In hot “green” pursuit of a dream

A review of Etta Kaner’s “Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More: The Eco-Journal of Corry LaPont

By Pamela Lincez

Corry is not your average twelve-year-old girl… she is exceptional! Not only is she pursuing an interest fearlessly, but she’s pursuing an interest not typically shared amongst other girls her age. Corry also has an extraordinary mother Jan LaPont, who is as well, courageous in pursuing her interests. In chasing their curiosity for the structure and function of the world they live in, the LaPont ladies bring to life the excitement of researching engineering and landmark construction. I should mention that the LaPont duo, although they likely resemble other exceptional mother-daughter pairs in reality- are a pair of characters created from the curious mind of Etta Kaner- a celebrated Canadian children’s book writer. In her most recent book “Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More: The Eco-Journal of Corry LaPont” (Kids Can Press, 2012), Etta Kaner introduces her readers to Corry- the daughter of Jan LaPont, a character previously featured in her books “Bridges” and “Towers and Tunnels“.

When asked where she draws inspiration for her books, Kaner replies that she’s “a little like Rudyard Kipling’s Elephant’s Child – “full of satiable curtiosity”. (no, it’s not a typo). I enjoy discovering interesting factual information and finding out how things work.” This joy for discovery, this innate curiosity, is delightfully reflected in Kaner’s character Corry LaPont, who narrates her travels and assembly of her “green” scrapbook: an impressive compilation of mementos depicting environmentally-friendly engineered structures such as tunnels, dams, towers, bridges, locks etc. from across the world. Kaner playfully and clearly defines engineering concepts behind eco-friendly structures such as the Vizcaya Bridge in Spain and the Channel tunnel linking trains traveling between England and France as well as environmental controversies and strategies such as energy and temperature conservation associated with constructing dams and buildings- engaging young readers with cool facts, colourful illustration and humorous dialogue.

Much like her own exceptional desire to pursue knowledge about the ways of the world, Kaner’s character Corry exemplifies the potential of a young girl excited by a complex world of equations, physics and environmental controversy. Corry’s pursuit in her interest of engineering is aspiring for young readers to gain a curiosity for the sometimes heavily technical field. “I would hope that these characters act as role models for female readers as well as show male readers that engineering is not a male domain”- justifies Kaner of her effort to promote Women in Science andTechnology. Although “Earth-Friendly Buildings, Bridges and More: Eco-Journal of Corry LaPont” is geared toward young readers from ages 8 to 12, I believe that adults can draw inspiration from this book as well to bravely pursue a potentially intimidating interest. We must not forget that in life, at any age and regardless of gender, we all have the opportunity to be a part of the process of learning and be exceptional like Corry, chasing our dreams fearlessly.