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Children's Nonfiction General

Hey Canada!

by (author) Vivien Bowers

illustrated by Milan Pavlovic

Initial publish date
May 2012
General, General, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2012
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 7 to 10
  • Grade: 2 to 5


Gran has decided that she is taking nine-year-old Alice and eight-year-old Cal on a road trip across Canada “before she’s old and creaky.” With a sparkling combination of poems, silly songs, tweets and blogs, the trio records the trip for readers everywhere to share. Starting in St. John’s Newfoundland, where they have a “find-it” list that includes a moose and an iceberg and going all the way to the Pacific Ocean, the gang in Hey Canada! offers a delightful way to learn about vast, varied, and surprising Canada.

The book combines narrative, poems, photos, comics about historical events such as the battle at Fortress Louisburg, maps (including provincial flags, birds, and flowers), in a lively, easily accessible format. Not only great fun to read, this is a valuable resource for young Canadians and for visitors across the country.

About the authors

Vivien Bowers appreciates kids' tireless curiosity, and satisfies it with high-energy non-fiction. With over 20 years of writing experience, she has garnered numerous awards and nominations. She is the author of Crazy About Canada! and That's Very Canadian! She lives in Nelson, BC, where she enjoys escaping to the wilderness to ski, hike, or canoe.

Vivien Bowers' profile page

Milan Pavlovic lives in Toronto with his family. When he is not illustrating picture books, drawing or playing the ukulele, he is teaching visual communication and illustration at OCAD University and Seneca College. His many other books include Son of Happy by Cary Fagan, The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle by Anne Renaud, Moon Wishes by Guy and Patricia Storms, Seamus’s Short Story by Heather Hartt-Sussman (“The illustrations, in rich watercolor and colored pencil, are elegantly patterned —School Library Journal, starred review) and The Snuggly by Glen Huser.

Milan Pavlovic's profile page

Editorial Reviews

FINALIST, BC Book Prizes’ Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize
"This is probably the best Canadian travel book written for pre-teens.... Filled with facts, simply related history, engaging tales and colour illustrations presented as souvenirs, postcards and slides, Hey Canada! is guaranteed to stimulate a youngster's urge to explore the country."
The Globe and Mail
“…Observations about capital cities and tourist attractions are captured in Alice’s blog, Cal’s tweets, and their grandmother’s poetry…. Full-page comic strips interspersed throughout and the hamster updates keep the tone of the narration light. Color photographs, cartoon illustrations, and interactive sidebars entitled ‘Find It’ add visual appeal. Bowers gives readers an honest, attractive, and interesting glimpse into this nation’s geography and culture by highlighting the unique aspects of each province and territory.”
— School Library Journal
“[Hey Canada!] aims to both entertain and inform. A smattering of information about the country’s history, nature, landmarks, and geography is interspersed with the repartee of the three human travelers and reports on the shenanigans of the constantly escaping hamster. Illustrations depict the travelers as cartoon characters and frequently insert them into the abundant small photos and drawings of locations…. Students looking for an overview of Canada will find this useful….”
“…Geared for a younger audience, Hey Canada! is easier to read and will be enjoyed by boys and girls alike. The text flows with facts as well as humorous anecdotes made by the two kids and Gran…. Bowers has done a wonderful job of keeping the story flowing with information that could have become boring, but that stays alive because of the kids’ quips.”
—Recommended, CM Magazine
“… With poems, silly songs, tweets and blogs, the trio records the trip and offers a delightful way to learn about vast, varied, and surprising Canada.”
—The Calgary Sun

Librarian Reviews

Hey Canada!

Two new non-fiction titles have fictional narrative threads that make the books bubble with excitement. In Hey Canada! and Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More: The Eco-Journal of Corry Lapont, the books’ young female narrators set out on fact-finding journeys with interesting similarities. In Hey Canada!, nine-year old Alice journals on a netbook as she crosses our nation with her jesting Gran, her cousin Cal and his mischievous hamster. Corry, the narrator of Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More: The Eco-Journal of Corry Lapont, creates a global postcard scrapbook about the fascinating structures she has researched, supported by her engineer parents and playfully encouraged by her younger brother.

Shifting the role of information downloader from character to character keeps the books fresh and fast moving. Both books offer quick facts — knowledge nuggets from the data-loving male characters. Cal, “The Official Fact Dispenser” in Hey Canada!, Tweets his impressions of haggis and dulse. In Earth-Friendly Buildings, Corry’s younger brother, Riley “The Factoid Finder,” spouts speech bubbles that insist readers “Listen to this!” The adults have their roles, too. Corry’s mom suggests one of the super interesting challenges as readers are urged to test “the strongest pier shape for a bridge.” Gran in Hey Canada! lists things for her grandchildren, as well as readers, to observe as they visit each province and territory.

Visuals are key to amping up the cool factor in each book. The themes of sibling / cousin rivalry offer fun fodder galore to talented illustrators Milan Pavlovic (Hey Canada!) and Stephen MacEachern (Earth-Friendly Buildings). Their characters also beam at readers from comic-strip-style chapterettes (“Fortress Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island, 1745” in Hey Canada! and “The Locks of the Rideau Canal” in Earth-Friendly Buildings). Again, ‘mixing it up’ is the theme of the books, and drawings are interspersed with photographs. In the text next to the shiny, eye-catching image of London’s pickle-shaped Swiss Re tower in Earth-Friendly Buildings, readers learn that the building has no parking spaces for cars, “But it has lots of parking for bicycles!” Most of the photographs in Hey Canada! are small or murky and, therefore, miss an opportunity to hook readers or give clear pictorial information. However, Hey Canada! has well-done maps, features that Earth-Friendly Buildings could have used to help readers situate its dykes and domes.

Both authors have polished their skills through the publication of numerous non-fiction titles — which is evident in both their writing and their selection of facts. Earth-Friendly Buildings author Etta Kaner’s background as a teacher helps her understand which facts are appealing to young readers. Vivien Bowers, who has masterfully delivered Can-con in Wow Canada! and other Canadianthemed books, tackles her beloved topic with pep in Hey Canada! These wonderful non-fiction books inspire children of all reading abilities and interests to follow the fictional narrator’s examples and become adventurers exploring the world.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2012. Volume 35 No. 3.

Hey Canada!

Gran is taking Alice and Cal on a road trip across Canada. With a combination of poems, songs, tweets, blogs, cartoons, maps and photos, the trio record their trip for readers everywhere to share. The gang offers a delightful way to learn about Canada’s fascinating history, founders, landmarks, nature and geography.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Spring, 2012.

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