Each entry in the "Hello USA" series is similar in format with four narrative sections covering the land, history, people and economy, and the environment. A fifth "All About..." section includes fun and other facts, state song, a recipe, historical timeline, outstanding citizens with pictures and short bios (author and illustrator William Joyce was born in Shreveport), places to visit, annual events, state wildlife and an annotated bibliography of nonfiction and fiction set in the state. The environmental section focuses primarily on Louisiana's wetlands, Mississippi River sediment, levees and keeping the integrity of the coastline. An opening section describes and defines plains, bayous and a delta. A political map showing the principal cities and national forests faces a physical map of geological regions, elevation and other features. A later map indicates principal products but would benefit from being superimposed on a political map so readers see the connections. Separate short sections include ones about Huey Long, free people of color in the 1820s and Jean Lafitte. Illustrations are well chosen from modern, historical, archival and artistic sources. They reflect well the diversity of the population. All in all, this is a useful, specific, varied and well-organized introduction to the state and one that will assist report writers, would-be tourists or the merely curious equally well. Endmatter includes web sites, a glossary and proper names pronunciation guide and an index. 2002, Lerner Publications, $25.26 and $6.95. Ages 9 to 14. Reviewer: Susan Hepler
Gr 3-5-Although not completely rewritten, these revised series entries sport several changes from the earlier editions, in both cosmetics and content. Slightly bigger pages, more spacious layout, and larger fonts with color accents make the books more attractive throughout. The quick-reference section at the end has a new heading and expanded content, including the "Fun Facts" relocated from the front of the book, a "Learn More" component listing books and Web sites, plus "State Song" and "Recipe" pages. Offering gumbo as Louisiana's recipe, however, ignores the difficulty of making a good roux base. Although the four main chapters also have new headings, the changes to these sections are limited to a handful of different illustrations, updated statistical information plugged into the necessary spots, and only two to three paragraphs of new text. The new maps are valuable but by not completely rewriting the texts, the authors miss the opportunity to correct some subtle Eurocentric bias in the history. Although Texas includes a fairly well-balanced inset about Quanah Parker, both volumes underestimate the contributions of their indigenous populations. Likewise, although Louisiana spotlights Free People of Color in an inset, both books tend to focus more on the abolition of slavery in economic terms rather than a tragically overdue, though admittedly nominal, recognition of African Americans' humanity. Still a strong alternative to the "From Sea to Shining Sea" series (Children's), these revised volumes nonetheless have their flaws.-Sean George, St. Charles Parish Library, Luling, LA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.