For our first stop on our preschool-round-the-world-trip, I picked Canada. It seemed to make sense since we just went on a real trip across the border in August.
First: a disclaimer before I get lots of nasty comments from Canadians. I know you live in a big, diverse, country. I know that there is more to Canada than ice and snow and hockey and moose. But you need to get some children’s authors to write about all that other stuff, ok? Because there just isn’t a lot of Canadian children’s literature. Or, I’m sure there is a lot of children’s literature written by Canadians, but it’s not discernibly Canadian. Which is fine but not so useful when you are planning a round-the-world themed preschool.
We mostly focused on animals for our first week in Canada. I’m not actually sure that Annie and the Wild Animals takes place in Canada but it introduces lots of animals that would be found in a northern forest: a moose, a bear, a stage, a wildcat and a wolf. It’s kind of an odd little book as far as the story: Annie’s cat is lost so she leaves corn cakes at the edge of the forest to attract a new small furry animal to be a pet. But instead she attracts big animals that become more and more demanding of corn cakes. Finally, they all leave when she runs out of corn and Taffy the cat comes back with a litter of kittens. The illustrations are classic Jan Brett and Ruth enjoyed looking at all the animals and at the borders full of details that Brett includes as is typical with her books.
We read several books about moose but Moose Tracks by Karma Wilson was our favorite. Karma Wilson could probably write a manual on dust bunny removal and we would enjoy it. Told in typical rhyming text and with just the right amount of repetition, the narrator of this story is perplexed at why there are moose tracks all over his house. The feathers from the hokey-pokey playing goose and the wood chips in the bed from the beaver can be explained. But the moose tracks? A mystery. The narrator never solves the puzzle but the reader will giggle as it’s revealed on the last page that the narrator is a moose. A moose who claims to never ever make a mess.
Goose’s Story by Cari Best is a sweet story of a girl who becomes attached to a goose with one foot who spends the summer at her family’s pond. When the goose leaves for the winter, the girl is left wondering if it can survive in the wild. Not to worry, there is a happy ending. I liked the sweetness of the connection between girl and wild animal and the way the story is told in a simple, straight-forward text that manages to convey the wonder a child experiences from nature.
I can’t remember where I heard about this book, but it was recommended as a book by a Canadian author. I used it as a way to discuss that not all of Canada is frozen wilderness with the same types of animals. Since we had visited Toronto, we talked about how the mouse in this book might live in those subways. The Subway Mouse lives a life of hardship along with all his relatives underneath the platforms of a busy subway station. But his favorite part of the day is storytime when the older mice tell tales of a place called Tunnel’s End where the air is sweet and food is plentiful. One day, fed up with the noise and cramped conditions in his home, he decides to travel to Tunnel’s End. I liked this book overall. Barbara Reid uses a unique collage style with plasticine or clay that was quite realistic, sometimes almost too much so in the depiction of the rat-like mice and garbage. Although I was a little turned off, I think most kids would be fascinated and not repelled by this story and pictures.
Other books for a “trip” to Canada:
Little Loon and Papa by Toni Buzzeo
Very sweet, appropriate for younger preschoolers. Papa teaches Little Loon how to dive.
Moose on the Loose by Kathy-Jo Wargin
Silly scenarios about what to do with a moose on the loose, told in rhyming text.
Duck Duck Moose by Dave Horowitz
Technically, about a moose in the US not Canada. I also thought it was a bit weird but my kids requested it multiple times. A Moose decides to migrate with his Duck friends to Florida. I think my kids liked the slight comic book feel to the book, and sometimes they like goofy. This was goofy.
Welcome to Canada
Part of the “The Child’s World” series. A fairly generic non-fiction book about Canada but gets the job done at giving a general introduction to the country and has nice photographs for illustrations.