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April 23, 2014

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Reference Reviews: August 2012

BAKER, William & Kenneth Womack. The Facts On File Companion to Shakespeare. 5 vols. 2156p. (Facts On File Library of World Literature Series). appendix. bibliog. glossary. illus. index. maps. Facts On File. 2012. PLB $375.00. ISBN 978-0-8160-7820-2; LC 2010054012. Online: Infobase eBooks
Gr 10 Up–Students and general readers with an interest in Shakespeare will benefit from the array of texts covered and the clear and concise essays and explanations of the Bard’s works provided here. The set opens with several background essays discussing, among other topics, Shakespeare’s life and the cultural and political climate in which he lived and worked. Other essays tackle his language (a potential rocky issue for novice readers) and the controversy still surrounding authorship of his works. These essays are only a substantive prelude to the assistance the work offers in deciphering and truly getting a firm grasp on Shakespeare’s characters and themes: the rest of the volumes discuss each major poem and all of the plays credited to the man. Although the texts are not included, a synopsis of all of the action is, as are sections on “key passages” and “difficult passages” (likely to be well used), characters studies, and both classic and recent critical analyses. A thorough bibliography completes each analysis. This collection is a must-have for all public and school libraries. A serious, accessible discussion of Shakespeare’s works and tools for the future study of it.–Carol Fazioli, Barth Elementary School, Pottstown, PA

FRANCESCHETTI, Donald R. Applied Science. 5 vols. 2172p. appendix. bibliog. charts. chron. diags. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. CIP. Salem Press. 2012. PLB $595. ISBN 978-1-58765-781-8; LC 2012002375. Online: Salem Science database, eBooks on EBSCOhost, Follett Library Resources, ebrary, Gale Virtual Reference Library, MyiLibrary, Overdrive
Gr 8 Up–Designed to illuminate the scientific principles and processes that underpin modern technology, this resource offers approximately 300 substantial surveys of topics ranging from “Archaeology” to “Apiology” and from “Food Preservation” to “Microlithography and Nanolithography.” Each article opens with summary information including key concepts and relevant fields of scientific study, then goes on to lay out in relatively specific detail the topic’s history, fundamental processes, applications in industry and daily life, typical career paths, and future directions. Each cross-referenced piece also features a box of “Fascinating Facts” (“Fascinating Facts About Sports Engineering”), annotated further-reading recommendations, and lists of important websites. Appendixes in volume five include a biographical dictionary of scientists, a time line (to 2010) of technological milestones, an index of general categories, and a massive bibliography. Though the black-and-white photographs and other illustrations are small and exceedingly rare, the extensive topical index inconveniently appears only in the last volume, and in breadth of coverage this can’t compare to the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (McGraw-Hill, 10th ed., 2007), the thoughtful, systematic entries provided here will amply reward serious students. The print edition comes with access to the full content in the “Salem Science” online database.–John Peters, Children’s Literature Consultant, New York City

JOST, Kenneth. The Supreme Court A to Z. 668p. (American Government A to Z Series). bibliog. charts. chron. illus. index. photos. reprods. websites. CIP. CQ Press. 2012. PLB $125.00. ISBN 978-1-6087-1744-6. LC 2012000642. Online: CQ Press Electronic Library
Gr 9 Up–The coverage in this volume on the highest court in the land ranges from specific court cases to legal terminology and from biographical profiles to a broader look at the Court in the contexts of history and society. Entries–more than 350 of them, alphabetically arranged–are supplemented with factoids, pull quotes, informatively captioned black-and-white photographs, and cross-references. Several appendixes detail historic milestones and Supreme Court nominations and provide a seat chart of the justices, the text of the U.S. Constitution, and a list of online sources that offer the full text of decisions. The bibliography is extensive. A significant amount of substantial material is packed into this single volume, and while the small font and snug spacing may be a bit off-putting at first, Jost’s relaxed style makes this a more accessible read than one might expect for the subject matter. A solid purchase.–Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR

