In this year of celebrations in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, Scholastic has re-released Heather Patterson’s timeless and beautiful poem in a gorgeous new edition that features the art of 13 of Canada’s most celebrated and beloved illustrators. Originally published in 1996, this poem is a joy-filled ode to many of the things that make Canada such a special place to call home: “I have space./I have time./I make up my mind./I am free.”
In its short, simple sentences, it recounts a long litany of things that we as Canadians can do in this counry where we are free to hope and dream and laugh and play and be who we are, savouring what is unique about our home. It stirs the heart and imagination, making it the perfect piece to showcase the artistry of these well-loved children’s book creators.
Appropriately, each double-page spread showcases the unique style of its creator while celebrating a particular aspect of Canadian culture, geography or its character, some facet of what “being Canadian” can mean.
The magnificent cover illustration from Danielle Daniel captures the radiance and the energy of the Northern Lights, depicting children and woodland animals together savouring the majesty of this land. Barbara Reid creates a joyful winter scene using her trademark Plasticene illustrations.
Genevieve Cote interprets the lines “I am free. I am Canada” with her delicate watercolour image of a loon with its wings outstretched. Qin Leng artfully portrays “I am quiet, I am curious, I am friendly, I am funny” with an autumnal forest scene that has a lovely, gentle energy.
Nova Scotia’s Doretta Groenendyk brings to life a nighttime feast featuring a vast array of foods and a diverse collection of characters around the table, highlighting the very multicultural nature of our country. Her folk-art style perfectly captures the sense of community that this poem conveys.
Together, these beautiful, thoughtfully chosen images breathe new life into this poem and offer an opportunity for readers of all ages to consider what Canada means to each of us.
I Am Canada: A Celebration
Heather Patterson, illustrated by Jeremy Tankard, Ruth Ohi, Ruth Ohi, Barbara Reid, Jon Klassen, Marie-Louise Gay, Danielle Daniel, Ashley Spires, Genevieve Cote, Csle Atkinson, Doretta Groenendyk, Qin Leng, Eva Campbell and Irene Luxbacher