This set, a general encyclopedia with more than 700 entries arranged alphabetically, is intended to introduce children to reference skills as well as to help them develop proficiencies in research and writing. The volumes are 64 pages in length and were designed with young students in mind. For example, the U.S. entry includes volume and page numbers for all of the entries on individual states. The layout is simple and straightforward and includes large print that would be appealing to upper-elementary students. Most of the entries range in length from one to two pages. The writing is clear and should be accessible to students in grades three and above. The intended audience is grades three through six.
Each begins with a brief definition and concludes with a list of see also references to other related topics in the set. Two additional cross-referencing devices are used: see references (scorpion see Arachnid) and "Look in the Index for" references that point the student to information contained within entries. For example, there is no entry for Charles Darwin, but a "Look in the Index for" reference in the spot where a Darwin entry would be instructs the user to look up Darwin in the index. Some of these references are awkwardly placed, so they may not be clear to the encyclopedia's intended audience. Each volume concludes with a comprehensive index.
Entries are enhanced with color photographs, illustrations, diagrams, time lines, and maps. The picture captions supplement the text nicely. Special boxes cover specific subjects in extra detail. The types of boxed information include "Key Facts," "Did you know?" "Amazing Facts," and "Biography," the last of which introduces certain important personalities. The "Key Facts" boxes provide facts and figures about U.S. states, U.S. presidents, Canadian provinces, countries, and planets. "Did you know?" boxes offer detailed information about a broad variety of topics, and "Amazing Facts" boxes highlight fun or interesting facts about the natural world and modern technology. The text also includes a special set of articles intended to help students with their reports. These include Book report, Debating, Grammar, Note taking, Punctuation, Research, and Revision.
This set provides a solid introduction to general topics for students in the primary grades, though it will not provide enough information to meet the research needs of older students. Nevertheless, it would be a useful addition to public and school libraries. RBB
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From School Library Journal:
Grade 3-6–Due to the brevity of the articles, this set is most suitable for browsing. In addition, simplified generalizations can result in an incomplete or misleading picture. For example, in a discussion of the people of the Caribbean the text states, "The original Indian inhabitants of the islands died out soon after the arrival of European settlers." No further explanation is given as to why or how this tragedy occurred. Prominent see-also references and a set index at the back of each book seem helpful at first glance, but may bewilder and frustrate inexperienced encyclopedia users. Youngsters interested in monkeys will have to use the index, which refers them to three different volumes. If they persevere, they will be rewarded with a few pages under "Primates." Under lightning, the index leads students to nothing more than a captioned etching of Ben Franklin and his famous kite under the subject heading "Science." The slim volumes include colorful photographs, reproductions, time lines, maps, and sidebars. Boxed facts and figures, fun details, and mini-biographies of key individuals will appeal to browsers. Though the volumes are numbered and show a letter range on the spine, the divisions may confuse. While volume one covers "AB-AN," volume two spans "AN-BA," making it difficult to decide which book contains "animal" without checking the covers. The World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia (World Book, 2003) is a better choice for students as it employs simpler language, larger type, and more listings, including popular holidays.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
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