by Gabriella Francine
. . . . with Solara Vayanian
Phil Velikan, illustrator
Big Blue Marble Books
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 my 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
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE? FOLLOW THE AUTHOR, ARTIST AND PUBLISHER BELOW!..
with Solara Vayanian
Released October 1, 2013
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
DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY