super pumped to see John Wilson on the list of authors who will kick off the series. I met him during my time as Coordinator of the Canada Book Camp and he is a stand-up guy and a huge hit with the chidlers (especially when he busts out some WWII stories).