A pet-store dog tired of not having a home escapes and heads across the country in search of one.
Austin, who appears to be some sort of terrier, explores the country by region, beginning in the Northeast with Maine. But although each state has some fascinating tidbit to share (some more substantial than others), none is a perfect fit for Austin. Hershey, Pennsylvania, is the home of Hershey chocolate; the world’s largest fire hydrant is in Columbia, South Carolina; and a town in West Virginia hosts an annual water-tasting competition. While many of the early states feature some solid facts, their overall relevance seems to decline as Austin’s search goes on, each state reduced to one or two, sometimes clichéd, bits of trivia (Alaska’s Iditarod, New Mexico’s hot air balloon festival, the hula in Hawaii). Each state entry presents the outline of the state, the capital clearly labeled, but readers will have to turn to the endpapers to see where each state fits into the larger map of the U.S. (Endpapers also label the capitals, block the regions by color, and show Austin’s route.) Cartoon ink illustrations colored in Photoshop use panels and spreads to cram as many states as possible into limited space.
Not the best introduction to the country in terms of either facts or a geography lesson. (Informational picture book. 4-8)