This California-themed children’s activity book provides information on the state’s history, animals, and more through coloring pages, stickers, and puzzles.
California is a huge state, matching the big format of this work, with 368 full-size pages packed with information, black-and-white line drawings to color, puzzles to complete, and 253 stickers. (Silhouettes on the appropriate drawings read “PLACE STICKER HERE.”) With some exceptions, the drawing style is cartoonish; both adult and animal figures have exaggerated, childlike features, such as big heads, wide-set eyes, and toothy, open-mouthed grins. Sixteen chapters cover topics including California’s prehistory, European exploration, missions, places of interest, animals, festivals, parks, food, and activities. The opening chapter, “Characters of California,” provides coloring pages (but no additional information) depicting such figures as Maxie Mammoth; Yuki, a Native American; and Soul Deadbones, a sugar-skull man wearing a sombrero. These often correspond to other pages (for example, Soul Deadbones goes with the Día de los Muertos entry), but no cross-references are provided. In the remaining chapters, each page usually includes a headline and a few sentences of explanation, along with a picture to color or a puzzle to solve. Sometimes Drenth (Dogs Don’t, 2017, etc.) makes only a tenuous connection to the state’s history, as when a page on San Francisco’s Chinatown in the Northern California chapter is followed by a maze titled “Help the ninja find the path to his lunch.” What do ninjas, whether the original Japanese feudal mercenaries or the pop-culture variety, have to do with the Bay Area? Similarly, the illustrations by Cardona (Puerto Rico Coloring Learning Activity Book, 2013, etc.) sometimes lack accuracy; Yuki, for example, wears deerskin leggings, although Yuki men wore only an apron-like piece of deerskin. But children, less picky about such matters, can enjoy the assortment of activities the book offers, the bite-sized factoids, and perhaps especially the colorful stickers, which are vivid, lively, and fun.
With its generous format and variety, this work should keep kids happily occupied for hours while learning a few things about California.