Which state has prairies, ancient Indian mounds, and the world's third-busiest airport? Report-writers can find answers in this volume of the "It's My State!" series, offering an overview of Illinois's land, history, people, government, and economy. Researchers will discover that Illinois's fertile farmland gives way to rugged terrain in the south, while rivers like the Ohio, Mississippi, and Illinois have encouraged trade and industry; the chief city and port is Chicago on Lake Michigan in the northeast. Though large animals have mostly disappeared, Illinois hosts many birds, especially migrating Canada geese; some (like the yellow-headed blackbird) are nearing extinction. In a brief history chapter, readers learn that Illinois was home to the prehistoric mound city of Cahokia, now in ruins. French, English, and their Indian allies fought over this western territory, the British finally gaining control in 1763. Later, settlers poured in and by 1818, statehood was granted. Booming Illinois has been the site of dramatic events: the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the lethal Chicago fire of 1871, and life-changing inventions like John Deere's steel plow, McCormick's reaper, and huge mail order stores, Sears and Montgomery Ward. Kids can try a simple recipe for corn chowder, made from one of Illinois's major crops. Unfortunately, coverage of the arts is slight: not mentioned is the magnificent Art Institute of Chicago or the world-class Chicago Symphony. Among Illinois's famous citizens are social reformer Jane Addams and jazz musician Miles Davis—teen readers may know Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, but where is influential architect Frank Lloyd Wright? Illustrations are color photos, while sidebars offer notable details (i.e. scientists at the University of Chicago set off the first nuclear chain reaction). Included are a short bibliography, an index, and pages showing the official bird, flag, seal, and song. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
Here is a well-organized, impressive book about the Prairie State. As one whose only venture in Illinois was to Chicago, I was pleased to see the rest of the state presented in an objective, yet positive fashion. It wouldn't be surprising to find this book among travel and tourism titles. Chapter One begins with a general overview, featuring the diverse landscape, waterways, climate and wildlife with beautiful bucolic photographs presenting Illinois as a natural treasure. The bulk of this book contains historical information, as one would expect. From the Mound Builders of 700 A.D. to newer native Americans, the Algonquians to the French and other European settlers, historical information is clearly presented and interspersed with complementary drawings that enhance the content. There is even a suggested project about the Chicago Fire of 1871. Other chapters include the people of Illinois, how government works in Illinois, and making a living today in the state. Following the text are illustrations of the state seal and the state song—both popular assignments in United States history classes. The book is more concise and easier to read than an encyclopedia entry, but just as thorough. 2003, Benchmark Books/Marshall Cavendish,
— Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-These titles are visually appealing and full of facts. Topics targeted in state standards are well covered: physical description, history, people, government, and employment. Headings are used effectively throughout while single- and double-page inserts add interest and information. Most of the full-color photos are attractive, but a few are somewhat dark. Each book also includes a historical craft activity-a model of a longhouse in Maryland, and a diorama of the O'Leary cow story (Great Chicago Fire) in Illinois. Overall, both selections are strong entries for states sections.-Janie Schomberg, Leal Elementary School, Urbana, IL Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.