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Who Settled the West?


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Grade 3-6-These titles read like student note cards not yet absorbed into research-paper narratives. Choppy subsections under somewhat arbitrary "chapters" (usually two-page spreads) are filled with facts, opinions, and occasional directives to students. Words defined in the glossary are printed in boldface. Sound-bite style and superficiality aside, the tidbits, adorned with archival photographs, drawings, paintings, and visual dictionaries, nevertheless make pretty interesting reading. Unfortunately, the sources for the illustrations are difficult to trace since the note on acknowledgments is arranged by source rather than by page number and includes ambiguous "other images" credits (Tom Cruise on horseback in the film Far and Away seems a curious choice for depicting the Great Oklahoma Land Race). The eclectic collection of photographs of immigrants in Who Settled the West. is nicely laid out, though, as are the illustrations of the various boomtown buildings and the two-page scrapbook spread showing the variety of 19th-century attire in the other two volumes. Kalman's Canadian bias occasionally surfaces by presenting Canada as the land of opportunity for escaped slaves and a haven for uprooted Native Americans, a civilised country protected by the North West (now Royal Canadian) Mounted Police, while the folks living south of the border remained mired in lawlessness. Overall, though, these titles would be useful supplements for schools, drawing reluctant readers to the nonfiction section with their heavily illustrated format and snippets of history.
John Sigwald, Unger Memorial Library, Plainview, TX
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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