Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Train of States

Sis, Peter. 2004. TRAIN OF STATES. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0060578386 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

Arranged chronologically from the time each state entered the Union, Sis’s informative picture book presents the United States’ fifty states, as well as Washington D.C., in a fun and creative way, by featuring each on an individual train car. In addition to the state capitol, tree, flower, bird, motto, date of statehood, and interesting fact that is included for each state, the train cars also include a visual array of other fun information. Pennsylvania, for example, features a miniature of Betsy Ross sewing the flag, Marian Anderson singing, busts of Ben Franklin and James Buchanan and giant Crayola crayons flanking the sides of the car.

Every train car contains so many tiny of Sis’s intricate illustrations that each page can be pored over at length. Also, a key to the symbols used in the book as well as a note on the book’s illustrations can be found at the end of the book to aid in identifying items contained in the pictures that could easily be missed. Packed with a glorious combination of lovely illustrations and factual tidbits, this book will serve a wide audience and be a useful addition to both nonfiction and picture book collections.

Let each child select a train car and investigate that state with more depth using additional nonfiction books. Also, invite children to look more closely at the illustrations to find interesting facts about the states that they might have missed. The crayons in the Pennsylvania car, for example, might lead someone to investigate why that picture was included.

Use the train car idea for another subject or theme such as history, nature, etc. Let each child choose a topic within the theme (e.g. Civil War in history) and draw a train car filled with details taken from the topic.

Other books about the United States:
Bockenhauer, Mark H. and Stephen F Cunha. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: OUR FIFTY STATES. ISBN 0792264029
Cleveland, Will, Mark Alvarez and Tate Nation. YO! SACRAMENTO. ISBN 0761302379
Shearer, Benjamin F. and Barbara Smith Shearer. STATE NAMES, SEALS, FLAGS AND SYMBOLS. ISBN 0313245592

By Erin Miklauz

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