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Review: O Canada! Historical Narratives and Biographies that Tell Her Story by Karla Aikins

While Canadians have access to many historical narratives about our great country, these resources are not generally available in the United States.  Apparently Americans typically learn very little about the colorful history of their northern neighbor.  O Canada! seeks to remedy that.  Subtitled Historical Narratives and Biographies that Tell Her Story, this book is full of little-known tidbits that would fascinate Canadians as well as Americans.

O Canada! presents eight snapshots of Canada’s history for middle school children.  Lively narratives, full of realistic conversation and description, kept us on the edges of our seats.  The eight chapters cover

  1. The Haida Gwaii of the west coast. A Haida grandfather shows his modern Christian granddaughter all about her native history and finally consents to hear her story of Noah and his great canoe.
  2. The Vikings, told through the voice of Leif’s pet dog.
  3. The moving story of an old violin spanning the two disasters of the 1775 expulsion of the Acadians and Hurricane Katrina.
  4. A playful account of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s life in which she mirrors her famous character, Anne of Green Gables.
  5. The difficult school career and world-changing research of Sir Frederick Grant Banting, one of the discoverers of insulin.
  6. The sad, sad story of the Dionne Quintuplets and what happens when doctors, governments, and tourists forget that children are blessings.
  7. The little-known history of Canada’s train schools that served remote Ontario villages for more than forty years.
  8. Terry Fox, the young man who spread hope in the fight against cancer by attempting to run across Canada with an amputated leg.

Each story begins with a clear map, and several end with extra historical information.  Some illustrations are included. Unlike most modern history books, O Canada! is written from a Christian perspective.

Karla Akins is a talented story-teller who knows how to make history come alive.  In O Canada! she taught our family about new topics, such as the train schools.  Her lively stories kept us interested and asking for more.  We laughed through some of the narratives, but others are very sad.  The tale of the Dionne quintuplets, for example, almost overwhelmed my nine-year-old daughter and gave my older children a new appreciation for a healthy family.  O Canada! is a mind-expanding book in many ways, and a great springboard to further learning.  It would be a valuable addition to any middle school study about Canada.

You can buy  O Canada! Historical Narratives and Biographies that Tell Her Story from Knowledge Quest and Bramley Books as a paperback or an ebook.

Do note that the editing and proofreading of this book could have been greatly improved.  We noticed factual errors as well.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of O Canada! from Knowledge Quest and Bramley Books in order to review it.

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