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Native Americans: a visual exploration by S. N. Paleja

Paleja, S.N. Native Americans: a visual exploration. Toronto: Annick Press, 2013. Print.

This book is a non-fiction text using graphics to cover topics as diverse as Aboriginal arrival, culture, language, food, housing, and the environment to present-day Aboriginal issues.

It is chock-full of information using a variety of non-linguistic representations, such as graphs, pictographs, and a variety of graphic organizers in the form of timelines and other visuals.  The colourful pictures help to draw children’s interest and they also help reluctant readers access the content.

A major drawback of the text is that too much information is covered, which means that many of the facts have been overgeneralized and can result in children applying the content to all aboriginal groups.  There are occasional problems with diction, such as using the word “tribes” instead of “First Nations”. Also, there should have been more focus on their culture, what issues they face, and how those issues are dealt with in their communities.

The book is intended for children ages 9-12 but too often, the language used is difficult for readers at this age.  In an attempt to include a vast amount of information the graphics become confusing and are difficult to interpret.

This book is a good starting point for those interested in this topic and is certainly recommended reading for an elementary school.  The timelines and information capture some of the most important points in the historical development of the Aboriginal Peoples.

Recommended: 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Alicia Odeen

Alicia worked for 5 years in a high school library before getting her dream job at the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library.  She now spends most of her time reading stories about dinosaurs, robots, and trains with her 3 year old son William.