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Textural folk art paintings visually exude Mexico in this abecedary. Two- to four-line verses introduce topics from A to Z; wide sidebars for each are packed with interesting facts and anecdotes conveying different aspects of the nation's history, landscape, traditions and beliefs. The format is a good one, allowing readers to focus on Parra's (My Name Is Gabriela) dynamic pictures of birds (e.g., the quetzal), ancient deities, stylized landscapes, iconic figures. The text, however, can be inconsistent. A particularly sappy verse-"O is for Olympic Games/ The world went to Mexico, held hands in brotherhood,/ and for one shining moment knew peace"-is contradicted in the sidebar, which refers to the "bloody result" of a student demonstration before the games. Some verses are meaningless without the sidebar explanation: "N is for Netzahualcóyotl/ There was a golden time once/ when men lived dreams/ and poems bloomed like flowers." The sidebars themselves, fortunately, cover a broad range, including cooking directions for prickly pears and a poem written by Netzahualcóyotl, who turns out to have been 15th-century Texcoco's answer to Leonardo da Vinci. Ages 6-10. (Dec.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.