A description of salient geographic features and a brief but firm account of Venezuelan history precedes a balanced, informative, appreciative look at Venezuelan life today. The obligatory description of holidays and entertainment is unusually detailed and vivid, a substitute for being on the spot; on the other hand, the problems of ""workaday Venezuela"" are not slighted: typical migratory peasant Raul Luis Davila (who moves every few years when the soil wears out) and his cousin Jesus, foreman in a Valencia textile factory, demonstrate different modes of living and the difficulties faced by a campesino who would assay the city. There are sharper-than-usual descriptions also of Caracas (with due recognition of architect Villanueva's contribution), the western and eastern cities and their adjacent regions (particularly the burgeoning Guiana Highlands). Then a recap of present problems bearing on the future (education, land reform, income gap) and profiles of famous Venezuelans Andres Bello, Romulo Gallegos, Romulo Betancourt. The book's one lack--recognition of the instability of Venezuela's democracy--may perhaps be a consequence of its concentration on topics most meaningful to a younger child; for its intended age level, it's the best introduction available.