________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 10 . . . . November 6, 2009

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The ABCs of Insects. (The ABCs of the Natural World).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3436-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3416-1 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Insects-Juvenile literature.
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

* /4

   
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The ABCs of Continents. (The ABCs of the Natural World).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3434-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3414-7 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Continents-Juvenile literature.
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

* /4

   
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The ABCs of Endangered Animals. (The ABCs of the Natural World).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3435-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3415-4 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Rare animals-Juvenile literature.
Endangered species-Juvenile literature.
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

* /4

   
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The ABCs of the Environment. (The ABCs of the Natural World).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3437-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3417-8 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Human ecology-Juvenile literature.
Environmental protection-Juvenile literature.
English language-Alphabet-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

* /4

   

This series of books, structured according to the letters of the alphabet, is a haphazard collection of information that will be of little value in a school library or classroom collection. One of the problems with the Internet is that the information is often too difficult for children to understand. Books chosen for use in the classroom are supposed to contain useful information, presented according to the reading ability and understanding of the target age group. It is disappointing, therefore, when a publisher slaps bland, non-specific information together and asks teachers to spend money on it.

     Budgets are tight, and there are many good books on the natural world available, books that are much better than The ABCs of Continents which features 'quartz' for 'q'; 'rock formations' for 'r'; and 'volcanoes' for 'v' - all geological terms related to continents, but then inexplicably inserts 'United States' for 'u', with text that seems selected simply to take up space, including the fact that people who live in the United States "are known as Americans." How this relates to the topic of continents is not clear and appears to be irrelevant.

     Author Bobbie Kalman need only have used an encyclopedia or the Internet to fill in some of the gaps in her knowledge of the natural world. For example, in The ABCs of Insects, she uses 'Quick quiz' for the letter 'q',when the queen butterfly or question mark butterfly could easily have been used. There are several examples of this kind of lazy work –– children deserve better. The books have bright pictures but lack specific information about where animals and insects live (Africa is a big and diverse continent), and there are no maps to give visual clues.

     The worst book in this series is The ABCs of the Environment. Entries, such as 'Jump for Joy!' and 'Kindness and love,' lack content that justify their inclusion. ("Spending time in nature makes us feel great. Enjoy the fresh air and jump for joy under the sun!").

     Teachers want value for their very meager resources. Although these books look good on the outside, don't judge them by their covers. Always look inside.

Not recommended.

Harriet Zaidman 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.

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

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