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Gr 9 Up-These two volumes provide students with easy access to information about novels that they must read for course work and/or, ostensibly, those that they choose to read for pleasure. The entries for each title include author biography, plot summary, character profiles, discussion of themes and style, historical context, critical overview, and three critical essays (one original to this work). Each article also contains a short bibliography of sources and an annotated list for further reading. Among the 30 novels included are The Scarlet Letter, The Bell Jar, Catch-22, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Bluest Eye, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, and Heart of Darkness. Both volumes contain three indexes: nationality/ethnicity (of author); author/title; and subject/theme. The first two are cumulative, but the subject/theme index is volume-specific, which could present some problems as the series grows. Also, themes and subjects have been too generously assigned. The Chocolate War is cited in 23 index entries, including "American Northeast," "Adulthood," and "Politics." This work is informative, thoughtfully conceived and designed, and well written. However, the question must be asked, particularly by school librarians: does this publication provide everything a student might need to write a critical paper without actually reading the novel? A fine addition that should be received with considerable enthusiasm, but also with the reservations indicated.-Tess McKellen, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn
Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.