New Reference Works on Economics, Dogs, Vietnam, & More

This month's reference reviews include a guide to dog breeds, a look at the Vietnam War's role in pop culture, and more.

1703-ReferRev-CvsGagne, Tammy. The Dog Encyclopedia for Kids. 224p. glossary. index. photos. Capstone. Feb. 2017. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781623706944.

Gr 4-8 –Concise single profiles of more than 150 dog breeds make this an appealing resource for pet shelves. Breeds are divided into seven groups, such as toys and hounds, with a short overview of each, including coverage of appearance, personality, and training and care notes. The information is not extensive but provides enough to provide readers with a good sense of the breed’s key individual qualities. Other data includes country of origin and date of the breed’s official recognition by the American Kennel Club, plus historical background for some but not all. Layouts work well; every information bite is set off by white space and a bold, colorful heading. For each breed, there is a full-body photograph and a “fun fact” inset, accompanied by a smaller photo. The short tips about care and training make this title useful for prospective dog owners as well as kids who just want to browse. However, the content in this single volume is virtually identical to a concurrent series publication: the set “Dog Encyclopedias” consists of seven separate books, one for each group, and uses the same words, pictures, and layouts. While some libraries may decide that having the same content in one book and in several series books might be valuable, selectors should be aware of the duplication. VERDICT An appealing and accessible introduction to the subject and recommended for those seeking additional materials on canines.–Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville Public Library, OR

redstarLind, Nancy S., Erik T. Rankin, & Gardenia Harris. Today’s Economic Issues: Democrats and Republicans. 387p. (Across the Aisle). bibliog. ebook available. index. glossary. websites. ABC-CLIO. Aug. 2016. Tr $97. ISBN 9781440839368.

Gr 9 Up –The second installment in a series that aims to help readers get a better sense of the political parties, this title focuses on economic issues. In a democracy, each party advocates for what it believes is best for the country and the people. However, the parties differ on the priorities and methods. The text broadly defines economic issues to include the traditional (taxes, social security) as well as areas that impact the economy but are not typically regarded as “economic” per se (such as research and green initiatives). Thirty-eight essays explore how Democrats and Republicans view the various economic topics. Each introduces the subject in a couple of paragraphs under “At a Glance,” followed by a bulleted list of where most Democrats and Republicans stand. The more in-depth “Overview” frames the issue within the current context and provides some relevant historical background. The book considers the stances of contemporary Democrats and Republicans, differences between the two, and fault lines within both parties. The volume is accessible, and readers will be able to quickly navigate to their area of interest, while the nonpartisan essays provide a fair and complete assessment of each issue discussed. VERDICT Highly recommended as a reference for high school government courses.–Muhammed Hassanali, Shaker Heights, OH

Milam, Ron, ed. The Vietnam War in Popular Culture: The Influence of America’s Most Controversial War on Everyday Life. 2 vols. 772p. bibliog. ebook available. index. further reading. ABC-CLIO/Praeger. Nov. 2016. Tr $164. ISBN 9781440840463.

Gr 9 Up –Combat veteran and professor Milam (Not A Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the Vietnam War) has compiled 37 essays on what George Herring calls in the foreword “the war that never seemed to go away.” In “Missing Home,” Milam points out that popular culture can fill a gap for soldiers far from home and living under the stress of war. In addition, the war influenced American culture throughout active fighting and long after. Each chapter contains between three and five essays that range in length between 15 and 25 pages, and most contributors are connected with universities. The pieces explore movies and television extensively, as well as books, music, magazines (“The Cult of Playboy”), and miscellaneous topics. Some individual articles have a narrow focus (Werner Herzog movies; All in the Family), but taken as a whole, the two volumes (During the War; After the War) are diverse, tackling, for instance, segregation, race and gender, and Chicano pop culture. Topic coverage ranges from a fairly scientific examination of the chemical elements of Agent Orange to a look at comic book heroes Iron Man and Super Green Beret. Individual entries include notes and, in some cases, a bibliography and/or further reading. The volumes are indexed separately and contain no photos or illustrations. VERDICT A possible option for pop culture studies; less valuable for history-oriented classes. Most high school use will likely be related to class assignments. Consider for large collections.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More! 304p. filmog. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. National Geographic. Oct. 2016. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781426325427.

Gr 5-8 –Large trim size and solid heft notwithstanding, this single-volume science encyclopedia is less an authoritative survey than a quick and indifferently organized scan of its topic. The plethora of single-topic spreads are summarily slotted into either “Physical Science” (with the overambitious boast that here “you will discover everything you need to know about the physical sciences”) or “Life Science.” Introductions to organic chemistry, bioelectricity (“Frankenstein Science”), and vision are arbitrarily placed in the former section; chapters on “The Universe” and “Planet Earth” are shoehorned into the latter. As in most National Geographic productions, the photography and digital art are sharp and lavish in quantity, and images are chosen as much for their drama or visual impact as for their informational content. But as for the content, many sentences (for instance, “The Italian cathedral still has that lamp inside, and today it is named for Galileo”) show a need for more careful copyediting. Broken up into short blocks, the text also contains occasional cheesy jokes and simple science experiments of dubious value, which come off as labored and an unnecessary changes of pace. VERDICT There is not much to distinguish this offering from similar flashy compendia of science facts like National Geographic Science of Everything or The Science Book: Everything You Need To Know About the World and How It Works. But its minor updates make it worth considering as an additional purchase for middle school browsers.–John Peters, Children’s Literature Consultant, New York

Wilsdon, Christina. Ultimate Oceanpedia. 272p. filmog. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. National Geographic. Nov. 2016. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781426325502.

Gr 4-7 –With more than 350 vibrant photographs, this is a visually enticing look at the undersea world. Engaging “Bet You Didn’t Know” fact boxes enhance each of the seven chapters. Chapter one provides size overview and maps of the locations while also highlighting the species unique to each of the four oceans. Also detailed are the properties of oceans, with a spread for the various layers, from sunlit to abyss. Focusing on aquatic life, the second chapter includes a concise food web. Students will learn relevant information about sharks, mollusks, clams, coral, and more (common and scientific name, size, diet, habitat, and range). Other sections examine waves, currents, and tides; weather phenomena such as El Niño and monsoons; the seafloor; and human influence (fishing, the importance of protecting the sea). Firsthand accounts from experts (e.g., marine ecologists and oceanographers) enliven the work. The book concludes with a three-page glossary with more than 100 terms. VERDICT The crisp images will lure in browsers, and the user-friendly layout will hold the interest of those seeking report fodder.–Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District, Greensburg, PA

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