This volume adds to the large body of nonfiction series titles aiming to satisfy the ubiquitous social studies standards and benchmarks of elementary school curricula. Each page contains an item for a letter of the alphabet. Some, like "art," are generic, while others, like "British India," and "Odissi" (a dance form), are quite specific to the region's history and cultures. Exemplifying "x" with "extremes" is an obvious compromise. Some pages list an additional "fast fact," which extends the idea on the page for that letter of the alphabet. The digitally created illustrations offer an array of forms and virtual textures but are, alas, not always accurate: The "L" page ("languages") shows Hindi vowels being written correctly on a board, but in a variation of the English vowel sequence (a e i o u) rather than the short-long vowel sequence far more likely to be used in a Hindi class. It is hard to say where the student's headdress and the teacher's draped dress are from, but they are not likely to be found in an Indian classroom. In general, any resemblance to the Indian sari in the illustrations is purely coincidental. The film shoot on the other hand seems quirky and authentic, even though Mumbai dwellers might be irked at having their movie industry referred to as "New Hollywood." What titles like this point to is the persisting need for authentic contemporary picture books with Indian settings. Enough of those might perhaps render such alphabet soups redundant. Back matter includes an index, a glossary, country facts, resources, and a list of common Hindi phrases. This book is part of the "Country ABCs" series. 2006, Picture Window Books/Capstone Press, Ages 8 to 12.
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.