March 20, 2018

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Book Reviews: Reference | October 2013

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Computer Technology Innovators. 414p. ISBN 978-1-4298-3805-4. LC 2012045266.

—–. Internet Innovators. 464p. ISBN 978-1-4298-3807-8. LC 2012045267.

ea vol: appendix. bibliog. chron. further reading. illus. index. Salem Press. 2013. lib. ed. $95. ebook available.

Gr 9 Up–More than 120 biographies in each of these titles showcase pioneers and current achievers in the world of computer technology and the Internet. Readers will recognize Steve Jobs, Charles Babbage, Bill Gates, and Ada Lovelace as appropriate inclusions in Computer Technology Innovators, and will be intrigued by interesting lesser-knowns such as Charles Simonyi, developer of Microsoft Office, and Helen Greiner, cofounder of iRobot. Internet Innovators focuses on dot-com developers such as Internet founder Vinton Cerf, Ebay’s Pierre Omidyar, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Wikipedia’s Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales. The volumes feature alphabetical access to entries, and individually authored 2,000-word essays on each person (students looking for quick information will find all of the figures briefly described in an appended biographical dictionary). Subsections cover “Early Life,” “Life’s Work,” and “Personal Information” and offer black-and-white sketches instead of photographs. Some entries are supplemented with an inset box synopsizing pertinent information from the general essay, such as details about Arianna Huffington’s sale of the Huffington Post to AOL in February 2011 for $315 million. In general, the narrative writing style will keep students engaged through the entire essay. While Computer Technology Innovators will be a key reference for budding engineers, mathematicians, and computer techies, Internet Innovators is more likely to appeal to business and marketing and communications students. Free access to Salem’s online versions of the works accompanies the print volumes.–Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY

CONDRA, Jill, ed. Encyclopedia of National Dress: Traditional Clothing Around the World. 2 vols. 813p. bibliog. further reading. index. photos. reprods. websites. ABC-CLIO. 2013. Tr $189. ISBN 9780313376368; ebk. ISBN 9780313376375.

Gr 9 Up–Intended for students who need a greater understanding of how individual dress is influenced by culture, available materials, and climate, the information in this set is broken down either by country or by regions that include a few countries. While every nation is not represented, all major cultures of the world are here, covered in 1,500- to 7,000-word articles that offer background information and detail on men’s and women’s dress–explaining the materials used and the various types of clothing observed where more than one ethnic group lives in a country or region. Articles close with lists of mainly print further-reading suggestions. Access is enhanced by the cross-referenced entry guide and the index that allow readers to compare different types of clothing between countries quickly. While its rich, descriptive language attempts to give readers a full picture of dress around the world, the lack of large color illustrations limits this set’s use; the small black-and-white pictures and drawings provided don’t add much. Doreen Yarwood’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Costume (Dover, 2011) covers some of the same material but its alphabetical-by-clothing arrangement makes it less useful for country studies. Valerie Steele’s Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (Scribners, 2004) is mainly set up like Yarwood’s book but presents some information by region. Both also have black-and-white illustrations. Patricia Rieff Anawalt’s The Worldwide History of Dress limits the number of words used, but makes up for that with large color pictures and breaks down the information by region then country. This ABC-CLIO work could be an additional purchase for libraries that have Anawalt’s book.–Ann West LaPrise, Huron School Dist., New Boston, MI

FREEDMAN, Lew. Encyclopedia of Stock Car Racing. 2 vols. 910p. bibliog. further reading. index. photos. Greenwood. 2013. lib. ed. $189. ISBN 978-0-313-38709-8.

Gr 6 Up–Written by a veteran journalist, this hefty compendium kicks off with a 22-page introduction that offers a readable, informative history of NASCAR, ending with the entry for “Yunik, Smokey (May 25, 1923–May 9, 2001).” In between is a feast for fans of stock car racing. From biographies of the famous and the not-so-famous to articles on such disparate topics as restriction plates, the HANS safety device, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, this smorgasbord will resonate with aficionados (and may prove invaluable in settling trivia squabbles). The alphabetically arranged entries range from a few hundred words to several thousand. Each is accompanied by a list of references and a passel of handy “see also” recommendations. While data-full, the text maintains a conversational tone, for the most part, and is larded with quotes and a peck of small black-and-white photos (alas, no candy-apple reds, no Petty blues, no sleek Earnhardt blacks). Also included is a list of cup and race champions. This is a surprisingly good choice for NASCAR fans who want more than to watch races from their recliners, and an enjoyable source for researchers and casual consultants alike.–Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

MERRIAM-WEBSTER.Merriam-Webster’s Elementary Dictionary. 824p. diag. illus. map. photos. reprods. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 2013. lib. ed. $18.95. ISBN 9780877796763. LC 2008041753.

