Luxembourg: Enchantment Of The World, by Ann Heinrichs
What does Scholastic want people to think of Luxembourg? This book title was so interesting to the publisher that two separate authors wrote two versions of this book for the market of young readers who are in a geography class and need to learn about the various nations of the world and happen to come across Luxembourg while needing to know about it. As a child, my local newspaper would regularly run a feature that gave a bit of information about foreign countries on a weekly basis and I always enjoyed reading that, and that sort of reader is going to likely appreciate a book like this one. If this is not a difficult book to read it is certainly a book that can open up the imagination of people to travel as well as seeing how it is that people in other countries live, and that is often good enough to make someone at least a bit more cosmopolitan, which is a good thing so long as it is not taken to extremes. The fact that publishers find a market for this book indicates that there are enough readers to appreciate the efforts. I know I did, even if I’m far older than this book’s target market.
This book is a short one at a bit more than 100 pages and it is divided into ten chapters and other supplemental material. The book begins with a discussion of how the people of Luxembourg have made themselves citizens of the world (1) while belonging to a small nation. The author then turns her attention to discuss the mountains, valleys, and hills that shape the landscape of the country and determine what economic opportunities are possible with the land (2). There is a look at Luxembourg’s location as the green heart of Europe in the region of the Ardennes with a lot of forests still remaining (3) as well as the growth of the nation, or more accurately the shrinking from a large duchy to a much smaller one (4) over time. The author discusses the governing of Luxembourg (5), the wealth of Luxembourg in its banking and other services (6), as well as the desire of the people of the nation to stay as they are (7) reflected in their national motto. The author also turns her attention to the spiritual roots of the country in Roman Catholicism that is nonetheless tolerant of other faiths (8), the culture and traditions of the country, some of which are entertaining (9), as well as the challenge of building a future while respecting the past (10), after which there is a timeline, fun facts, suggestions for further reading, and an index.
In reading a book like this it is important to note that books exist for reasons. What reasons would someone have for writing a book about a small country? In the case of Luxembourg, there are at least several aspects of the country and its culture that make it appealing for those who want to write books for young readers. Among them is the internationalist approach of Luxembourg that combines business policies to increase wealth, commitment to international organizations, a multilingual approach to education, as well as a strong preference for diplomacy over force. And yet, if one is a shrewd reader, one can recognize concerns about immigration being expressed as well as a firm desire to stay as one is and to appreciate what is lasting, whether that be environmental beauty or traditional religious beliefs, or a long-ruling dynasty of Grand Dukes. So although it can be seen that the author has some interests that she focuses on with regards to Luxembourg, the nation itself offers a complex relationship between a small nation in a vulnerable position and a much larger world in which it seeks to survive as it is being involved in the world but not swallowed up by larger neighbors who would deny it its quirky identity.