An oversized board book with an animal, vehicle, food, activity, and local celebration for each state—capped by a jigsaw-puzzle map.
The first five double-page spreads are laid out as brightly colored alphabetical grids, with a single fact and explanatory comment, plus accompanying cartoon image, in each state’s assigned box. Rather than go with “official” selections, Balkan makes her own: the opening gallery of wildlife, for instance, begins with bottlenose dolphin for Alabama (“These social animals can be found in Perdido Bay”), closes with moose for Wyoming, and in between highlights creatures including the Highland cow for Minnesota, the “rare and sacred” white buffalo for North Dakota, and the great white shark for New Jersey. Along with a proper note that many of these animals are found in other states too, Balkan challenges viewers to pick out the ones that fly, that swim, and that are legendary or extinct. From there it’s on to “50 Things That Go,” 50 foodstuffs (including “tagine treats” for Maryland), 50 ways to “Get Moving,” and festivals—many with immigrant or Native American connections (the selection of Georgia’s Uncle Remus Museum in this last category is something of a misstep). The easy-peasy jigsaw of all the states together is both laid down over a labeled image and comes with a visual key showing the states silhouettes.
A broadly inclusive invitation to crawl over our country’s history, natural and otherwise…and maybe dig a little deeper. (Novelty board book. 4-8)