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Canadian Railroad Trilogy

by Gordon Lightfoot
illustrated by Ian Wallace

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railroads & trains, popular
list price: $24.95
edition:Hardcover
published: 2010
ISBN:9780888999535
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
4 to 100
Grade:
k to 17
Reading age:
4 to 100
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Community Reviews and Comments
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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Canadian Railroad Trilogy

Bring one iconic song about an important chapter in Canadian history written by a Canadian folk legend together with artwork completed by one of Canada’s finest author-illustrators. The result is a glorious publication which should find its way into numerous personal and public libraries from coast to coast to coast. The music and lyrics to “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” written by Gordon Lightfoot in 1967 to mark Canada’s centennial year, tell of the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s and how it brought our nation together. Although the benefits to the Canadian economy and employment were many, Lightfoot did not neglect to highlight the devastation on the Métis and First Nations people who lost their traditional way of life.

How does one begin to illustrate this sweeping historical epic, told so movingly through Gordon Lightfoot’s haunting lyrics? Ian Wallace writes, “For me, this is a song and a book about a dream... The medium had to capture that dream and, as important, the magnificent but daunting landscape over which the railway was built. It also had to evoke subtle elements like steam, mist, fog, and wolves’ hot breath, as well as rocky terrain and surfaces of steel.” Using handmade chalk pastels, Wallace completed 27 stirring illustrations portraying panoramic landscapes, as well as the people who built the railroad and the indigenous people it displaced. It is obvious that Wallace did a great deal of research on this topic, and his artwork complements the composer’s words beautifully while conveying his own personal vision of that time long ago. Also included in the book are Lightfoot’s music, Wallace’s informative notes on his work, and a brief history of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Readers who take the time to savour the stirring words and illustrations in Canadian Railroad Trilogy will be swept back to an era when Sir John A. Macdonald’s dream — a wondrous, daring vision — became reality and joined together this great nation. This publication is a major accomplishment that will educate and inspire children, as well as adults, about a seismic event in Canadian history. Highly recommended!

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2010. Volume 33 No. 4.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Canadian Railroad Trilogy

Highly acclaimed, award-winning illustrator Ian Wallace brings Gordon Lightfoot’s beloved song to visual life with his sweeping landscapes and evocative portrayals of the people who lived the building of the railroad. This book includes Gordon Lightfoot’s music and lyrics, a brief history of the railroad, notes on the illustrations and further reading.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.

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Awards
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, Starred Selection
  • Long-listed, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable Information Book Award
  • Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List
  • Short-listed, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets
  • Commended, Resource Links' Year's Best
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Description

Nominee for the 2012 Silver Birch Express Award in the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Program

This lavishly illustrated book brings Gordon Lightfoot's heart-stirring song, "Canadian Railroad Trilogy," to readers young and old.

The song was commissioned by the CBC in 1967 to mark Canada's centennial year and it has been a classic ever since. It eloquently describes the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway -- "an iron road runnin' from the sea to the sea" -- a great feat of nation building that changed Canada forever for good and for ill, as in the process many people died and were dispossessed of their land.

Highly acclaimed, award-winning illustrator Ian Wallace brings the song to visual life with his sweeping landscapes and evocative portrayals of the people who lived the building of the railroad -- from the financiers in the east to First Nations people across the country to the thousands of navvies themselves, many of whom came from as far away as China.

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Contributor notes

Gordon Lightfoot, Canada's most famous folk singer, songwriter and guitarist, received international acclaim with songs such as "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" and "If You Could Read My Mind." A great number of his songs have been recorded by well-known artists. He has won many awards, including seventeen Junos and the Governor General's Award, and he has been nominated for five Grammys. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor, and a member of the Order of Ontario, the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Ian Wallace is one of Canada’s best-known children’s book creators. He has published many classics, including Boy of the Deeps and Chin Chiang and the Dragon’s Dance. His illustrations for Canadian Railroad Trilogy and Just So Stories have each received three starred reviews. His most recent book is The Curiosity Cabinet.

Ian has won the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award and the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, among others. He has been nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Governor General’s Award and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

Ian lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife, Deb.

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Editorial Reviews

...heart-stirring...

— Calgary Sun

...Ian Wallace...has produced illustrations worthy of Lightfoot's song in their intensity, evocative power, and shifting moods...[a] beautiful book...

— Quill and Quire, STARRED REVIEW

The atmospheric illustrations ... capture not only the workers’ toil but also the splendor of the Canadian landscape and, obliquely, the price the displaced First Nations people paid for steam-train technology.

— Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

...masterful...

— Bayviews

This lavishly illustrated book brings Gordon Lightfoot’s heart-stirring song “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” to readers young and old...Ian Wallace brings to the song visual life with his sweeping landscapes and evocative portrayals of the people who lived the building of the railroad.

— Books For Everybody

...masterful...

— Bayviews

...generate[s] an interesting discussion with young learners about how railroad construction has contributed to economic development through the movement of people, goods, and even information across long distances.

— Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

Well worthwhile for all Canadian school libraries!

— Canadian Teacher Magazine

...certain to inspire discussions between older readers and younger listeners about how Canada came to be.

— Guelph Mercury

This volume would be a perfect addition to a unit on Canadian history or the building of the railway for any age group...Well worthwhile for all Canadian school libraries!

— Canadian Teacher Magazine

Although some paintings show the railway in detail, it's less a book about railroads than it is about the history and settlement of Canada itself....a huge and unusual project, and Wallace has executed it with admirable care.

— Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Wallace lovingly recreates the country from coast to coast. From sketches of the mountains to the Prairies to the Maritimes, the book could almost be used as a tourist brochure.

— National Post

In this marvellous and yes, iconic, book, Wallace succeeds in both honouring Lightfoot's song and replaying it in a most original way.

— Globe and Mail

I don't know of another more skilled Illustrator who could have done justice to these amazing words than award-winning illustrator Ian Wallace. The visuals are just jaw-dropping spectacular!...Highly recommended.

— CM Magazine

Highly recommended.

— CM Magazine

"Although some paintings show the railway in detail, it's less a book about railroads than it is about the history and settlement of Canada itself....a huge and unusual project, and Wallace has executed it with admirable care." — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
"The atmospheric illustrations ... capture not only the workers’ toil but also the splendor of the Canadian landscape and, obliquely, the price the displaced First Nations people paid for steam-train technology." — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
"...Ian Wallace...has produced illustrations worthy of Lightfoot's song in their intensity, evocative power, and shifting moods...[a] beautiful book..." — Quill and Quire, STARRED REVIEW

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