The Manga Guide to Databases by Mana Takahashi
Illustrated by Shoko Azuma
$19.95 from No Starch Press
This book has either a minor plot hole or a lying fairy, but I’m not sure which.
Since my job now requires that I use databases, I’ve been learning the basics of SQL; I have several excellent, yet dry, books on the subject. Then I ran across the Manga Guide to Databases; while I’m not a fan of manga, I do like graphic novels and I was curious as to how they would approach the subject.
The book follows a simple storyline about the Kingdom of Kod, which produces and exports fruit. It is the job of Princess Ruruna to manage the data involved in the entire fruit business, and she is feeling overwhelmed, to say the least! Then her parents, who are traveling abroad, send her a book on databases, which comes complete with a database fairy who instructs her in the ways of SQL. Naturally, there is a romantic subplot as well.
The book is illustrated by a professional manga artist; I don’t know enough about the genre to compare the art to other manga, but it works for me. The story, as mentioned, is pretty simple, but it works effectively to break up what can be a dry subject. The book starts out by exploring what a database is, then narrows that down to a relational database. We then move on to database design, SQL, operating a database (including the ACID principle and data recovery), then finish by talking about various database applications.
Naturally, the book isn’t going to tell you everything you need to know about databases – you won’t learn how to set up a SQL server, for example, so you’ll need one already available if you want to try out the commands given here – but it presents a nice high-level overview of databases, making it a good introduction to the theoretical concepts.