From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9-In 1904, St. Louis hosted a fair to commemorate the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. In the tradition of Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, it was a grand affair that promoted the advances of humankind. The event's positive influences included the introduction (actual or legendary) of such delights as cotton candy, ice-cream cones, hot dogs, and Dr. Pepper. However, Jackson makes clear that the fair perpetuated negative messages by allowing incidents of racism and exploiting rather than celebrating several ethnic groups that were forced to appear in "anthropological" exhibits. The book begins with a ride on the Ferris wheel on opening day. After an explanation of how this proud city attracted an international audience, the author provides a tour of the themed palaces (e.g., fine arts, transportation, machinery) and the innovations they contained, the international exhibits, and the midway attractions. The exposition also hosted the young modern Olympics, and the modest games are briefly described. While the fair captured the imagination of many and inspired sentimentality manifested in tons of souvenirs and a Judy Garland movie, its hold over kids in the current century is limited. However, where an interest exists, this balanced title and its many black-and-white photographs of the exposition's marvels will suffice.-Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library, IL
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Gr. 4-7. In 1904 nearly 20 million people attended the St. Louis World's Fair. Some went to marvel at modern technology and to visit elaborate exhibits of history and culture. Others were drawn by the rides, entertainment, and special events, including the Olympic Games or novelties such as hot dogs, Dr. Pepper, and ice cream cones. Thomas Edison helped set up the lights. Geronimo sold autographs. Scott Joplin performed despite being denied the best venue. And the enthusiastic President Theodore Roosevelt went twice. The chronological arrangement gives the book a narrative framework, though Jackson frequently stops to explain interesting historical sidelights and controversies, such as the unfair treatment of African Americans and the exploitation of native peoples from North America, South America, and Africa. Besides learning a great deal about the exposition, readers will gradually gain a fuller understanding of America 100 years ago. Though they are interesting, the black-and-white photos can't quite capture the excitement of this otherwise well-designed, lively introduction to the fair. Source notes, a bibliography, a calendar of events, a list of world's fairs and expositions, and recommended fiction and nonfiction reading are appended. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved