author of the Newbery Honor book Joey Pigza Loses Jack Gantos
Laurie Keller is a genius. My daughter, Mabel, and I have memorized so many of her riffs and funny lines that we have created our own Laurie Keller home theater of gut-busting humor. The Scrambled States of America is a must-read classic of American picture book comedyand The Scrambled States of America Talent Show is a second helping of clever lines and laughs.
"Keller endows each of the 50 states with a unique personality and, as all of them develop a case of wanderlust, she presents geography lessons as clever quips exchanged across state lines," said PW in our Best Books citation. Ages 4-9. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's hard to imagine a more engaging (or comical) way to learn the 50 states and their locations than in this auspicious debut from Keller. Dorothy may have thought there's no place like home when she clicked her red ruby slippers, but her native state's wanderlust starts all the trouble here. Kansas is bored ("All day long we just sit here in the middle of the country. We never GO anywhere. we never DO anything") and drafts best friend Nebraska into the cause of stirring things up. Soon they're throwing a potluck party for all the states (the spread includes "Iowa Corn Surprise" and "Boston Baked Beans") and everyone delights in the idea of seeing another part of the country. Keller bestows a unique personality onto each of the states, yet keeps them true to their national identity. Kansas gets to take exotic Hawaii's place ("Aloha, world!"), Wisconsin packs up its famous cheese, Nevada and Mississippi fall in love ("Do you want to become MRS.issippi?" Nevada asks), and in a subtle lesson, Maryland places the Washington Monument and Capitol building carefully in a suitcase ("Are you o.k. in there Mr. President?"). Keller cleverly illustrates the chaos that ensues when the states cross country (e.g., the displaced Great Lakes ask, "Um... where did Michigan go?"). Soon the gang get homesick for their native lands, and New York hails a taxi home, California flies west in a plane, while a hitchhiking Connecticut cops a ride with Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maine. Readers will unwittingly learn more than they bargained for about the (finally) United States, while poring over the endless witty remarks exchanged over state lines. (PW best book of 1998)
Children's Literature - Melinda Medley Sprinkle
The fifty states of America are bored with their normal positions on the map. They are depressed because they never get to go anywhere or see anything except their neighboring states. Uncle Sam tells this whimsical story as the states devise a plan that will change everything, including their location. The states throw the first annual states party, and everyone is invited. The big event soon arrives and all the states mingle and get to know each other. Virginia and Idaho create a plan to switch places, and before the affair is over, all the states decide to swap spots. They are finally going to venture forth to other parts of the country, but there is always a price to pay for happiness. At first, everyone is pleased with their new locations, but then each state begins to realize that nothing is the way they thought it was going to be. Florida was too cold up north, Kansas was surrounded by water, and nature seemed to place a damper on every state. There was only one alternative. You guessed it! They must return to their correct spot on the map. This unusual story introduces children to all of the 50 states in a humorous and comical way. Each page is packed full of state and geography facts. It also is a lovely read-aloud for children who are just learning to identify the 50 states of the USA. A full-color map and state fact pages are also included.
Children's Literature - Victoria Ryles
This is a companion book to The Scrambled States of America, both written by the youthful Laurie Keller. The states are transformed into zany and lovable characters with little stick hands and legs and funny expressions on their faces. They react with excitement when New York wakes up from a dream one night and suggests they have a talent show, all except Georgia who has stage fright. Dr. Globe recommends Georgia try picturing the audience in their underwear to help her deal with her stage fright. Crazy antics and clever quips ensue and Georgia survives, thanks to a surprise ending. Besides having fun with the hilarious illustrations, youngsters will be exposed to geography in a positive mannerbecoming familiar with the shapes, relative sizes and names of the states as well as concepts of counties and cities. The back and front covers provide statehood dates and state abbreviations. Hopefully readers will enjoy this amusing geography experience and will become curious to learn more about the states. It's a thought anyway! Reviewer: Victoria Ryles
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
It may seem crazy and wild but the states of America are having a talent show. If you have already read and enjoyed The Scrambled States of America, you may also love this sequel with its multiple plots, antics, and jokes. For the show, some of the states work as the stage crew while other states provide the talent. For instance, Pennsylvannia plays the Liberty Bell, Michigan does a ventriloquist act, and Wyoming and Tennessee impersonate Oklahoma. While practicing her juggling act with California, Idaho, and Massachusetts, Georgia cannot seem to keep the fruits up in the air. She has a case of stage fright. What will she do? Is there a cure? Catch the act to find out what happens. Bright illustrations, interesting information, and side jokes are located throughout the book. The end-pages feature the statehood dates and abbreviations along with Vermont in comical spots asking different states their abbreviations. There is even humor to be found on the cataloging-in-publication page. For those who are familiar with the romance between Nevada and Mississippi, it continues in this sequel. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung
School Library Journal
New York wakes up in the middle of the night and shouts, "Hey, everyone-let's have a talent show!" The other states jump right in to prepare and perform their acts. Illustrations and layouts are similar to those in The Scrambled States of America Holt, 1998), with cartoon characters shaped like state maps dancing and prancing on stick legs and wisecracking all over the pages. There's plenty to giggle at: Texas trying to skate under Missouri's Gateway Arch, Pennsylvania playing a "peppy tune" on the Liberty Bell, and California checking in with his agent. Because there are 50 characters, the action can become confusing. It's easy enough to figure out that the "New States on the Block" boy band is made up of states that begin with the word "new," but not as clear why North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia, and Louisiana are members of the Montanettes, a singing group with Vegas-style feathers. There are references to the previous book, so it's helpful to remember that Mississippi and Nevada have fallen in love. Where it is popular, this one will also have fans. It is clever, lightly educational, and hip, but with a slightly weaker premise, it is just a bit more...scrambled.-Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA
Ten years after their memorable debut the states once again pop open their wide eyes, leap up on pipestem limbs and strut their stuff-this time on stage in a display of talent that ranges from the heartthrob singing of New York and New Mexico as "New States On The Block" to Michigan using its Upper Peninsula in a ventriloquist act and Wyoming linking with Tennessee to impersonate Oklahoma. Rendering her performers with flashbulb intensity and reasonably accurate borders, Keller sends them gamboling with abandon across spreads strewn with hilarious side comments (Idaho: "Does this grass skirt make my BUTTE look big?"), as well as abbreviations and statehood dates. Closing with a bit of traditional stagecraft by having shy Georgia visualize fellow states in their underwear to get over a case of stage fright, this exuberant geographical jamboree will definitely leave readers in a state. (Picture book. 6-8)
This amusing geography-inspired picture book is a fine companion to The Scrambled States of America.