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Children's LiteratureGlaciers, copper mines, Little Big Horn—it must be Montana! 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 and reservations, 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 depicts Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park. Montana's colorful history and spectacular scenery and wildlife, presented here in abbreviated form, cry out for further research by students. Courageous congresswoman Jeanette Rankin and artist Charles Russell are rightly featured, but where are Gary Cooper, Mike Mansfield, A. B. Guthrie, Montana's tough frontierswomen, or even the woolly mammoth? Middle readers will shudder at a sidebar on the toxic Berkeley Pit; more pleasantly, a recipe for black cherry pie, made with Montana's main fruit crop, offers a possibility for classroom cooking. 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 Montana. 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