February 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A Guide to the Bible, Career Info, the Ultimate Atlas | Reference Reviews

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Collins. Collins Children’s World Atlas. 144p. chart. diag. index. maps. photos. Collins. Jun. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780007514267.

Gr 4 Up –With its colorful cover, this atlas seems to be intended for younger readers, but its workmanlike content and reading level make it most appropriate for older elementary and middle school students. Each section focuses on a specific continent, and an index allows lookup by city. Within each section, spreads zoom in on specific areas, sometimes a country, sometimes a region. These divisions are heavily tilted toward Western geography; Europe is explored in 24 pages, and the continental United States in ten—the same number as the entire continent of Africa. Each country/region page features a political map showing major cities and bodies of water, surrounded by captioned color photos highlighting relevant landmarks and traditions. An appendix of “country indicators” features facts about the area, population, and a Human Development Index for each country, along with circular charts showing forest areas and other facts in a confusing visual format that tries to do too much at once. Additional.–Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

Isaacs, Sally. Ultimate Globetrotting World Atlas. 256p. chart. illus. index. photos. National Geographic for Kids. 2014. lib. ed. $22.90. ISBN 9781426314896; pap. $13.99. ISBN 9781426314889.

Gr 3-7 –Journey the continents and countries with this vibrant reference that offers games and country data in addition to maps. Opening material includes a section on how to use the book and the maps featured. Most countries are covered on a whole spread (very small nations such as Malta and Vatican City have only one page), and the entries are arranged by continent and then region. An overview paragraph and map are included for each country, and entries for larger nations include a list of five things to do while there; three attractions; essential facts; and the national bird, flower, and mammal. “Digital traveler!” sections encourage research on National Geographic’s site. When looking at this feature for Peru, for example, readers will find images of animals, such as guanacos, vicunas, alpacas, and llamas, and are then invited to reflect upon similarities and differences from animals in their own area. This atlas is bursting with colorful and catchy photographs, images, and fact boxes. It is ideal for students who want to learn more about the world for their own knowledge and is also a great supplement to geography projects or travel planning.–Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

Mallegg, Kristin B. & Joseph Palmisano, eds. Career Information Center. 10th ed. 16 vols.. 2500p. chart. further reading. index. photos. websites. Gale Cengage. 2014. pap. $741. ISBN 9780028662268.

Gr 9 Up –A long awaited update to the ninth edition (2007), this sleek new revision continues to provide descriptions for more than 700 careers, while reflecting new technologies and employment outlook in a changing economy. Each of the 16 volumes (previously there were 13) bears a cluster title, such as “Education and Training,” “Hospitality and Tourism,” “Health Science,” or “Marketing.” A table of contents in each volume lists cluster entries alphabetically, but users will still rely heavily on the master index in the last volume as the quickest route to their specific area of interest. A new volume, “Information Technology,” features jobs such as business intelligence analyst, web developer, and multimedia artist. Entries are approximately four pages long each, and the information is now less narrative and more accessibly chunked into subheadings. Color-blocked fact boxes include bar graphs indicating median wages for typical jobs in that field, and licensure (or certification) organization contact information. Some entries feature “Is this career for you?” (a short interview with someone working in the field). Each entry is followed by a list of resources, including organizations, books, and audiovisual resources, such as Youtube videos. Large color photographs appear throughout, providing up-to-date depictions of people on the job. The set index contains many key word and cross-references, relying on bold type for main entry designation. Easily navigable for secondary students, this general reference will be valuable for public libraries and career centers.–Vicki Reutter, State University of New York at Cortland

Matthews, John A. ed. Encyclopedia of Environmental Change. 2d ed. 3 vol. 1496p. SAGE. 2014. Tr $560. ISBN 9781446247112.

Gr 10 Up –This second edition of the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Environmental Change (2001) has been expanded to more than 4,000 entries and 140 authors and aims to explain the terminology, concepts, techniques, methodology, and philosophy of environmental change. The volumes tackle the rapidly developing topic of environmental change as an interdisciplinary science. Not only are natural and physical science topics addressed but so, too, are subjects in social science and the humanities. For example, an entry on the collapse of civilizations references Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (W.W. Norton & Co., 1997). This approach is a highlight of the set and makes it useful to a wide variety of classroom subjects. Concise definitions or longer, in-depth articles are signed, there is extensive cross-referencing and bibliographic citations, and maps and diagrams accompany many entries. It should be noted that English rather than American spellings are used and most of the references are to materials published in Britain. Matthews states that this encyclopedia “is an advanced work of reference,” and, considering the subject matter and the writing style, these volumes will be most useful to AP and IB students.–Patricia Ann Owens, formerly with Illinois Eastern Community Colls., Mt. Carmel

Potter, Joan. African American Firsts: Famous, Little-Known and Unsung Triumphs of Blacks In America. 4th ed. 464p. bibliog. index. photos. Kensington. 2013. pap. $16. ISBN 9780758292414; ebk. $13.99. ISBN 9780758292421.

Gr 5 Up –The 4th edition has had 45 pages added since the 2009 previous work and is still the place to go for quick information about who did what first. The material is subdivided into 15 chapters covering groundbreakers in fields such as business, education, government, fine arts, and sports so that users can see other firsts in the same area of endeavor. Entries, which are headed by a question, such as “Who was the first African American billionaire?” range from a few paragraphs to one-and-a-half pages in length, and have few wasted words. Black-and-white illustrations are included with some of the entries. While not offering enough material for reports, this work will help users get off to a good start or find a quick answer to a question. The 26-page index lists people, places, and subjects, with main entries indicated in bold. A short selected bibliography lists mostly books and six websites. Freedom Facts and Firsts (Visible Ink, 2009) has similar coverage to this with some longer entries but not as many people, and African American Almanac (11th ed., Gale, 2011) has three times the pages and includes more detailed information but is less up to date. Collections that need a source that allows the student to quickly answer a first question or that serve those who like to browse through books on African American history will find this a helpful addition.–Ann West LaPrise, Huron School Dist., New Boston, MI

PRINCE, Jennifer R. The Handy Bible Answer Book. 432p. illus. index. Visible Ink. 2014. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781578594788; ebk. ISBN 9781578594924.

Gr 7 Up– An easy-to-navigate reference tool on the bestselling book of all time. Youth services librarian Prince condenses the contents of the religious tome into more than 1,700 frequently asked questions. Covering topics that range from how the Bible came to be (including its different iterations, translations, and editions) to how it has influenced popular culture (including Star Wars and Broadway productions), this concise work touches upon diverse subjects, common interpretations, and even historical and archaeological findings related to the book that has served as a cornerstone of Western Civilization. The chapters are divided according to how the text is commonly sectioned, Old Testament (Pentateuch, Historical Books, Wisdom, and Poetical Books) and New Testament (Prophets, Gospels and Acts, Paul’s Letters, Other Letters, and Revelations). An additional chapter discusses the Apocrypha and why these books aren’t usually included in the King James Version but are still venerated by some Christians. The black-and-white illustrations and photos interspersed throughout add context, interpretation, and even humor to the already conversational tone of this work. Even though it has a slight Protestant bent, this is a primarily nondenominational text that can be used and read by anyone trying to tackle the overwhelming tome for the first time or for those who have many queries about it but are not sure where to begin. Readers won’t have to look much further than Prince’s well-researched guide.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.