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Volume VIII Number 12 . . . . February 15, 2002
With a similar format to the "Eyewitness" books, this series provides general information on a variety of subjects. Each book consists of 14 two-page chapters, a table of contents, a glossary and an index. A single large-print paragraph which introduces each new topic is surrounded by specific examples, all of them aptly illustrated and explained. The text is written in simple language that is easy for students to comprehend. Abundant, colourful photographs and drawings match the text.
Clothing and Jewelry features the purpose of clothing (including uniforms and religious garb), materials from which clothing is made, the fashion industry and accessories from footwear to eyeglasses.
Music and Dance discusses the history of music and how technology has changed music over the years. Other topics include instruments and how they are made, types of music, from classical to indigenous, and various venues for music, Broadway musicals, the opera, the cinema and the circus.
Homes includes topics ranging from the building of shelters for different environments to more specific information on the various rooms of a house and their components (walls, floors, doors and windows). In this title, one questions the inclusion of the chapter on families, which discusses types of families, but the facts presented are not always related to homes. Another questionable section occurs under the chapter heading "Homes that Change." It makes reference to homeless people who seek shelter in malls, underpasses and train stations.
Food focuses on the production, preparation and cooking of food all around the world, foods for festivals and other special occasions, spices, beverages and utensils. Eating disorders and other problems related to lifestyle are also mentioned.
Generally, this series provides some interesting reading, but a few of the chapters (and the information within) and photographs are questionable. For example, chapters whose topics are closely related do not always follow one another, and some of the examples of the concepts presented are not necessarily the best choices. (Are oven mitts really "accessories"? Is the best example of "dressing up" a pair of rodeo boots? And, of all possible T-shirts to demonstrate the popularity of these garments, is the T-shirt with Che Guevara's picture something with which young kids can identify?) There are also a couple of suggestive illustrations which are not appropriate for elementary-age students. Just a little bit of revision would go a long way to improve this series which has considerable merit.
Recommended with reservations.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.