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Book Reviews

Updated Wednesday, 02-Oct-2013 15:55:38 EDT

Vanna's Dance
By Maria Almudevar-van Santen
Published by Trafford Publishing
Available through for $19.95 CDN
Available in English or French
Ages 4 to 12

Inspiring and heartwarming, the story Vanna's Dance by Maria Almudevar-van Santen is one that gives hope to all who read it. Written about a young Cambodian girl, Vanna, the tale tells of how she loved to hear stories told by her friend, Chea Chheng, and how she happily fed the chickens in her family's yard every day. She loved the silly way the chickens behaved and Vanna always danced as she fed them—until one terrible day when she stepped on a landmine in her own yard.

Vanna is taken to a hospital and it is a long time until she is able to go home. Through stories of strength amidst weaknesses her friend tells her when she returns home, Vanna is able to find hope. Her story is one of encouragement to those who may have lost hope in themselves; while Vanna thought she could no longer walk, her friend gives her confidence in knowing, although she may have lost her leg, her happy spirit will be ever-present. Nearly every page is decorated with colorful art—all created by children in grades one to eight.

A Guide to Mine Action
Davide Orifici, Project Manager
Published by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining
Published July 2003, Updated January 2004
Available gratis through the GICHD Web site,

At just over 200 pages, A Guide to Mine Action provides a thorough discussion of what mines are and how they have been used. It discusses the history of mine action, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and stockpile destruction. Mine risk education, victim assistance, humanitarian demining, capacity development for mine action groups, information management in mine action and socio-economic approaches to mine action are covered in depth. The Guide also discusses international law and its effect on mine action. Finally, it includes a large glossary of terms and acronyms and several appendixes covering the various conventions, policies and protocols.

This book is not designed for the beginner. It was created to give a thorough overview of landmine action to diplomats, donors, lawyers, practitioners and scholars, as well as journalists in the key aspects of mine action. A Guide to Mine Action is a handy reference guide that should be included in every mine action library.

The Landmine Action Smart Book,
2nd Edition

Christine Stephan, editor
Published by James Madison University's Mine Action Information Center
Available from the JMU MAIC,
Also available for free download (Adobe PDF) format

This 40-page primer on landmines and mine action is much more concise and user-friendly than the first version. The second edition comes in a smaller, more manageable size and is in the style of a frequently-asked-questions guide for the mine action novice.

The Landmine Action Smart Book asks and answers questions on various topics and even includes a glossary of terms and information on getting more involved in the cause. The book starts with the basics, answering fundamental questions like "What is a landmine?" and "What is mine action?" and then delves into the various aspects of the landmine issue. The Smart Book gives readers a short, concise background on four of the five major pillars of mine action (stockpile destruction is not covered), explaining things like surveys, mechanical clearance and international treaties regulating landmines in terms that are easy to understand. A timeline of mine action milestones is also included for a quick-reference overview of the major achievements in the field from 1980 through 2004.