March 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Brush Up on Musicals, Cat Breeds, Sign Language, and More | Reference Reviews

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Barnes-Svarney, Patricia & Thomas E. Svarney, eds. The Handy Biology Answer Book. 2nd ed. 500p. glossary. illus. index. Visible Ink. 2014. pap. $21.95. ISBN 9781578594900; ebk. ISBN 9781578595112.

Gr 6 Up –Ten years after the publication of the first edition, the authors have diligently updated and revised its content, posing new questions and answers. Divided into distinct categories—such as bacteria, viruses, protists, aquatic and land animal diversity, physiology, environment and ecology, and more—this title poses a variety of biology-related questions, such as “What are the largest and smallest vertebrates?” and “How much weight can an ant carry.” Important terms are bolded, and darkened sidebars are featured throughout. Key individuals are detailed, such as Camillo Golgi, Gregor Mendel, Carolus Linnaeus, and Aristotle. Students will find both a review of concepts as well as new information. More than 100 black-and-white pictures, diagrams, and charts grace this reference book, adding support to numerous topics. A vast glossary defining key terminology, suggested books, websites, news sites, and a detailed index conclude this helpful and inviting book.–Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District, PA

Farfour, Gadi, ed. The Cat Encyclopedia. 320p. glossary. index. photos. DK. 2014. Tr $40.00. ISBN 9781409347903.

Gr 6 Up –Incorporating material that previously appeared in The Complete Cat Breed Book (2013), this coffee-table volume is beautiful to look at but will probably hold limited appeal for young readers beyond the photographs. This work is certainly thorough: all 130 internationally recognized cat breeds are featured. Before readers even reach the catalog of cats, they’ll find more than 60 pages of text covering a ton of material: an explanation of what a cat is, cats in culture, feline biology, and more. Although the author takes the time to differentiate between the Pantherine (big cats) and the Felinae (the domestic cat), the focus is on cats as pets, a relationship that has been developing longer than perhaps previously realized. The book is attractively formatted, with text broken up by an easy balance of photographs and side boxes, making the experience of reading neither cluttered nor meandering. The rest of the book is devoted to “caring for your cat,” which unfortunately results in the book finishing on a downer: a discussion of euthanizing aged animals. There is a lot of information to absorb, but the book’s size prohibits lap reading and isn’t written with children in mind. However, kids will enjoy the beautiful, large color photographs of the incredibly diverse felines represented, as much as any adult cat fancier.–Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA

redstarGordon, Jean M., ed. The Gallaudet Children’s Dictionary of American Sign Language. illus. by Debbie Tilley. 384p. diag. index. w/DVD. Gallaudet Univ. 2014. Tr $39.95. ISBN 9781563686313. LC 2014004275.

K-Gr 4 –This long-anticipated and colorfully designed reference work is the first comprehensive American Sign Language dictionary for children published to date. It boasts more than 1,000 signs and includes a searchable DVD, which features young native signers demonstrating each sign and 150 of the practice sentences. Each entry takes up a third of a page and includes the word in bold red. Arranged alphabetically, the words are searchable with a thumb guide and represent a combination of sight words, familiar words, and words relating to animals, major holidays, sports, and school. An important aspect for both Deaf and hearing students are the synonyms listed directly underneath many entries. Since one sign stands for a variety of synonyms, this will help learners develop vocabulary. For example, under the term fake, readers will find the words imposter, pseudo, artificial, and counterfeit. A watercolor illustration humorously depicts the word and is accompanied by a corresponding sentence. The signs are clearly illustrated in black-and-white line drawings of children. The hands and forearms are in bold, resulting in a very clear picture of how to form the sign. Tips about ASL and Deaf culture and etiquette take the place of a word now and then in “Now You Know” boxes. The comprehensive introduction relays important information about ASL, including regional differences, and explains the arrows used to depict the motions of the signs. Highly recommended.–Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City

Parrish, Charles & John Nauright. Soccer Around the World: A Cultural Guide to the World’s Favorite Sport. 400p. ABC-CLIO. index. 2014. lib. ed. $89.00. ISBN 9781610693028. LC 2013051345.

Gr 8 Up –During summer 2014, the World Cup dominated the news. This volume covers the major 18 countries that were frequently mentioned during the event. Readers will discover how soccer has contributed to the globalization of the economy and interactions among nations. The authors start off with a brief overview of the six regional confederations that are encompassed under the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The book is organized alphabetically by country, and each entry presents sections on the history and culture of soccer in that region, star athletes (such as Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi from Argentina), and how the nation has performed at the World Cup. Unfortunately, only small black-and-white illustrations break up the dense text. Using the index to search for a name is difficult; knowledgeable readers will realize that famous players are listed as a subindex underneath their country. However, students looking for newer players from the recent World Cup, such as Toni Kroos, Miroslav Klose, or Manuel Neuer, will not find information about them here. The time line is as recent as 2014 (prior to the World Cup). Information about women’s soccer is included within each country but to a lesser extent. Because Parrish and Nauright, both of whom edited Sports Around the World (ABC-CLIO, 2012), have expertly synthesized material on sports, this book will be useful to report writers and soccer enthusiasts, not only for its coverage of the sport but also for its global implications.–Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA

redstarRobinson, Mark A. The World of Musicals: An Encyclopedia of Stage, Screen, and Song. 2 vol. 877p. bibliog. ebook available. index. photos. reprods. Greenwood. 2014. Tr $189. ISBN 9781440800962; ebk. ISBN 9781440800979. LC 2013030274.

Gr 9 Up –Authored by a performance arts educator, this set for high school, college, and professional collections focuses specifically on U.S. musicals, including more than 500 television, Broadway, and movie titles, close to 200 individuals, and affiliated organizations, topics and more. Whether readers are looking for information on The Wizard of Oz (the movie or the play), Jim Henson, the Tony Awards, or the TKTS Booth, this volume will provide enough information to satisfy basic research needs as well as offer a jumping-off point for further exploration. Entries for titles include the date of production; the network, studio, or theater associated with it; writers, composers, lyricists; directors and choreographers; cast; songs; plot, history; information on securing performance rights; and a bibliography. Also included are a lengthy introduction with a history of the American musical and 10 appendixes offering lists of the most popular musicals performed by high schools, musical suggestions for schools looking for a challenge, audition songs, theatrical-rights licensing agencies, Broadway theaters, songs that have won the Academy Award, and longest-running Broadway musicals. Well researched and well documented, this book is an excellent addition to theater collections, whether for professionals or for the general public wanting to know more about American musicals, past and present.–Sara Marcus, Queensborough Community College Library, Bayside, NY

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