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Children's LiteratureThis alphabet book about Iowa, the "Hawkeye State," is one of a series offered by a Michigan-based, self-described "national publisher of regional books." This series so far includes alphabet books about more than thirty states, from A is for Arches: A Utah Alphabet, to Y is for Yellowhammer: An Alabama Alphabet. It is a neat concept for bringing together meaningful historical, cultural and natural facts of each state. The Iowa entry nimbly ranges over subjects as diverse as "American Gothic," the famous painting of an Iowa farmer and his daughter by Grant Wood, the Eastern Goldfinch—the state bird; the history of Iowa's statehood and its largest cities, Des Moines and Iowa City, and Iowa's claim as the birthplace of Bix Beiderbecke, Carrie Chapman Catt and Herbert Hoover. Newton, Iowa, under "M," is where Frederick Louis Maytag started his Maytag washing machine company. Under 'Q' we learn that Cedar Rapids is the founding home of the Quaker Oats Company. The author might have done better to stick with her well-researched prose; factual information provided in columns is interesting and informative, while weak two-line verses above the illustrations detract from the text. Lavish paintings, in predominately earth tones, fill each page. A brief "field of facts" at the back of the book quizzes readers on all they have just learned about Iowa. 2003, Sleeping Bear Press, Ages 4 to 8.
—J. H. Diehl