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Children's LiteraturePart of the "Fact Finders: Questions and Answers: Countries" series, this text is suggested for use with students in grades two to five, a considerable age span embracing many disparities in reading ability and interests. With twelve questions, each answered in two pages, the books in the series stick mostly to basic facts about usual social studies topics like government, industries, families, arts, sports, holidays, and foods. Each topic is illustrated with one clear color photo, but the text is cursory, the most glaring omissions occurring in the fields of history and politics. In this title, for example, readers will learn nothing about the Mayan culture and ruins, or the murderous civil wars and political violence extending into the 90s. Nor is there a hint of Guatemala's ecological problems or its notoriety as a corridor for drugs and money laundering. The overall impression one receives of life in this Central American country is that the population is poor, rural, and undereducated. What is relevant and interesting to fifth graders, of course, may well be inappropriate for primary students, thus illustrating the main problem with a series of this kind. A page of "Guatemala Fast Facts," a traceable flag, a map, and a few Spanish expressions are among the extra features. For websites, the bibliography relies on Facthound, whose sites, on examination, turn out to offer information more suitable for older students. Teachers will find this series most useful, if at all, as a quick reference to facts or for clues to further research. 2006, Capstone, Ages 7 to 10.
—Barbara L. Talcroft