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Children's LiteratureBoardwalks, Miss America, crossing the Delaware—it must be New Jersey! 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 interesting shows a Depression-era shantytown in industrial Paterson. Although New Jersey's massive industrialization is discussed, the author does not explore its effects (including the Newark race riots of 1967) or, on the other hand, the many historic villages and rural beauties of the state. Arts and artists, richly represented in New Jersey, are given one paragraph (whatever happened to Bruce Springsteen or Judy Blume?). Middle readers will enjoy a sidebar on Campbell's soup and, especially, a recipe for cranberry-oatmeal cookies made with New Jersey cranberries from the Pine Barrens. 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 New Jersey. 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