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The Scrambled States of America


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About the Author

Laurie Keller is the illustrator of Marty Frye, Private Eye and Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions. A freelance artist who graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design, Ms. Keller has always felt destined to write a book about the reorganization of the states. In first grade she rearranged her teacher's seating chart to best meet her needs. It was only a matter of time before she moved on to bigger things.


It's hard to imagine a more engaging (or comical) way to learn the 50 states and their locations than in this auspicious debut from Keller. Dorothy may have thought there's no place like home when she clicked her red ruby slippers, but her native state's wanderlust starts all the trouble here. Kansas is bored ("All day long we just sit here in the middle of the country. We never GO anywhere. we never DO anything") and drafts best friend Nebraska into the cause of stirring things up. Soon they're throwing a potluck party for all the states (the spread includes "Iowa Corn Surprise" and "Boston Baked Beans") and everyone delights in the idea of seeing another part of the country. Keller bestows a unique personality onto each of the states, yet keeps them true to their national identity. Kansas gets to take exotic Hawaii's place ("Aloha, world!"), Wisconsin packs up its famous cheese, Nevada and Mississippi fall in love ("Do you want to become MRS.issippi?" Nevada asks), and in a subtle lesson, Maryland places the Washington Monument and Capitol building carefully in a suitcase ("Are you o.k. in there Mr. President?"). Keller cleverly illustrates the chaos that ensues when the states cross country (e.g., the displaced Great Lakes ask, "Um... where did Michigan go?"). Soon the gang get homesick for their native lands, and New York hails a taxi home, California flies west in a plane, while a hitchhiking Connecticut cops a ride with Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maine. Readers will unwittingly learn more than they bargained for about the (finally) United States, while poring over the endless witty remarks exchanged over state lines. Ages 6-9. (Oct.)

Gr 3-5-A geography lesson par excellence, this clever picture book also offers great extension opportunities for the classroom. Through the voice of Uncle Sam, Keller suggests that the individual states of America have become tired of their physical positions and bored with their contiguous partners. So they decide to switch: Arizona, for example, trades places with South Carolina, Florida with Minnesota, and Kansas with Hawaii. Before long, however, they discover, as Dorothy did in The Wizard of Oz, that there's no place like home, and they all return, amid much mayhem, to their original spots. In following their journeys, children will not only become involved in their stories but will also learn a lot about the "the good old U.S. of A." Keller's imaginative story, her pop-art illustrations that sprawl in and around the text, and her amusing asides will have kids quickly chiming in with sayings of their own. The clever personifications of the states will stimulate students to research the individual characteristics of their own homes, as well as those of the other states. A graphic fact chart is appended along with a montage of funny cartoons that show mixed-up sites and mascots, as Kansas sunflowers cross the Golden Gate Bridge, Florida oranges race Kentucky Derby horses, and the Statue of Liberty greets the faces on Mt. Rushmore.-Barbara Elleman, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI

"Charming." --The New York Times"It's hard to imagine a more engaging (or comical) way to learn the 50 states and their locations than in this auspicious debut from Keller." --Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)"Will elicit laughs from all those who thought geography was boring." --Kirkus Reviews "A wacky and absolutely painless look at geography." --School Library Journal

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