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Children's LiteratureThe newly inaugurated "World Art & Culture" series currently explores India, Africa, Japan and Mexico. Geared for middle school libraries, the volumes sport bright reinforced bindings and back matter of further resources, glossaries, and indices. The content has been standardized: one establishing map followed by brief synopses of architecture, textiles, painting, various crafts, music and/or theatre and film, and cross-currents—which briefly attempt to explain influences to other cultures. The volume on Japan flows more smoothly than the others, from painting into woodblock prints, sculpture and pottery—perhaps because of the very unity of these elements within Japanese culture. It's good to see the seminal western potter Bernard Leach given a nod, though under cross-currents the critical influence of Whistler in introducing Japanese influences to the West is ignored in favor of the bigger name Impressionists. Finally, this volume—and the others—lacks a second, critical map: one which would site the historically and architecturally significant regions being described. Still, the effort is a reasonable beginning for addressing in more depth a subject usually rushed over in most country surveys. 2003, Raintree, Ages 10 to 14.
— Kathleen Karr