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Children's LiteratureThe opening spread reads, "Buongiorno! (bohn-JOOR-no)" and goes on to explain how people in Italy greet each other plus a few other interesting facts about Italy. Italy is famous for its ancient cities and beautiful art. It has more tourists visit each year than its own population. This first page also shows where Italy is on a map of Europe. After this brief introduction, the alphabet part of the book begins with "A is for art." and "B is for boot-shaped." Each double-paged spread features two letters of the alphabet prominently displayed in upper and lower case, a short sentence in a large bold font, a brief paragraph explaining more about the topic, and a tiny "Fast Fact" section with a bit of trivia on the same subject. Some of the words chosen are refreshingly fun. "E is for Etna," refers to Mount Etna, one of Italy's active volcanoes. "K is for kingdom," refers to the division of Italy into Kingdoms of Venice, Rome, Sardinia, and Naples. "S is for scooters," refers to the most popular form of transportation on Italy's narrow streets. As in most alphabet books, the "x" word, "export," does not begin with that letter but sounds like it does. Any time an Italian word is mentioned, the phonetic pronunciation follows in brackets. The colorful illustrations are in a fun, loose, sketchy style, reminiscent of books published in the fifties. The back matter contains a "Quick Facts" section, an Italian pronunciation guide for a few words, a small bibliography, some web sites, a glossary, and an index. This book is part of Picture Window Books' "Country ABCs" series, which includes the books about Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Israel, Italy, Japan,Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, and The United States. 2006, Picture Window Books, Ages 5 to 9.
—Sally J. K. Davies