CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 2 . . . . September 22, 2000
N is for natural structures. Natural structures are not built by people. They are a part of nature. Many natural structures are living things. They need water, food, and air to survive. Your body is a natural structure. It is made up of tiny cells. Cells grow, change, and die. All living structures are made of cells. Some are made up of just one, and others have millions of cells. (Everyday Structures from A to Z, p.19.)Everyday Structures From A to Z and Sports From A to Z are two titles in Bobbie Kalman's new series," AlphaBasiCs." As the titles imply, each book covers its subject in an alphabetical format. Many different applications of the term "structure" are discussed in Everyday Structures, including famous structures, measuring structures, underground structures, towers and wheels. As only a page, occasionally two, is devoted to each subtopic, the text is brief but informative and interesting. Children should find the vocabulary (e.g.. "symmetrical," "stalactites," "dome," "texture") stimulating.
Sports From A to Z discusses a variety of sports, among them basketball, gymnastics, lacrosse, and the martial arts. The text, however, is lacking in content and interesting vocabulary. Readers are only given a short introduction to each sport, and there is little to lead them to further exploration of the topic if they were not already interested in it.
Everyday Structures proceeds in a logical fashion beginning with a definition of the term in "About Structures," followed by an investigation of common structures and then to less likely ones. There are moments when Kalman stretches to maintain her alphabetical pattern (e.g. "E is for everyday structures. Everyday, everywhere you look, you see structures."). Sports From A to Z begins with a short discussion of "Active" before working its way through the different sports.
The illustrations of both books are appropriate and appealing. For some readers, Sports From A to Z's cover illustration of a snowboarder will be instantly appealing. The photographs throughout the book have a similar quality as they show exciting moments and interested people. The illustrations in Everyday Structures, whether they be drawings or photographs, expand upon the textual information and enhance the reader's understanding of "structure" as referring to more than buildings. Both books have a table of contents, a glossary, and an index - all easily used by the reader.
Neither of these books is a "must-have" book for every collection. They have a specific audience. In a classroom setting, either book could be a departure point for an exploration of the given topic. Everyday Structures would be a very good discussion starter because of the numerous questions found throughout the text. Sports From A to Z will appeal to reluctant readers, particularly boys, because of its easy text and appealing photographs.
Recommended with reservations.
Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher living in Old Perlican, Newfoundland.
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