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Children's LiteratureValley Forge, Amish buggies, the Steelers—it must be Pennsylvania! 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 the other charts major geographical features. Since the text consists of short, declarative sentences, fluent readers may find it less than appealing; illustrations are historic prints and color photos. In this volume, the most striking illustration is a close-up of a burnished Liberty Bell and a view of an Amish farmer loading his wagon in Lancaster County. Pennsylvania has such a long, varied history and so many places of interest that it is hard to do it justice in such limited space. Students would benefit from more information on Pennsylvania artists such as Marian Anderson, Alexander Calder, and August Wilson, not to mention the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Middle readers will enjoy a sidebar on Hershey's chocolate and a recipe for Shoo-Fly cake, a Pennsylvania Dutch treat. 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 Pennsylvania. 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