(Note: Somehow this review was previously mis-assigned to the companion volume, El Salvador: The Land.) It's hard to find good books on El Salvador that aren't about the war, and believe me, I've looked! My husband is Salvadoran and I'm a Spanish teacher trying to show there's more to Central America than just Costa Rica. The two good children's books our library carries were written back when the war was still going on, and I've been looking for a newer book to recommend as a library acquisition. Now I have at least one entry for my list, and the paperback version is a bargain for any home library as well. The book has only 32 pages, so while it touches on many subjects, each only gets a two-page spread. Within these limitations, though, the book presents useful information in a narrative form and with minimal bias. The "struggle and civil war" section does a remarkably good job of giving background behind conflicts such as La Guerra de Fútbol ("the Soccer War"). The section on "Native Peoples" gives a good treatment of the assimilation of these groups, with a look at the Pipíl and Lenca peoples in the present day. The book's discussion of the post-peace agreement period is very general, and despite the 2002 copyright, no mention is made of the devastating earthquakes of January and February, 2001; I can only assume the book had already gone to press. Halfway through the book, the book changes from a general overview into a more vignette-style presentation of selected topics under the usual headings ("Music and Dance," etc.). The section on family traditions, for example, gives one or two paragraphs each to baptisms, birthdays, quinceañeras, folk beliefs and "curanderas" (folk healers). In these sections, the presentation is a bit haphazard, but still provides worthwhile material. The arts and crafts section includes the role of cooperatives and political art; another topic, "The Flavors of El Salvador," brings food into a detailed and interesting depiction of daily life. The only part of the book I didn't care for is the ending, a fictional episode of a family visit; it tries a little too hard to tie in every kind of cultural topics via stilted and unnatural dialogue. The youngest readers probably won't mind, but upper elementary and middle schoolers would roll their eyes. The "Life in the Countryside" section is a treasure. The pictures show everyday life much as I saw it when I went to visit my in-laws in early 2002. Nearly every sentence has some detail that made me shout with recognition, such as the mention of using car batteries to power TVs and radios. Oddly, the book doesn't mention the solar collectors powering the batteries, an interesting topic for kids. Also, the book mentioned the scarcity of vehicles, indoor plumbing, and electricity, yet said nothing about phones. A country with so many expatriates is a country that cares a LOT about phones, and life has been profoundly affected by a boom in cell-phones in "el campo," where a phone call used to require an hourlong walk to town. While this series only covers 22 countries so far, the publishers have wisely avoided the tactic of presenting all the "usual suspects" before getting to the lesser known countries. It's refreshing to see countries like Nigeria and the Philippines among these titles -- you expect that with long-running series that cover every single country, but for a series that only covers a fraction of the world's peoples, it's nice to see someone went beyond the obvious.