CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 11 . . . . February 2, 2001
32 pp., pbk., & cl., $8.96 (pbk.), $19.16 (cl.).
In 1947, a Bedouin shepherd boy was looking for his goat in a high hillside cave in Qumran, overlooking the Dead Sea. There he found some old jars with curious ancient scrolls. They were 2000-year-old manuscripts. The manuscripts included the oldest surviving copies of the Bible and the writings of the people who lived in Qumran. Over the next nine years, archaeologists continued to dig. They found over 500 manuscripts in eleven caves. These manuscripts are known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.Written in mini-series format, each set of books celebrates the beauty of the featured country and the diversity of its people. Averaging 12 chapters, each of the titles includes a table of contents, glossary and index. Vibrant, full-colour photographs, diagrams and maps, all suitably labeled, enhance the text. In fact, in many cases, the photographs could even stand on their own. The text, written in fairly simple language, is fluent and interesting. All of the series books have the same format, in layout, text font and style. Though there are some differences in topics covered- due to the unique features, problems or contributions of the various countries- generally, the range of topics is similar.
Books on the land contain information on the physical features, climate, people, major cities, flora and fauna, natural resources, industry and transportation of each country.
In the titles on people, the focus is on the variety of lifestyles of the nation's inhabitants- their religion, daily life, food, schools, clothing, sports and pastimes. Life in the cities and the countryside is compared.
The "culture" books begin with a history of the country and often include a section on famous people from ancient times to the present. Information on major religions and their holidays, traditions and celebrations serves to give readers a better understanding of the diverse cultures around the world. Equal billing is given to all of the country's people and religions. Art, music, theatre, dance, architecture and language are also highlighted as well as the contributions that the people have made to global society. (For example, the Greeks' contributions to the world of math, science, medicine and philosophy have had a powerful influence on the rest of the globe, while the art and fashion produced by the French is unparalleled. The concepts of freedom, equality and brotherhood, on which many modern democracies are founded, were first developed by French philosophers in the 1700s.) In addition, there is a section on the alphabet and a list of commonly used words and phrases.
As each of the titles in the set is also a "stand-alone" book, it is obvious that there will be some repetition in each volume. Perhaps Kalman could have found a way to incorporate all three books into a single volume for cost-effectiveness. Generally, however, this is an excellent series designed to foster an understanding and a greater appreciation of world communities. Its format will be helpful to students searching for specific information.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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