Rare Book Now Part of Library and Archives Canada Children's Literature Collection

On the occasion of International Children's Book Day, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) recently acquired a rare children's picture book written in 1945 about Canadian soldiers in Holland.

LAC purchased the book, Hi Ha Canada, on March 7, 2008, from the Antiquariaat Gemilang bookstore in Bredevoort, The Netherlands. It was selected because it reflects the important role of the Canadian army during the Second World War and it adds to LAC's vast collection of books about Canada. Few children's books describe the celebrations at the end of a war, especially in terms of Canada's role. The book's superb craftsmanship, excellent condition, rare paper and limited edition make it a treasure for collectors.

"This book is a rare gem," said Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. "The use of illustration and rhyming verse in this publication gives us fascinating information about the Dutch people's perception of Canada as liberator during the Second World War. Hi Ha Canada is a fine addition to LAC's Children's Literature Collection."

The book was written by Mart Kempers, an award-winning Dutch graphic designer, illustrator and painter who was interested in creating atmospheric rather than realistic depictions of scenes. The story illustrates details of daily life such as friends playing together, and a family in a garden having tea with Welfare biscuits and chocolate bars given to the Dutch during food rationing by Canadian soldiers. The Canadian maple leaf is prominent and street scenes depict traditional pastimes and architectural elements including gabled roofs. There is a sense of wonderment and happiness conveyed throughout the book, using text and imaginative artwork.

LAC's Children's Literature Service contains over 150,000 books published in English, French and other languages, a world-class reference collection, and a significant collection of literary archives and original children's book illustrations. In 1967, the International Board on Books for Young People declared April 2 as International Children's Book Day to celebrate the love of reading and to call attention to children's books.