#385 – We Love California! by Gabriella Francine with Solara Vayanian

We Love CaliforniaWe Love California!

by Gabriella Francine

 .  .  . . with Solara Vayanian

Phil Velikan, illustrator

Big Blue Marble Books

5 Stars

Back Cover:   Join Olivia and Avery as they take a make-believe journey through the Golden State to learn more about the symbols and the history of California.  From the state fossil to the state capital, We Love California! offers a fun way for kids to learn more about their home state.

Opening:  “Are you ready, Avery?” says Olivia “This will be a great adventure.”

“Are we really going to collect all of the symbols of the State of California?” says Avery.

“Yes!  You can be the navigator—and hold the flag up high!”

About the Story:  Avery and Olivia take off on a journey through the State of California.  Along the way, they will meet a Grizzly bear—the state bear—by the name of Cuffy.  Cuffy is a true ambassador.  He travels with the two girls all throughout California looking for the state’s symbols.  From the golden trout—state fish—to the schooner—state boat—Cuffy shows the girls many, many symbols.


What I Thought: I like the beginning of the story.  Two young girls sit in a homemade car, holding a homemade California state flag.  The two are dressed for travel and have the state map on hand.  This is a photograph, not illustration.  Soon they are off, becoming animated characters, while on their journey.  It is a nice way to get kids into the story and give them an idea on how to make up their own travel vehicle.  Dressing up and using props can be a good way to stimulate imaginations.

While traveling through some giant sequoias—the state tree—the girls sing the state song, I Love You, California.  They stop to admire a field of California poppies—the state flower—when a grizzly bear—the state bear—greets the girls, who are immediately scared.  Cuffy eases their minds about any danger he poses and then escorts the girls on a trip all over California, finding state symbols along the way.  Having Cuffy along is nice way of quickly finding all of the symbols, many of which the girls had not known.  The fact that this ambassador is also a state symbol is an added bonus.  (The book about ca state bear snagmy home state of Ohio would be interesting with a buckeye—a fruit—leading the way.)

The illustrations are good and run edge-to-edge.  With a nice blue sky behind the three characters, they drive from place to place.  In the corner of the page is a black-and-white box with a representative symbol and words such as “STATE FISH” or “STATE FLOWER.”  This makes it easy to flip through the pages looking for any particular symbol.  I think this is a nice touch.  In all, the girls find nineteen California symbols from well-known symbols, such as wine and the state seal, to lessor known symbols such as The West Coast Swing—state dance—and the San Joaquin soil—the state soil.


This is a great series of books for kids, if it is a series.  There is no indication just my wishful thinking.  Kids would definitely use such a series in school.  We Love California! is a good asset for home and school libraries.  While kids enjoy the book they might not even realize they are learning.  Part of Big Blue Marble Books’ mission is to “take an active role in making the world a better, safer place for all living things.”  In line with this goal, the publisher is donating a percentage of sales from We Love California to the California Association of Food Banks.

To read more about Big Blue Marble Books, read this article in Publishers Weekly:  http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/56224-big-blue-marble-books-a-press-with-a-mission.html



We Love California!

by Gabriella Francine     goodreads   twitter

with Solara Vayanian

Phil Velikan, illustrator    website    blog   facebook

Big Blue Marble Books    website      facebook

Released October 1, 2013

ISBN:  978-1-938504-01-3

32 pages

Ages: 7 and up


© 2013 by Big Blue Marble Books, used with permission

Text:  Copyright © 2013 by Gabriella Francine

Illustrations:  Copyright © 2013 by Phil Velikan

Photography:  Copyright © 2013 by Holly Kondras


The California Association of Food Banks:  www.cafoodbanks.org





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8 thoughts on “#385 – We Love California! by Gabriella Francine with Solara Vayanian

  1. Pingback: 10 for 10: 2014 Nonfiction Challenge | Kid Lit Reviews

  2. Sounds like a great book! I just don’t like the opening that much – “Are we really going to collect all of the symbols of the State of California?” seems a bit… straightforward. And you said the bear is Cuffy, but the girls call him Gallagher. What’s with that?


    • WEll, it is a non-fiction book with only so much space to get all those symbols in. Plus, they didn’t have you–or me–to help them. I don’t know why no one asks for our expertise. Heck, you’re a publisher author now! Curry livens it up! 🙂

      Wait a sec. Did you say Gallagher? 😯 Have you read this book? What else were you doing at the time? Playing with Legos? Cause there is not a Gallagher in the book. I just checked. Stop laughing, this is not funny. Fact checking my own review, why that;s your job! 😡


  3. Well, this sounds great! I’ve never been to California, but we have some Princesses who live there and My Human Folks go there quite a bit. They might like this book. I wonder if there is one about Texas? That would be cool. Thanks for sharing this!


    • None about Texas, yet. I have never been to California. I heard it was expensive to live there. The book is really nice with all the symbols listed. Curry is a pretty smart bear. What would lead a Texas book? A big fat steak? Or a nice BIG star! Hop in the car next time your human goes to California. It is supposed to be nice and warm nearly all year. Must be a great place to be a dog.

      I have that dog book I promised you coming up pretty soon. I’ll double check to see if there is a ball, but there are lots of your dog friends in it. And it is hilarious! I think you’ll be proud of your canine affiliation when you see this book. Till then . . .


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