Part of the "Celebrate the States" series, this title attempts to present in compact form everything students will want to know about California. While the author is quick to say that the state is a place where people live their daily lives like everyone else, there is an emphasis on the exotic—Disneyland, movies, and millionaires. To be fair, the usual topics are covered in six chapters: "Geography" (impressive), "History" (short overview), "People" (multicultural), "Government" (crime and education), "Economics" (ups and downs), and "Landmarks" (quick tour of California). Except for film-making, there is little discussion of the arts—nothing about California's painting, sculpture, dance, or music, except two pictures (without elaboration), and one mention of conductor Seiji Ozawa, whose career does not include California (who checks these facts?). The San Francisco Symphony's Michael Tilson Thomas and the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Esa-Pekka Salonen are omitted. Sports information is slim—readers will not find out about baseball or football teams, though there is one picture of skiers. As for ethnic groups, Latinos and African-Americans get the most accurate though limited coverage, and in the upbeat section on Asian immigrants, the author omits the harsh treatment and suffering of pioneer Chinese laborers, to say nothing of the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II. The usual lists of facts and famous citizens cover many pages, interspersed with few pictures. Teachers who consider assigning this text will need to do some extensive supplementing for a more balanced picture of this vital section of our country.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7These attractive series titles provide standard state coverage: geography, history, government and economy, population, achievements (noteworthy individuals), and landmarks. A final section contains basic facts (nickname, motto, etc.) and interesting tidbits of information. Each author writes simply and with enthusiasm about her subject, making it clear that there is more to the state than its most famous city (cities). All three authors are guilty of hyperbole, and there are occasional unsubstantiated assertions posing as facts. Also, the rationale is unclear for deciding who to focus on as a notable personage in the texts as opposed to those mentioned in the brief section of state stars at the end. The good-to-excellent, full-color and black-and-white photos and reproductions are plentiful; however, they do not always correspond with the text. Some of the maps do not have adequate keys, making it difficult to figure out what a certain shading represents. Overall, these are not fatal flaws, and most collections needing to update their holdings will want at least their own state title, if not the entire set.Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-These new editions reflect changes that have occurred within the past 10 years, but the basic format of the series is the same. Each book opens with a set of quotes from famous authors and past residents and concludes with brief biographical profiles of the "state stars." Additional video and Web site references have been added. There are now complete chapters on government and the economy. Other new features include maps of the state's counties and population centers, as well as a chart showing a breakdown of its workforce. The sections on recipes, folktales, and the state song have been retained. All of the photographs are new and are in full color. This series is similar in scope to the "World Almanac Library of the States" series (Gareth Stevens). Both have high-quality photos, but the World Almanac books seem cluttered because so much information is packed into each page. Well researched and comprehensive, these books will be excellent for reports.-Polly L. Kotarba, Gordon Elementary School Library, Bellaire, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.