Gr 3-5–This attractive, comprehensive edition features 200 more words than its 2009 predecessor, which is the only significant update. Pronunciation symbols and parts of speech notations accompany each definition, and synonyms and cross-references are included where appropriate. A paragraph in each entry offers the history of the word. For instance, the entry for “fanatic” explains that the word is from the Latin “fanaticus” and meant  “of a temple.” It was not until the 1500s that the word took on its current meaning of “very enthusiastic supporter or admirer.” Like the 2009 edition, this one has more than 1,300 quotes integrated into the entries. The quotes, in blue font, come from more than 100 classic and contemporary children’s books and help contextualize words for students. For instance, “marvel” is accompanied by a quote from Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted: “I had never seen such beautiful illustrations…I turned the pages, marveling.” Occasionally, an entry is featured in a brightly colored “word history” box. At least 900 main entries are accompanied by a full-color illustration. The appendixes include a punctuation guide for writers, a map of the United States and one of the world, and a glossary of geographical names from around the world. A worthy addition.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

NELSON, Murry R., ed. American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. 4 vols. 1573p. bibliog. chron. further reading. index. photos. Greenwood. 2013. Tr $415. ISBN 978-0-313-39752-3. ebook available. LC 2012039243.

Gr 9 Up–This well-organized, cross-referenced set includes 480 entries focused on the intersection of American sports and pop culture from the early 20th century to the present. The entries cover topics ranging from great athletes, teams, and sporting events to films, songs such as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” books, plays such as August Wilson’s Fences, and cultural phenomena such as fantasy leagues and soccer moms. The mostly brief entries are accompanied by black-and-white pictures and references to additional articles or books. The writing is usually concise and objective, if somewhat dry. The wide range of topics (entries under the letter “I,” for example, include the television series I Spy; the Iditarod race; the football play known as the “Immaculate Reception”; and radio shock jock Don Imus) offers food for thought and makes for a readable work. Though the volume is aimed at high school and college students, browsing sports fans may be its biggest audience.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

O’DEA, Suzanne. From Suffrage to the Senate: America’s Political Women; An Encyclopedia of Leaders, Causes and Issues. 3rd. ed. 2 vols. 1520p. appendix. bibliog. chron. index. Grey House. 2013. Tr $225. ISBN 9781619250109.

Gr 9-Up–O’Dea states in the preface that this set includes  “the people, laws, court cases, and organizations that establish or alter women’s relationships to their families, their communities, and the government.” Slightly more than 100 new entries have been added since the second edition (2006), and numerous changes have been made to existing entries, with some reflecting 2013 information. Arranged in alphabetical order, the thorough, but concise, entries that are generally a page or less in length each cover individuals (Abigail Adams, Gwen Ifill); groups (Citizens’ Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Pro-Life Action League); legal cases (Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan, Roe v. Wade); issues (child day care, feminization of poverty); and more, and conclude with “see also” and reference notations. Black-and-white photographs have been added to several existing articles, and some entries that already featured a photo now offer an additional one or a replacement, or have had the photo enhanced. The outer margins of the text have been narrowed, thus providing more text space, but not crowding the format. The appendixes, which contain documents, speeches, and statistics, have been enlarged and rearranged, and the title also offers a time line covering events from 1638 to 2013 and a thorough bibliography and index. Libraries that own the previous edition of this title should consider this replacement, and others should seriously consider acquiring it.–Eldon Younce, Anthony Public Library, KS

Scholastic Children’s Dictionary. 864p. diag. illus. map. photos. reprods. Scholastic. 2013. lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-545-60495-6. LC 2010001521.

Gr 3-6–Scholastic is sticking to the formula it unrolled for the 2010 edition–mainly using photographs instead of drawings for illustrations and including modern vernacular, such as “chat room,” and “mosh pit.” Many of the pages in the 2013 edition are identical to those in the previous work. Entries are in neat, clearly defined columns and a large, easy-to-read font. Entry words appear in red and definitions are in black. The photographs are of remarkably fine resolution, possessing an almost 3-D quality and lifelike colors. This edition still has a 10-page thesaurus, grammar and idioms guides, a table of acronyms, a list of U.S. presidents, U.S. and world maps, and a table of world flags. Gone are the charts for the Braille and ASL alphabets, however. The few additions to this edition consist mainly of more word histories (users can now find the stories behind “grim,” “molt,” “relent,” and “rummage”), and there are a few more photographs. Still in place is the use of phonetic pronunciation guides instead of the more academic use of symbols as guides. All in all, this is an attractive, modern reference, but unless your 2010 copy is in tatters, there is no need to invest in it.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC

Resource Update

BELLENIR, Karen. Allergy Information for Teens. 388p. (Teen Health Series). chart. diag. further reading. illus. index. websites. Omnigraphics. 2013. lib. ed. $69. ISBN 978-0-7808-1288-8. LC 2012038514.

BYRNE, Joseph P. Health and Wellness in the Renaissance and Enlightenment. 268p. (Health and Wellness in Daily Life Series). glossary. index. notes. reprods. Greenwood. 2013. lib. ed. $58. ISBN 978-0-313-38136-2. ebook available. LC 2013007961.

HOLT, Thomas J. & Bernadette H. Schell. Hackers and Hacking: A Reference Handbook. 354p. (Contemporary World Issues Series). chart. diag. index. map. notes. photos. ABC-CLIO. 2013. lib. ed. $58. ISBN 978-1-61069-276-2. ebook available. LC 2013007935.

This article was published in School Library Journal's October 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.