________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 3. . . .September 18, 2009

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Buddhism. (World Religions).

Mel Thompson.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2004.
57 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55285-653-4.

Subject Heading:
Buddhism-Juvenile literature.

Grades 8-9 / Ages 13-14.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

   

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Christianity. (World Religions).

Alan Brown.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2004.
57 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55285-653-4.

Subject Heading:
Christianity-Juvenile literature.

Grades 8-9 / Ages 13-14.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

   

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Hinduism. (World Religions).

Ranchor Prime.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2004.
57 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55285-655-0.

Subject Heading:
Hinduism-Juvenile literature.

Grades 8-9 / Ages 13-14.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

   

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Islam. (World Religions).

Jan Thompson.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2004.
57 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55285-654-2.

Subject Heading:
Islam-Juvenile literature.

Grades 8-9 / Ages 13-14.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

   

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Judaism. (World Religions).

Ian Graham.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2004.
57 pp., pbk., $12.95.

ISBN 978-1-55285-656-9.

Subject Heading:
Judaism-Juvenile literature.

Grades 8-9 / Ages 13-14.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

   

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Sikhism. (World Religions).

Joy Barrow.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2004.
57 pp., pbk., $12.95.
ISBN 978-1-55285-652-6.

Subject Heading: Sikhism-Juvenile literature.

Grades 8-9 / Ages 13-14.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4

   

excerpt:

In Islam, holy war is called “jihad”, which means “striving.” Muhammad said the Greater Jihad is the struggle in each person to resist evil and the Lesser Jihad is taking up weapons to fight.

Muslims are taught that they should struggle against wrongdoing and oppression, and not just allow it to carry on. They should be prepared to give up everything, even their own lives, for the cause of right. In this sense, all Muslims should be militants- fighting against evil, but not in the sense of being aggressive or necessarily taking up weapons. Someone can struggle against evil in society, for example, through political channels. They can speak out against injustice and make their views heard.(From Islam.)

The six major faiths are featured in the “World Religions” series. Main topics covered include the origins, beliefs, traditions, forms of worship, the various sects or groups within the faith, holidays and celebrations of faith, and the challenges facing the religion today as modern life occasionally clashes with traditional values. Each book begins with a focus on a family that practises the faith. “Debate” boxes pose questions (some of them fairly “safe” and others more controversial) about faith-based issues. One example, taken from Christianity, asks readers to ponder whether or not the Bible should be open to new interpretation while another example, taken from Hinduism, asks whether or not people should believe in an eternal spiritual reality. A table of contents, a glossary and an index are provided as well as a list of books, web sites and organizations for further research. Each title also has a double-page spread entitled “Reference”. This section includes a map of the world indicating the greatest concentration of people of the featured faith, a timeline, and a calendar of major festivals throughout the year. Though the text could probably be read fairly easily by a fifth or sixth grader, there are topics in the books which make them unsuitable for elementary students, some examples being the religions’ views on contraception, abortion, premarital sex, homosexuality, adultery, euthanasia and the use of recreational drugs. Abundant colour pictures, maps, and diagrams, showing the exterior and interior of various houses of worship, enhance the text.

     There are 360 million Buddhists worldwide, most of whom live in Southeast Asia. Begun by an Indian prince who gave up a life of comfort and luxury to live as a poor ascetic, seeking the answer to the problem of suffering, Buddhism encompasses three universal truths: everything changes; everyone and everything in this world is interconnected; and human life is full of suffering because of greed, hatred and ignorance. In Buddhism, readers will learn that Buddhism is more of a philosophy than a religion because there is no god (hence members of other religious groups may also be Buddhists). Instead, followers are encouraged to abide by five precepts- treating others kindly, not stealing, not being greedy, not lying and not abusing drugs or alcohol- and the Noble Eightfold Path. Other topics in this title include the roles of monks and nuns, the three main types of Buddhism, and practices such as meditation, mindful breathing, and making mandalas and offerings. Christianity describes the life and teachings of Jesus and the importance of the Bible, both the Old and New testaments, to this faith. Other topics covered include the parables, the Ten Commandments, the spread of Christianity, the main differences between the various denominations, major holidays such as Christmas and Easter, the seven sacraments, and the importance of doing charitable activities, such as helping the poor, and tithing. Terms such as mass, Eucharist, confession, communion and confirmation are explained. The one small flaw in this title is that the concept of the Trinity is not made very clear.

     Hindus believe in the unity of all life, karma, and reincarnation. In Hinduism, readers will learn about the three functions of God, as personified by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the role that gurus play in the lives of people, and the Hindu way of life. Vegetarianism, prayer and meditation, mantras, ashrams, yoga, forms of worship (these include the temple of the heart and mind, a household shrine, a temple and a pilgrimage), and Hindu rites of passage are also discussed. One interesting aspect of Hinduism which is catching on in the western world is Ayurvedic medicine whose principles espouse balance and prevention as the keys to good health, as well as the use of herbal remedies, massage, yoga and meditation as cures rather than the use of powerful prescription drugs.

     Muslims believe in one God, Allah, whose Messenger was Muhammad. Islam explains the Five Pillars of Islam- belief, prayer, fasting, charity and pilgrimage- as well as the Qur’an (the holy book of Islam), the main branches of Islam, prayer rituals, the importance of pilgrimage, Muslim holidays, such as Id-ul-Fitr, and customs surrounding the birth of a baby, marriage and death. In the chapter devoted to Muslims in the modern world, there is information about Muslims’ views on polygamy, women’s rights, divorce, holy wars, and medical intervention such as artificial insemination and organ transplants.

     Judaism is described, not only as a religion, but also as a way of life, with a history that goes back 4000 years. In Judaism, readers will learn about the three basic principles, God, the Torah and Israel, in addition to the similarities and differences between the Jewish faith and Christianity. Other topics include Jewish laws, traditions such as the Bar Mitzvah, the branches of Judaism, Sabbath observances, the role of the Rabbi, Jewish dietary laws, the calendar, and life on a kibbutz.

     Sikhs believe in one God and that everything, both animate and inanimate, has a consciousness. They are taught to place little importance on temporal things, such as wealth and possessions, and to avoid egocentricism. In Sikhism, there is information about the five symbols of faith worn by Sikhs- the kesh (uncut hair), kangha (comb), kara (iron or steel wrist bangle), kirpan (sword) and kachhehra (knee-lenth baggy shorts)- and the teachings revealed by God to ten men known as gurus, Sikh ceremonies such as the amrit sankskar, and the holy scriptures.

     All of the titles in the series are well-researched and provide many details about each of the faiths. They promote acceptance and cultural awareness and encourage readers to think critically about important issues of faith.

Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a recently retired teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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