Today we're excited to be sharing in the fun of Booking Across the USA! This project, dreamed up by the fantastic Jodie of Growing Book by Book, brings together bloggers from across the United States. Each of us is sharing our review of a book in the same series, plus an activity or craft inspired by our home state. It's a cool opportunity to hear from bloggers from every corner of our country. Visit the main page of Booking Across the USA on Wednesday, May 14, to enter a fun giveaway and see the links to all the participating bloggers.
The book we're sharing is Way Out West in the Travels with Charlie series by Miles Backer. There are four books in this series: Down South, Travelin' the Northeast, and Across the Midwest. Each title focuses on a specific region of the US -- our home state just happens to be Washington, so we were squarely in the Western Region, which includes the Southwest, Alaska and Hawaii.
We received a copy of the book from Blue Apple Books in order to review it, and wow, was Sprout ever excited when we opened up the package and saw this colorful title. For starters, Charlie the dog is just about as cute as can be, with his flappy ears and bright red bandanna. Then, as soon as you open the book you discover the endpapers -- an outline map of the USA with the states featured in this book highlighted in different colors. Sprout's really into maps lately, so he was hooked as soon as we saw this.
Each state has a featured spread with the illustrations opposite a page with a bit of rhyming text that hits on the highlights of the state, plus the state flag and some facts. We learned a few new things about Washington that we didn't know, such as the origin of Mt Rainier's name (Peter Rainier, a British soldier in the Revolutionary War) and that the oldest gas station in the US is in Zillah, WA. Now where else would you find such terrific gems?!
Chuck Nitzberg did the illustrations for this book and they are a key component of the whole piece. The slightly cartoony feel he gives to the pictures adds to the sense of fun, and he definitely hits the highlights of each state in terms of fun stuff going on. (Although, seriously, does everyone have to be white? With the exception of the Native Americans in traditional garb, it's a white-wash -- a little disappointing, folks.) The real fun of this one comes into play when you start searching for Charlie. Yes, he's pictured in every state feature spread, and no, he's not easy to find! Little ones will love hunting for this rakish pup, who shows up, where else but in the most unexpected places.
One thing I really appreciated about the Washington spread of Way Out West was how it emphasized our proximity to the water and the many water-related activities we take advantage of here in the Evergreen State. Sprout in particular thought it was cool that the book shows the state ferries. We had a great time on the ferry last year when we vacationed in the San Juan Islands. In case you can't tell by the *huge* grin in the picture below, Sprout's a big fan of the ferry - the whole thing, from the excitement of driving on to the wind whipping around on the deck to cozying up and watching the world sail by.
Our favorite pastime during that trip was beachcombing, which meant that we brought home some really fantastic rocks, shells and seaglass. If you've been reading this blog long, you know that I'm not exactly crafty, but I do make an effort from time to time. And since we really want to preserve our memories from the San Juans, we'll be making a stepping stone using some of the treasures we found on the beach! It's actually pretty easy to do this kind of thing - we've got a basic stepping stone kit, much like this one pictured below, and will stir up the mix as directed, then imbed our stones and shells in a fun design.
(Though the reviews I've read indicate that this isn't super messy and can be done in the house, we're taking Sprout's propensity for "oops" to heart, and we'll be doing this project outside, just as soon as the sun sticks around for us a little bit.)
Whether you're traveling this summer, or sticking around home, I bet you'll find some great info about our country when you go Booking Across the USA!
Bonus: check out some fun coloring pages at this link to the Washington State Junior Grange!