Children's LiteratureIt's quite a task to capture the essence of a country as large and diverse as India in terms comprehensible to young readers who have no knowledge of the region. This title is among the large number of "countries" series books taking on the challenge. An introductory chapter is titled "Namaste!" after the common north Indian Hindu greeting. Subsequent chapters cover land and weather, history, manufacturing, daily life, festivals and holidays, arts and literature, food, and clothing. A final chapter touches on democracy and the role of technology in commerce and modern life. A glossary consists of unfamiliar English words (e.g., dialects, parliament), each of which is boldfaced the first time it occurs in the text. In contrast Hindi words (the major Indian language addressed in the text) are explained within the text—a consistent and tidy solution to what might otherwise make for a cumbersome glossary. Other backmatter includes a scant three "Did You Know?" facts, a country profile with a photograph of sample currency, a brief timeline of history, a list of print and electronic resources for further reading, and an index. As the series name, "First Reports" suggests, it seems clear that the format is intended as an introduction to this kind of nonfiction book for students just embarking on the ubiquitous "country report." Among other titles in the series are Australia, Chile, Kenya, and Vietnam. India presents a complex blend of information, images and ideas in ways designed to interest young readers. Whether the "country report" bears examining as the preferred way to teach geography at the elementary level is of course another matter entirely. 2003,Compass Point Books, Ages 6 to 9.
School Library JournalGr 2-4-Both of these books begin with an introductory greeting, "Namaste" for India, and "Xin ch o" for Vietnam. Short chapters in large-print texts give a quick overview of the geography, history, daily life, festivals, arts and literature, food, clothing, and present status of each country, with a focus on children's activities. Large, color photos with simple captions are found on each page, but the quality is uneven; several of them are dark or not sharply focused. For example, the dull double-page photo of the Taj Mahal does not show its real splendor. The time lines and indexes are very basic. Although there are no bibliographies, these books are well organized and easy to read, and could be used as additional resources for very simple reports.-Kristina Aaronson, Henniker Community School, NH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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