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Children's LiteratureIt is a challenge to make a state overview book more than a humdrum rehash of hills and history. This volume covers the bases—physical landscape, history, government and "people and places," but also includes enough interesting details to help readers—particularly ones who live far away and have no immediate sense of the state—envision Missouri as a real place. In 1895, for example, St. Louis was the site of the world's first car accident; the 1904 World's Fair there brought the introduction of cotton candy. The book has a user-friendly layout, with clear text divisions and lots of photographs, drawings and maps. The history section includes particularly good illustrations, although the government chapter relies mostly on shots of buildings. "Find Out More" boxes end with a question encouraging children to look further; unfortunately these challenges are issued primarily in the first chapter (covering land), with one more in the history chapter. Their absence in the government or people and places chapters, which focus more on the present condition of the state, points up a problem existent in many "state" books: showing the state's relevance in the present day, not simply as a historical instrument in the making of the country. Overall, however, this volume is a competent reference for middle and upper elementary students. It is one in the "From Sea to Shining Sea" state series, and includes a glossary, timeline, index and listings of pertinent facts. 2003, Children's Press/Scholastic, Ages 9 to 12.
— Diane Frook