A map on the first page locates France both in Europe and the world. Also on the first page is FAST FACTS, which appear throughout the book (an example: France is the most visited country in the world. About 70 million tourists travel to France each year.). From Art to Zoe the book is a source of brief informative facts about such topics as De Gaulle, Hugo, Joan of Arc, and Napoleon, but the seeker of in-depth knowledge will be disappointed. The difficulty of the attractive alphabet format lies in the uneven quality of information that can be molded to fit individual letters. The title appropriately limits the subject matter: this is not "France A to Z." Phonetic spelling of several examples, such as "Y is for yaourt (yow-out)," is helpful and might well have been extended to Guerande, Versailles, Bastille, and other topics. There is little information about the everyday life of the French people. Unanswered are such questions as, "Where do people work and what do they do?", "Does home life differ from that in other countries?", and "What are their schools like?" There are a number of helpful features: "France in Brief" lists industries, holidays, and exports; "Say it in French" lists several common words in French with phonetic pronunciation; a glossary defines key words; and "To Learn More" gives both library and Web sources to be pursued. The index is sometimes misleading: "French Revolution" has three listings--Bastille Day, flag, and Napoleon. The "B is for Bastille Day" gives no hint of what the Bastille is or why it is a cause for celebration. The "Napoleon" entry mentions the Arc de Triomphe but that important monument is not pictured or identified. The flag is pictured, however,and the colors are explained. The 9" x 12" size and the profuse illustrations suggest "Picture Book," but this is not a primary level vocabulary. It is a satisfying intermediate book for reading and research. This book is part of the "Country ABCs" series. 2006, Picture Window Books/Capstone, Ages 5 to 11.
K-Gr 3-These books are colorfully illustrated, but the information is trivial and often incomplete. Unlike Justine and Ron Fontes's France, India, and Italy (all Children's Press, 2003), the words for each letter are not standardized across the set, but unique to each title. While this may increase creativity, it also results in inconsistency and in some odd choices (in France, "K is for Kilogram"; in Italy, Leonardo da Vinci is discussed and depicted twice, under "A is for Art" and "Ll"). The maps are totally inadequate, ignoring most of the cities, regions, and geographical features mentioned in the texts. The titles conclude with brief facts, general phrases, and glossaries. Younger students to whom these are read won't understand much of the content, while those old enough to use the books on their own should be referred to the "What's It Like to Live In-?" series (McGraw-Hill) or the "First Reports" series (Compass Point).-Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.