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Missions, Minors, and Moviemakers in the Golden State

From the For Kids series

by Katy S. Duffield

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-56976-532-6
Publisher: Chicago Review

The title says it all, almost, about "The Golden State," from early history to the near-present.

Covering many topics with sidebars and illustrations to supplement the main text, as well as supplying 21 activities, largely crafts, such a book might be used as a text for elementary-school classes. But there are many elements that weaken its usefulness. The inclusion of facts seems scattershot; for instance, the book contains a "California First Facts" that lists the "Number of Dentist Offices (2008)" but does not mention the state flower, state bird, state animal or state flag—surely of more use and interest to students than dentists. Throughout, information is abbreviated and feels dumbed down, though the author has been fair in discussing issues about Junípero Serra, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the anti-foreigner laws during the Gold Rush and after, the treatment of minorities and the destruction of native populations by Anglo and Spanish invaders. But without a tribal map, how can readers know what areas the Maidu or Kashia or Coast Miwok or Ohlone inhabited? Without a general state map and/or textual description, how can readers know what areas are covered by geographical terms such as northern, southern or central California? As for the activities, they are poorly planned and do little to enhance the straightforward (one might say dull) prose. 

Caveat emptor. (bibliography, websites, index [not seen]) (Nonfiction. 8-12)