A great starting place for curious young researchers and browsers alike, this reference tool explains topics in sufficient but not overwhelming detail for students ages 9-12. More than 600 entries are arranged alphabetically and range in length from one-half page to just over four pages. Entries are illustrated with more than 2,000 photographs, diagrams, charts, time lines, and maps. Longer entries include subheadings that divide text into easy-to-read sections. An introductory sentence or two follows entry headings and provides a brief definition or overview of the subject. Country and region entries have maps that show key geographical features, capitals, and major cities. "Key Facts" boxes give facts and figures about continents, regions, countries, and planets. Population figures are based on the 2000 U.S. census, 2001 Canadian census, or mid-2000 United Nations estimates.
"Did You Know?" boxes highlight interesting information (most Communist flags were red to represent the blood shed by workers in their struggle), while "Amazing Facts!" boxes showcase facts about the natural world and modern technology (the longest known cave stretches over 330 miles in the Mammoth system in Kentucky;^B the gray kangaroo can cover a distance of up to 30 feet in a single hop). See also references direct students to appropriate or related entries. A concluding "For Further Reference" section contains several useful resources, including maps of the world, the U.S., and Native American Nations; a time zone map; a countries table with names, flags, capitals, and population; a table of the 50 states with state flags, postal abbreviations, nicknames, capitals, years of admission, and population; and a U.S. presidents table including party affiliations, terms of office, vice presidents, and "Did You Know?" facts. A plant and animal classification chart, measurement calculations and conversions, and an index conclude the reference section. Libraries serving younger students will want multiple copies of this highly usable and user-friendly tool. Shauna Yusko
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Young children need direction when it comes to researching topics, direction that the Internet does not provide. That's why an age-appropriate, trusted source is a more important tool than ever. The Scholastic Children's Encyclopedia offers young students a starting point that leads them to the information they need in terms they understand.