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Bookends, Sept 2/11 September 6, 2011

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.

Bookends: Schooltime all Over the World

By Dan Davidson

August 31, 2011 – Whitehorse Star (Sept. 2/11)

– 796 words –


Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World

By Susan Hughes

Owl Kids

64 pages



As hundreds of students all over the Yukon face the prospect of echoing Shakespeare’s whining schoolboy and creep unwillingly to school like snails, with their shining morning faces and the backpacks which have largely replaced satchels, they might find it instructive to compare their experience with that of the many children around the world who go to different kinds of schools.

This is not a book full of horror stories about the less fortunate, though some of the double page spreads might prompt that comparison. It is divided into three chapters, and each chapter profiles seven or eight schools or types of schools

“Working with the Environment.” for instance, shows us travelling boat schools in Bangladesh, a charter school in flood-ravaged New Orleans, an improved village school in Burkina Faso, and the super-green David Suzuki Public School in Windsor, Ontario.

In chapter two, “No School? No Way!” we see the ways in which communities have overcome weather, distances and lack of resources to make schools where there had been none. We visit Cambodia. Nepal, Kenya, Iran, China, Uganda, and Honduras.

The current traditional school system is not the only way to deliver education, and “One Size Doesn’t Fit All” showcases eight alternatives. There are nomadic schools in Siberia, portable schools in Thailand, distance education from Alberta delivered by the Internet to the island of New Caledonia, and mobile schools in many parts of South and Central America, Africa, the Far East and some European nations. In India some school buses are actually School buses, while there are families all over that homeschool their students with or without prescribed curriculum materials.

This book is suggested for students 9 to 13 years of age. It is well organized with a simple, but not simplistic, text, an attractive layout and lots of colour photographs. Maps for each two page spread show where we are in the world and sidebars present some of the information in a personalized way, as if written by a student from the area.


The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, volume One

By Don Rosa

Boom Kids!

129 pages



Scrooge McDuck is a comic book character created by cartoonist Carl Barks in 1947. Modeled on Dickens’ Scrooge to a large extent, he is Donald’s uncle (hence known to Donald and his three nephews as “Unca Scrooge”). He is the world’s richest duck, still has the first dime he ever earned, and founded his considerable fortune (kept in a money bin where the coinage is so deep he can swim in it) with his discovery of the Goose Egg nugget on White Agony Creek in, you guessed it, the Klondike. A year later, he had his first million, a number which had a lot more heft in1900.

The estimated value of his fortune by 1947 was five billion quintiplitilion unptuplatillion multuplatillion impossibidillion fantasticatrillion dollars.

The folks at Disney, and comic books generally, were not much on continuity back then. A character would have an adventure, survive it, and the next issue it would seem that someone had hit a reset button, often because the next story had a different artist and writer. Scrooge was a bit different, perhaps because Barks was the main artist/writer who handled him. In his constant quest for more wealth to fill his bins, Scrooge scoured the planet and, by the time I started reading about him in the late 1950s, was having the sort of adventures that Indiana Jones would have later on. All the while, Barks kept dropping clues about his back-story, so many that, decades later, Don Rosa was able to stitch them into a fairly coherent 12 issue biography over a period of several years, beginning in 1991. In 1995 the entire series received the Eisner Award for Best Serialized Story.

This volume is reprinted in a handsome hardcover edition, complete with wrap around cover, endpapers and a bookmark included in the binding. It collects the first six issues, along with liner notes and hints about visual Easter Eggs by the creator. Each story has a framing sequence set in the 1940s present, during which some artifact (as in The Highlander television series) triggers a memory, and off we go.

The memories begin when Scrooge is a wee duck of 10 in Glasgow, and carry on to 1887, when he is seeking his fortune during the diamond and gold rush in South Africa. The jokes are corny, the slapstick is fun, the adventure is quite a bit more than you might expect from a bunch of ducks, and the art is superb.





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