Waterston's informative study brings to life Canadian
history and culture and illuminates a unique literary community in which acclaimed adult
writers like Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, and Mordechai Richler are also the authors
of children's books. Waterston demonstrates the distinctly Canadian elements of such works as
The Young Fur Traders (1856), Anne of Green Gables (1908), and
Alligator Pie (1974). Part of the Twayne World Authors Series, Canadian books appropriate for
each age, from pre-school to "Young Adult" are summarized and critiqued.
This study builds on Jean Piaget's theory of child development and discusses the various
literary genres that appeal to children at each stage, from picture books and nursery rhymes to
historical tales and science fiction. In addition to her focus on the response of the child
to various genres, Waterston provides sophisticated literary analysis of the works that have
endured as classics, demonstrating how their continuing relevance is rooted in their literary
merit. She examines literary styles, themes, and motifs and shows how many of the perennial
favorites embrace quintessentially Canadian virtues: honesty, a strong will to survive,
humor, passion, and genuine kindness. American and Canadian teachers, librarians, and
parents will find in this complete guide a resource for expanding their young readers'
Elizabeth Waterston surveys the recurrent themes and major genres of this literature from
settlement in the eighteenth century to the present day in Children's Literature in Canada.
The 16-page selected bibliography of primary works appended to Waterston's study not only
provides a valuable resource for readers unacquainted with the rich variety of children's
texts published in Canada, but also points readers well acquainted with the literature of
the past few decades to the largely unknown but significant holdings of early children's
texts in Canadian archives and libraries.
Mavis Reimer, “Charting the outlines of Canadian children's
literature,” The Lion and the Unicorn - 19, 1, June 1995.