The Kingfisher Children’s Encyclopedia . 480p. appendix. charts. chron. diags. illus. index. maps. photos. reprods. websites. Kingfisher. 2012. PLB $29.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6814-2.
Gr 3-8–The colorful entries in this update range from one to four pages in length each, feature full-color illustrations and photos and subheadings in a large, easy-to-read font and sidebars and fact boxes of thought-provoking information. For instance, the three-page entry on dinosaurs includes 10 subheadings ranging from “Lizard or Birdlike” to “Death of the Reptiles.” An accompanying illustration features a comparison between a Tyrannosaurus Rex footprint and that of a man, and a fact box suggests that, “Dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded like mammals and birds.” Other topics include continents and countries, technology, transportation, animal and plant life, religion, and space. Appendixes include a political map of the world; one- to two-sentence biographical summaries of artists, writers, musicians, scientists, inventors, philosophers, and explorers; and U.S. state and presidential statistics. Extensive updating in this edition reflects recent history and developments in science and technology. Libraries in need of a one-volume general reference for children (except report-writers looking for biographical information) should consider this offering. It will help them choose and narrow topics, and will appeal to browsers.–Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools

NAURIGHT, John. Sports Around the World: History, Culture, and Practice. 4 vols. 1558p. bibliog. charts. further reading. illus. index. maps. photos. CIP. ABC-CLIO. 2012. PLB $415. ISBN 978-1-59884-300-2. LC 2011047997. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection
Gr 9 Up–The first three volumes of this set are arranged regionally and then alphabetically. Volume one covers Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania; volume two discusses sports in Europe; and volume three covers Latin America and North America. Students who need background information for research papers or essays (for example: to compare
U. S. soccer with the sport as played in Italy) will appreciate the readable narrative that is presented in a generous-sized font and that includes a short, current further-reading list. Volume four lists winners in various major sporting events such as the Olympic games. This is a general overview that is extremely broad in scope, therefore there is limited detail and no in-depth analysis. Sports growing in popularity that may generate interest, such as lacrosse, or popular names in U.S. sport history, such as former basketball coach John Wooden, are treated in only a few paragraphs or a single page. The black-and-white photographs are infrequent and unfortunately often too small. Additional.—Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

RENARD, John. The Handy Religion Answer Book, 2nd ed. 528p. (The Handy Answer Book Series). chron. further reading. glossary. illus. index. maps. photos. reprods. CIP. Visible Ink Press. 2012. pap. $21.95. ISBN 978-1-57859-379-8. LC 2011050804.
Gr 9 Up–Concise and accessible, this book for lay readers provides elemental, balanced coverage of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism and CCT (Chinese Community Traditions), Shinto, and Confucianism. The author uses a question-and-answer format, with each question appearing in large, bold font, making browsing for a particular topic a breeze. The answers describe history, beliefs, signs and symbols, leadership roles, holidays and other regular observances, and customs and rituals, dispelling stereotypes in the process. Non-English words appear in italics and are defined within the sentence. Updates from the 2001 edition include combining some entries and making room for updated coverage by removing tangential questions. Occasional black-and-white photographs adequately supplement the text, but are otherwise unremarkable. All considered, this is an outstanding resource for those with a general interest in major religions of the modern world.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Library, NC

ROLLYSON, Carl. The Twenties in America. 3 vols. 1067p. (Decades Series). appendix. bibliog. charts. chron. further reading. glossary. index. photos. reprods. CIP. Salem Press. 2012. PLB $395. ISBN 978-1-58765-855-6. LC 2011051370. Online: Salem History database, eBooks on EBSCOhost, Follett Library Resources, ebrary, Gale Virtual Reference Library, MyiLibrary, Overdrive
Gr 9 Up–Including articles about persons, events, movements, and trends that define the era in the U.S. and Canada, this set offers entries on everything from eugenics to flappers. Terms and concepts that may be unfamiliar are often explained within the text. For instance, the U.S. Supreme Court entry provides a brief explanation of “substantive due process” in relation to the legal rights of businesses. Entries may be short articles or longer overviews. The “Impact” section at the conclusion of each signed piece elevates this material beyond the usefulness of traditional reference sets. It succinctly details the enduring importance of each topic, which will help students to focus and to write meaningful thesis statements. Entries end with further-reading suggestions and a generous cross-reference list. Black-and-white period photographs flesh out many topics, and volume three includes useful appendixes such as lists of period musicians, literature, and legislation. The purchase of the print set includes multi-user online access to all content through the Salem History database.—Patty McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA

