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Children's LiteratureMagnolias, catfish, Delta blues—it must be Mississippi! Capstone's "Land and Liberty" series (about the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.) covers the usual topics— geography and climate, state history and government, the people and their culture—but the slender volumes offer an overview rather than an opportunity to delve into the differences that make each state unique. Maps are restricted to two, one showing cities, the other charting major geographical features. Since the text consists of short, declarative sentences, fluent readers may find it less than appealing; illustrations are mostly clear color photos, adequate, but not exciting. In this volume, the most striking captures Elvis Presley's 1957 performance in Tupelo. Although the text offers a brief look at racism and civil rights in Mississippi, students must look elsewhere for information on Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers and his killer, and the three civil rights workers murdered near Philadelphia. Surely readers should learn that Oprah Winfrey and Muppeteer Jim Henson hail from Mississippi, as well as famous blues artists Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and B. B. King. Kids can, however, ponder a photo of Klan members and follow a recipe for deep chocolate Mississippi mud cake. Special features include an almanac (facts about the state), a short timeline, a glossary, and a bibliography, which, unfortunately, does not list works of fiction that might enrich understanding of the history and people of Mississippi. Compared to some others, the price of this series is modest, but so is its usefulness. 2004, Capstone, Ages 9 to 13.
—Barbara L. Talcroft