Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm hosting Nonfiction Monday today!

Today is Nonfiction Monday, a round up of blogs that recommends nonfiction, children's literature.  This is a fantastic event where you can learn about many titles for kids of various ages.
Please add your blog using the Mr. Linky's Magical Widget attached following my post.  It should add your link immediately.  If there are any problems, please leave your blog post for today's events in the comments box and I'll add it.

Serendipity strikes again!
What great timing to have read The Boy in the Picture: the Craigellachie kid and the driving of the last spike by Ray Argyle (971.05 ArB 2010).

And you’re thinking, “Why would that be?”

Well, first let me ask you to take a close look at the book cover. Anything stand out? What about the young man standing in the centre of this crowd of bearded gentlemen, just to the right of the fellow pounding in the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway? You could play “Which One is Not Like the Other Ones” with this picture.

Now you may be asking, “Who’s this kid? What’s his story? How’d he end up in the middle of a pack of hairy dudes?”


Which is exactly the story -- true story -- I had the pleasure reading about.

He’s Edward Mallandaine. It’s 1885. This 18-year-old too clever kid, often in trouble, known to his teacher as ‘flea bag’, wanted to join the militia to help put down the rebellion instigated by Louis Riel on the Canadian prairies. This true life adventure follows Edward from Victoria, British Columbia through the wilds of the Canadian Rockies. This was a time when much of the interior was inaccessible except on foot or horseback. Traveling was not easy even when there were roads. However smart Edward might have been, his life in Victoria had not prepared him for rough living but his resourcefulness kept him moving eastwards. However, he was sorely disappointed to find out that the rebellion had been quashed without his assistance before reaching his destination.

Despite his unfilled desire of joining the militia, he did have lots of adventures. He meets many colourful people: the ‘Hanging Judge’ Matthew Begbie, Colonel Sam Steel, Governor General Lord Lansdowne, bandits, prostitutes, and Chinese coolies.

Along the way we learn snippets of what was happening during the last stages of construction of the railway – how it was constructed, who was building it, the backbreaking and dangerous work required to get track laid through the mountains and why it was significant in uniting Canada, from the west to east coasts. And, we learn about the circumstances that led to Edward edging his way into a significant moment in Canada’s history, forever captured in the ‘picture’.

Read all about it!

Yes, this is a very readable history book that seems more like a novel. Lots of high adventure illustrating the wildness of the railway building days. The author grew up as a neighbour to Edward and heard many of these stories first hand. Included are a good bibliography and index. I would recommend this for grades 4-9.

Oh, and why was I so excited to have come across this book in the first place? It fits in very nicely with the ‘big idea’ selected by the Nellie McClung Elementary School for the next school year. The big idea is journey. Everything I read right now is geared toward finding resouces that fit with this theme. The Boy in the Picture fits perfectly.

7 comments:

shelf-employed said...

Your post reminds us that the stories of our elders (though sometimes boring!), often yield some real gems. We should take time to listen. Sounds like a great book.

Sue Heavenrich said...

Reviewing Hive Detectives & interview with author

The Swimmer Writer said...

This title is right up my alley!
I like Canadiana. And it will be perfect for my weekly curriculum tie-in. I have been looking at the Common Core Curriculum for various states. Once I read this book, I'll look at the standards for the applicable states.

Jeff Barger said...

Tammy, thank you for hosting today! The Boy in the Picture looks very interesting.

Books4Learning said...

Thanks for hosting and thanks for using the linky. It is so much easier to join and participate when there is instant submissions like that. :)

Janet S. said...

Thanks for hosting.
Do you know the name of the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame? If you don't have the answer then today's selection -- "She Loved Baseball: the Effa Manely Story" written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Don Tate -- is a book for you.

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

I agree that this sounds like a great read indeed. Sometimes truth is even stranger than fiction on occasion as can be seen through valuable finds such as this one. Thank you for sharing this.

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