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Children's LiteratureCornhuskers, sandhill cranes, the Great Plains—it must be Nebraska! 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 shows cities and reservations while the second charts major geographical features. Since the text consists of short, declarative sentences, fluent readers may find it less than appealing. Illustrations are prints and photographs; in this volume, the most striking shows mushroom-like rock formations at Toadstool Geologic Park. The abbreviated history chapter discusses migration along the Oregon Trail and eventual statehood, but not the brutal treatment of Native Americans such as chiefs Red Cloud and Crazy Horse. Also omitted are famous Nebraskans like the founder of Arbor Day, the first Native American woman doctor, writers Willa Cather and Mari Sandoz, and actors Henry Fonda and Marlon Brando. Middle readers can ponder a photo of a pioneer family's sod dwelling and enjoy a recipe for fruity cream pie made with Kool-Aid, Nebraska's official soft drink. Special features include an almanac of 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 Nebraska. 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