Focusing on Brazil, this is one of a series offering resources for teaching individual countries at GCSE level to meet the requirement for more study of places. Each book includes a number of case studies, statistics for the country in question, and a section on exam preparation.
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Gr 5-8-Colorful charts, graphs, drawings, maps, and photographs fill the pages of these introductory studies. While providing some background on geography, the books focus on regional contrasts and contemporary issues, e.g., population, resources, urbanization, and the environment. These topics are addressed on two-page spreads. Some discussions are more explanatory in nature (what a Mediterranean climate is); others are quite specific (agribusiness in the Sao Francisco Valley of Brazil). Unfortunately, in Italy, the text often becomes a dry recitation of facts. Chapters in both books are introduced by bulleted, often simplistic, and sometimes misleading statements. In Brazil, a section on children opens, "There are opportunities for young people," while the remarks center on child labor and homeless children. A chapter devoted to "Population and Change" gives a number of statistics, but fails to mention the country's total population. Both books include extensive glossaries of words and phrases. Although the visual material supplements other resources, these titles are mixed bags at best. Libraries are advised to purchase the "Cultures of the World" series (Marshall Cavendish) as first-choice country overviews.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal
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