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China (Country Explorers)


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Gr 5-7-- Short chapters cover history, peoples, government, society, economy, and culture. Material is presented in a clear, interesting style and would be generally quite informative were it not for numerous little tidbits of misinformation, most noticeable in the history and culture sections. In an era of transition from one form of Chinese transliteration to another, most authors opt for following the pinyin standard while retaining a few names that are well established in popular use from a previous system, e.g., Confucius instead of the more correct Kong Fuzi. Stefoff purports to do the same, yet the text is a hodgepodge of every known romanization system, including Cantonese. Part of the problem seems to stem from an inability to choose a standard: cities are mostly given in pinyin , as are Communist leaders; early Republican leaders in pop Cantonese, etc. This gross inconsistency is a disservice to children and runs counter to established practice in the literature. In ``Culture and Arts,'' Stefoff is on thinnest ground, oversimplifying to the point of misleading. Although China has 55 minorities, as noted in the text, it is positively bizarre to represent only Mongols in the accompanying photographs (10 pictures). Otherwise, illustrative material is serviceable enough, although not everything is well identified. The only map is inadequate vis-a-vis the material discussed in the text. While it has some problems of its own, Majors's The Land and People of China (Lippincott, 1989) is a better effort for the upper stratum of this age group. --John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library

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