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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Our Canadian Flag

Reviewed: July 2, 2004
By: Maxine Trottier / illustrations by Brian Deines
Publisher: North Winds Press
32 pages, $19.00

What more appropriate book to lead off a Canada Week review column than this one, Our Canadian Flag. It even better, in my mind any way, that Maxine Trottier has been in the Yukon, having toured several communities just a few years ago. I don't know that the dogsled race pictured on page 17 was inspired by that trip, but I can conjecture that it might have been.

This is a book that works on a number of levels, and might actually require two separate readings to deal with properly. Most obviously it is a children's picture book, with full page colour impressionistic paintings by Brian Deines.

What I will call the BIG text tends to follow the pictures (or maybe it's the other way around). Set in a large type face Trottier talks about what the flag means to the country by telling us about all the places where it is on display: businesses, official buildings, airports, sports events, in space, on clothing, affixed to wreaths and waved in parades.

There's a more complex tale being told at the same time in a boxed section at the bottom on each left hand page. These sidebars, each with a smaller illustration, discuss the historical significance of the maple, where and when Canada got its colours (you may be surprised), what flags were used before the Maple Leaf, where else the leaf has been used in our history, how the flag design was picked and first assembled, as well as some technical details about the parts of the flag.

These sections also contain a number of quotations from historical speeches given during the flag debates of 1964 and on the first Flag Day, Feb. 15, 1965.

Oddly, it was another 30 years before we got around to marking that day on the calendar, and it isn't a holiday yet.

There's a lot of information packed into this little book, and it is clearly on the market at an appropriate time.

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