One day, Kansas wakes up grumpy. The other 49 states are stretching, yawning, and pouring maple syrup onto each other's pancakes, but irritable Kansas announces to his kindly neighbor Nebraska that life is dull and changes must
be made: "All day long we just sit here in the middle of the country. We never GO anywhere. We never DO anything, and we NEVER meet any NEW states!" Nebraska, sick of hearing North Dakota and South Dakota bicker all the time, agrees to help organize a party for all the states. It's a hit! Late into the evening, Idaho and Virginia get up onto the stage and suggest that all the states change places. What a state of affairs. Minnesota, who switches places with Florida, gets a sunburn. Kansas, having traded places with Hawaii, gets lonely and sings some soggy blues so sad that a shark sheds a mournful tear offshore. Nevada and Mississippi fall in love. Despite the initial excitement, the new arrangement just doesn't feel right. The states manage to swim, fly, bike, and hitchhike their way home, and everyone goes to bed in the right place--even Kansas is happy to be home after such an adventure. This wacky, thoroughly engaging tale of mixed-up geography is a good bet for some awards. Perhaps best of all, the large format and riot of detail allow for plenty of amusing asides. Books that claim to "make geography fun" usually have to be taken with a dose of skepticism: so often, the teaching is there and the entertainment isn't. This delightfully quirky and original book shows how it should be done. (Ages 4 and older) --Richard Farr
From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.