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Children's LiteratureSnowy peaks, salmon, the spotted owl—it must be Oregon! 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. Photos in Oregon are mostly well-chosen; for example, a giant sand castle at Cannon Beach and the white Art Deco capitol in Salem. The author stresses the abundance of natural resources and scenic grandeur in Oregon and the state's pioneering efforts to preserve this heritage. Information on the arts is confined to a sentence on the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, while Oregonians like Beverly Cleary, Philip Knight (founder of Nike), and Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, are ignored. Middle readers will enjoy a sidebar on climbing Mount Hood and a recipe for a tasty berry cobbler with fresh Oregon berries. 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 (like Cleary's) that might enrich understanding of the history and people of Oregon. 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