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Children's LiteratureLewis and Clark, the Gateway Arch, Tom Sawyer—it must be Missouri! 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 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, Missouri's history is briefly narrated, with emphasis on Lewis and Clark, the Santa Fe Trail, and the Civil War, but failing to mention the savage fighting over slavery in Kansas, Border Ruffians, and Jayhawkers. Caves and tornadoes, the Pony Express, and the World's Fair are fascinating, but where are famous Missourians like Scott Joplin, Walt Disney, and Thomas Hart Benton? Middle readers can, however, ponder the Dred Scott case, and enjoy a recipe for gooey butter cake, a St. Louis delicacy. 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 (Mark Twain's boyhood home is pictured, several of his books are noted in the text, and Laura Ingalls Wilder is mentioned). 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