The school atlas has maps of the Soviet Union and East Germany, but not Nunavut.
A children's book named Little Toot dates to 1939.
Even Little Toot is newer than a couple of pre-war Dr. Seuss titles - And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins - that line the shelves of the Mayne Island School library.
Not that they're bad books. "The kids still read them," says principal Donna Kirkpatrick. Nonetheless, it would be nice to offer students some reading material that doesn't bear their grandparents' childhood fingerprints.
So, yes, Kirkpatrick was tickled pink to get a $1,000 Raise-a-Reader cheque this week, thanks to the Times Colonist book sale. Her little school was one of 159 recipients splitting a total of $353,550 this year.
It has been five years since Kirkpatrick has been able to put much into the library at the island's only school. The Parent Advisory Council helps, and retired teachers and older students will occasionally augment the collection, but that's pretty much it.
"Being a small school, we don't have the budget," Kirkpatrick said. Any wriggle room disappeared when the photocopier broke this year.
Mayne Island School has 42 students from kindergarten to Grade 8. Like other southern Gulf Islands schools, it is on a four-day week, the fifth day having been lopped in 2004 to save on transportation costs. From Grade 9 on, students take the water taxi to school on Saltspring Island, leaving Miners Bay at 7: 37 a.m., returning at 5: 30 p.m.
The school is a bit tricky to get around, testament to a history that has seen classrooms added and portables taken away as enrolment ebbed and flowed.
Mayne's school closed entirely after the JapaneseCanadian families who made up a third of the population were forced off the island by the federal government during the Second World War. A decade or so ago, when students came from neighbouring islands, there were about 100 students.
Right now, with Mayne's demographic skewing toward retirees - only a quarter of the population is under 45 - enrolment has dipped. "I think that young families are finding it hard to find work and sustain themselves," Kirkpatrick says.
Fun school, though. Full wood shop and teaching kitchen. Teachers work with the local nature conservancy, tromping up Mount Parke for hands-on science lessons on Thursdays. This Monday, the students will tackle their annual beach cleanup at Miners Bay, recording what they find; some of the trash can be traced to the Fraser estuary, whose plume reaches all the way across the strait to Mayne.
Outdoor classrooms are great, but schools still need books. The principal, who also teaches the three R's to intermediate students and is the school's special education teacher, is keen to start shopping. Up-to-date social studies books would be nice. Ditto for some First Nations material. The older kids are eager to choose novels. "We have novels, but they're so old the students can't relate to them," Kirkpatrick says.
More than 100 Vancouver Island schools are putting Times Colonist book sale money to good use this spring. Other recipients range from the Victoria READ Society and Literacy Victoria to Fair Start, a program that distributes school supplies to families who can't afford to buy them.
The 15th edition of the annual book sale is coming up. As usual, all the proceeds will go to further education and literacy on Vancouver Island. More than $1.5 million has been raised since 1998.
You know the drill: Readers are asked to drop off good used books at the Victoria Curling Club, 1952 Quadra St., next Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29, between 9 a.m. and 3: 30 p.m. both days.
Bringing them in boxes or bags that you don't want back would be big help. No encyclopedias, old text books, magazines or Reader's Digest condensed books at next weekend's drop-off, please.
The donated books will be sorted by volunteers before going on sale to the public May 12 and 13. Circle it on your calendar.
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