Robert Beveridge's Reviews > The Manga Guide to Databases

The Manga Guide to Databases by Mana Takahashi
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Jan 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010-goal-list, cuy-co-pub-lib, finished

Mana Takahashi, The Manga Guide to Databases (No Starch Press, 2004)

No Starch Press, one of the great repositories of Linux knowledge in America, bills itself as “the finest in geek entertainment.” True, that, and they have outdone themselves in this regard by importing, translating, and publishing Ohmsha Press' edumanga series of books. I've been intrigued by these for a few years, and I figured the best place to start would be with one where I'm conversant with the material; that way I could make comments that are at least halfway intelligent. (Assuming any of my comments are halfway intelligent; I leave that to the reader to decide.) The Manga Guide to Databases was the obvious choice, given that I've been a database administrator/developer/what-have-you for fifteen years now. And if the rest of the series is as solid as this one, then I may have found a new meaning for the phrase “made of awesome.” If I were a teacher (I don't have the patience for it) doing an intro to databases course, this would be one of the texts.

The setting is the Kingdom of Kon, a small island nation whose GNP come from fruit exports. While the king and queen are off touring some of the nations that import Kon's fruit, they've left Princess Ruruna and her trusty aide Cain in charge. When an increase in the price of apples goes horribly wrong, Ruruna realizes Kon needs a better way to manage its business. Enter Tico the Database Fairy, who spends the book teaching Ruruna and Cain about the benefits of storing business data in a relational database, teaching them how to design, construct, and use a simple business database. There's also a romantic subplot with Ruruna and the prince of a neighboring kingdom that adds a bit of interest for folks who look at this sort of thing as a chore.

Simply put, this is great stuff. There are a few things that could probably have been done better (Takahashi uses FROM x,y WHERE clauses instead of using JOINs, for example), but I assume some things were done the way they are for maximum portability; JOINs aren't terribly common in MyISAM databases, for example (at least judging by the MySQL books I've been reading). Still, if you're using this as a text for teaching a class, you can add in supplementary material about the bits that aren't here, or that are taught differently than you'd do it. But as far as getting students to read and understand the material, you may be hard-pressed to find a book that's this fun anywhere else, and students who have fun while learning are happy students. Well worth your time. ****
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