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Children's LiteratureWhat's the best place in the world to live? Canada! According to this volume of the "Cultures of the World" series, Canada is finally coming into its own as a vibrant, multicultural country. Too bad the book, in format and writing style, is rather bland. It covers topics from geography (which could benefit from some maps for clarity) and government to festivals and food in straightforward but uninspiring prose and numerous color photos varying from small and adequate to several larger, more striking ones. One odd mistake: a picture captioned as preschool children on a field trip is a repeat of another showing adults having a drink in Vancouver. To its credit, the book contains a chapter on the arts and gives adequate coverage to Canada's indigenous people who, readers will learn, have been granted an Arctic province of their own to govern. In the section titled "Canadians," the author discusses the first peoples and the many immigrants who have changed Canada's face; "Languages" helps clarify the use of two official Canadian languages and their differences from British English and French in France. "Food" stresses the abundance of produce and fresh seafood, as well as the emergence of a more sophisticate cuisine, at least in Toronto and the provinces of Quebec and British Columbia. Unfortunately, the two recipes included consist of fat-rich, empty calories. Although the book impresses mainly as a source for reports, it does contain considerable information and suggests a number of leads for further research. 2004, Benchmark/Marshall Cavendish, Ages 12 to 16.
—Barbara L. Talcroft