Children's Literature - Mary Sue PreissnerThe author has done a good job trying to simply explain the recent tumultuous, and confusing events that have occurred in this African nation in the latter part of this century. The text often refers to both the country and a variety of geographic features by using both names currently in use and those from the most recent past when the Democratic Republic of the Congo was known as Zaire. Political and physical maps and a quick facts section compliment the topics of geography, history, government, economy, people, lifestyle, religion, language, arts and leisure, festivals, and food. A variety of colorful illustrations accompany the easy to read text. However, more should have been written about the country's history before European influence. In an attempt to fully convey the dire circumstances of the country and its people, the author's tone could be interpreted as patronizing. "Culture of the World" series. Glossary, bibliography, index.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5-9Working within the series format, Heale and Whyte illustrate the striking difference an authors attitude can make. Both books cover the geography, history, government, economy, people, lifestyle, religion, language, arts and leisure, festivals, and food of the individual country. Each page includes an illustration, usually a full-color photograph, and each volume includes both a political and physical map of the country and quick facts. Both describe poor countries with a history of civil war and political instability. However, the condescending tone in Congo is reminiscent of accounts from the colonial period. Heale notices what a foreigner might notice: the country has some of the worst roads in the world, high humidity that can make visitors feel dizzy and sick, and quotes an 1887 visitor about the feeling of hatred the river inspires. He describes the equatorial forest as so thick and inhospitable to humans that it is virtually impenetrable but later on the same page mentions that the elusive Pygmy peopleslip easily through the tangled jungle growth. He dismisses the history of the Congo before European exploration in a single paragraph, and deals with indigenous beliefs in a section entitled Superstition. On the other hand, Whyte writes of the culture of Bangladesh in a sympathetic, nonjudgmental tone. Several pages are devoted to the rich history of this new nation; the importance of the emperor Asoka, who embraced Buddhism, and Nobel Prize-winner Rabindranath Tagore are made clear. She discusses in some detail the monsoon-related seasonal cycle and the duties of Muslims, using Bengali terms. Its an attractive and informative source on Bangladesh and its culture.Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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