CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Jean-Claude Corbell and Adriane Archambault

Toronto, Stoddart Publishing, 1989. 160pp, cloth, $19.95
ISBN 0-7737-2375-7. CIP

Grades 1 to 3/Ages 6 to 8
Reviewed by Theo Hersh.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

Children love to know the names of things. The Stoddart Junior Visual Dictionary is a response to their question, "What is this thing called?" It is clearly laid out with objects grouped thematically. The accurately reproduced colour illustrations are functional. It is, overall, an attractive book.

But problems abound. Questions such as (1) in how much depth should an item be labelled, (2) what model best represents a group, and (3) how much information should be provided in a category have been inconsistently resolved in this pictorial work.

For example, the illustration of the knife under the "House" category has nine different labelled parts, whereas the sleeping bag in the "Sports" category has none. What dog best represents all dogs? A Labrador retriever, a St. Bernard or a chihuahua? Only twelve animals are presented as "wild animals" in the "Animal Kingdom" section, but on the page labelled "continents" in the "Earth" section, both the continents and major bodies of water are labelled. Is this not confusing to a child who is just learning geography?

In many ways this is a very frustrating book to view. It is fun to thumb through it to discover the exact word for an object or its parts - even a knife - but the dictionary's inconsistencies ultimately cause it to be a flawed reference tool.

Theo Hersh, Toronto Public Library, Toronto, Ont.
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