WALTERS, Kerry . The Underground Railroad: A Reference Guide. 226p. (Guides to Historic Events in America Series). appendix. bibliog. chron. CIP. further reading. illus. index. maps. notes. photos. reprods. ABC-CLIO. 2012. PLB $58.00. ISBN 978-1-59884-647-8; LC 2011041517. Online: ABC-CLIO eBook Collection
Gr 8 Up–A conversational tone makes this an engaging cover-to-cover read as well as a solid work for reference; it features gripping stories of fugitives and abolitionists within a factual overview. The time line ranges from 1619, when the first slaves arrived in Jamestown aboard a Dutch ship, to 1870, when the 15th amendment granted voting privileges to black men and the Underground Railroad was officially shut down. Beginning with a broad survey of slave resistance and revolt, Walters explains how abolitionists, clergy, and others felt that the “higher law” of justice, right, and freedom superseded unjust legislation, and this noble cause fueled support across a broad population. The Underground Railroad is described, not as a highly structured organization but as a functional system of coordinated efforts to move fugitives from one location to another. Primary-source excerpts inform readers that slaves became “packages,” volunteers were “agents,” and safe houses were referred to as “depots.” Specific incidents, such as William “Jerry” Henry’s capture in Syracuse, NY, where a mob of blacks and whites tore down the jailhouse door to free him, are fascinating and illustrate failed attempts to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law. Extensive notes, a chronology, an annotated bibliography, and primary-source material balance the narrative, and a general index points students to key people and events. A handful of captioned black-and-white maps and illustrations appears strategically throughout. The primary sources are the perfect length for supporting the use of informational text in Common Core Standards for both ELA and social studies.–Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia Jr. Sr. High School, NY

WEATHERFORD, Doris. Women in American Politics: History and Milestones. 2 vols. 575p. charts. further reading. illus. index. photos. CIP. SAGE. 2012. PLB $225.00. ISBN 978-1-60871-0-072. LC 2011044100. Online: SAGE Reference Online
Gr 9 Up–Presenting the many roles that women have played in American politics since the country’s founding, this thoroughly researched set opens with the earliest moments in the fight for women’s suffrage. Though female political aspirations began in colonial America and scored a great victory with the passage of the 19th amendment, women’s roles in politics did not end with the right to enter the voting booth. Weatherford goes on to provide great detail on women’s shaping of the political climate in every office from the municipal level of mayor all the way to the highest court in the land. The book contains primary-source material that illuminates major figures. The first 18 chapters, covering such topics as “Female Officeholders Prior to the Nineteenth Amendment,” “Governors and Lieutenant Governors,” and “Interest Groups,” present data, usually in the form of lists of women who served in a particular governmental role; a review of just how women achieved the offices discussed; and biographical information on key female officeholders. The final chapter offers a state-by-state guide. A solid addition.–Wayne R. Cherry, Jr., First Baptist Academy, Houston, TX

WRIGHT, David & Jill Wright. The World Almanac Children’s Atlas . 96p. diags. illus. index. maps. photos. World Almanac Books. 2012. Tr $21.95. ISBN 978-1-60057-156-5.
Gr 2-4–Colorful and well-organized, this beginner’s atlas provides a fun introduction to map-reading. A consistent color-coding scheme is employed throughout the table of contents and page headings to help readers keep continents straight, and the authors maintain interest with full-color, informatively captioned photographs and a variety of international stamps. An overview section entitled “Our Planet Earth” opens the volume. Sections focusing on each continent follow; all begin with an overview that includes topographical and political maps and fact boxes, then launch into spreads that address regions, with some larger countries covered on their own spread. (The United States, in addition to a country page, has state pages arranged by region.) On these pages lies the only flaw in the book’s design; while a section may cover several countries, often only a few are selected to be featured with their flag and basic facts, making it difficult to determine which countries are included in the listing without extensive poring over maps. A section of “Quiz Questions” (many of which seem prohibitively challenging even for adults) and an index close the volume.–Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

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