A sense of place

25th December 1998 at 00:00
PEOPLES AND THEIR ENVIRONMENT SERIES. Arctic. Desert. Mountains. Rainforest. River Valley. Savannah. By Robert Low. Watts. Pounds 7.99 each.

Children's curiosity will be immediately aroused by the striking close-up cover photographs of this series, each showing a child from the region described. On opening the book, they will not be disappointed.

The books, divided into double-page spreads, define and locate, in simple terms, each of the environments. They look at the people and aspects of their lifestyle such as food, clothes, homes and the family and community.

The text for each section is restricted to a few succinct sentences. Words that can be referred to in the glossary are helpfully emboldened. On the other side of the spread is an illustrative captioned photograph. Photographs throughout are as distinctive as those on the cover, and poorer readers could glean much from the photograph and caption alone.

Opportunities for debate with children are encouraged, particularly in the section Changing Times. There are insights into the cultural impact of the outside world: the Huaorani of the Amazon who, in the wake of deforestation, are finding it increasingly difficult to find places to grow food, for instance; or the arrival of television in the mountain villages of the Miao peopleof China.

Paul Harrison

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