Books for Children: Encyclopedias

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The Independent Culture
Oxford Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Universe, ed Archie Roy, pounds 19.95. For all you need to know about the physical universe beyond our own planet, with alphabetical entries on everything from supernovae to Planck's Law or Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn. The text does not shirk technical data, but manages to remain accessible: not for younger children, certainly, but useful for any serious scientific beginner. Illustrated in colour with photographs, charts, diagrams and artist's impressions, like the one above of the Hubble space telescope in orbit.

The Guinness Guide to Peoples and Cultures, ed Alisdair Rogers, pounds 19.95. Around the world in 80 ways: this lusciously produced encyclopedia of ethnic, cultural, artistic and social diversity divides itself into World Patterns (including chapters on Conquest and Colonialism, Race and Racism), the Individual in Society (which encompasses kinship and gender roles), Language and Belief (including the written word and religion) and Group Identities (ethnicity, nationalism, monuments and survival).

Sainsbury's Children's Encyclopedia, ed John Farndon, Collins pounds 6.95. Large-format, cheerfully illustrated paperback that groups its information in subject categories in a way that will be helpful for school project work: 'Life Plan' (about DNA), 'The Cold War and Communism', or 'Energy and Heat'. There's an index, and a clearly designed back section with several quick-reference charts of fascinating facts (want to know the length of the Ob'-Irtysh river?)

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