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Children's LiteratureTextbooks for early learners are a dubious proposition at best and the "Communities" series of Pebble Books only reinforces one's doubts on the subject. The small, almost-square format is appropriate for small hands, but the contents of the books is less than engaging with their brief sentences opposite an illustrative but lackluster color photo. Most social studies curricula introduce young children to communities with a study of their own neighborhood; surely some local walks, visits to nearby businesses, and other appropriate field trips would offer a much more vivid look at life in a smaller city. This title does show a few picturesque streets and includes children (but no ethnic diversity) in some photos, but there is not much here to prompt a reader's second look. Teachers could more profitably assemble a collection of picture books set in diverse communities—for life in a small town, try Joseph Slate's Miss Bindergarten Takes a Field Trip with Kindergarten (Puffin, 2001), Takaaki Nomura's Grandpa's Town (Kane/Miller, 1992) or Dav Pilkey's The Paper Boy (Orchard, 1996). While the publisher dutifully relates this series to "social studies standards" and suggests teaching the use of a table of contents, a glossary, and an index, a pedestrian series of this nature is not necessary to do that. Teachers and librarians with scarce resources would be better off relying on their own creativity and the talents of writers and illustrators with something significant to say about life in a community. 2005, Capstone, Ages 4 to 7.
—Barbara L. Talcroft