________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 7 . . . . November 21, 2008

cover Smart-opedia Junior: The Amazing Book About Everything.

Toronto, ON: Owlkids Books, 2008.
184 pp., hardcover, $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-897349-30-4.

Subject Headings:
Children's encyclopedias and dictionaries.
Encyclopedias and dictionaries.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

*** /4


How does a letter get where it's going?

First you slide your letter into a mailbox. A postal worker collects your letter from the box with all the others. All the letters are sorted by destination in a postal sorting station. Your letter travels on, by train or airplane, in a big bag. When it reaches the destination postal station, it is sorted again, by neighborhood. The mail carrier delivers your letter to the addressee, along with the other mail for that address.


Like its predecessor, Smart-opedia, this book covers a variety of topics, but at a younger interest and reading level. An introduction provides information about the book's special features: "Figure it Out!" gives kids an opportunity to try puzzles and games, "Did You Know?" offers fascinating facts, "Number Time" has statistics related to the topic, "Kids' Question" answers a question that most kids would like to ask, and "What About You?" encourages kids to think about something in their own lives. The book is divided into seven main chapters, beginning with the child's own little world — himself and his family — and branching out into the community, the world and the universe. Topics covered in "Our Bodies," the first chapter, include body parts, the birth of a baby, milestones in a baby's development, the skeleton, the muscles, the senses, staying healthy and illnesses. "A House to Live In" features the building of a house, the weather and seasons, clothing, rooms in a house and meal times. "In the City" discusses places in the city, transportation, and community workers, while "History" focuses on events and inventions from prehistoric times to the present. Here readers will learn about ancient Egypt, medieval times, the days of Louis XIV and even a pirate raid, just to name a few. Information about plants, wild and domestic animals, habitats and farming can be found in the chapter entitled "A World of Plants and Animals." Here readers will find several life cycles — a tree and a frog, for example — as well as a comparison between a Rocky Mountain habitat in two different seasons. "A Big, Wide World" highlights various continents and their habitats as well as the homes that people live in and their lifestyles. Finally, "The Universe" discusses space exploration, the solar system and how astronauts live in space for months at a time (this book is current in that Pluto, Ceres and Eris are listed as dwarf planets). A table of contents and an index are included.

     The book's layout, simple text font, and the colourful cartoon drawings will definitely appeal to young children. Gender roles are not stereotyped (e.g. Dad is shown taking his daughter's temperature, then accompanying her to the pediatrician's office), but a few of areas of the text are slightly inaccurate or misleading. For instance, when describing a pregnant woman, the text states, "Her stomach has grown very big," while another sentence reads, "Marie is tired. A blood test shows that she is going to have a baby." In reference to a child's grandmother, the text states that Grandma Katie "gets tired more than she used to" — alluding to the fact that, because of her age — 67 — she is naturally more tired. Sixty-seven is hardly considered old age anymore. Another weakness is that the complexity of the vocabulary is somewhat inconsistent — it is easier to read in some sections than in others. Though, according to the publishers, the book has been designed for young readers ages 5-8, the interest level is obviously much lower than the reading level.

     Generally a fun and interesting read, this book, at times, tries to do too much. It is sketchy in some areas but detailed in others, and one wonders why certain topics were included while others were omitted. Despite its minor flaws, however, the book is still very worthy of purchase.


Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.