A quick, easy, but essentially flabby survey of the world's man-made waterways. After a preliminary nod at drainage and irrigation canals, Russell skims over the major ones used for transportation. He notes that many of the American canals dug in the 1800s were abandoned with the coming of the railroad, points out that the Pennsylvania Canal linked up with railroads to take specially built ships through the mountains, and concentrates, reasonably, on the Erie. Technical-minded children will be disappointed, however, by the dearth of construction and engineering detail; Russell devotes more space to the opening celebration. Political questions are even more conspicuously slighted in the later descriptions of the Suez (""Since the opening wars and other troubles have affected [its] use"") and the Panama Canal--""governed through a company that takes care of"" everything in the zone. (There's no mention of treaties currently up for ratification.) With a manageable quantity of facts, maps, and explanations (i.e., how locks work), this is an unexciting classroom supplement for children considered too young for Boardman's Canals.