Nonfiction Monday – Go, Go America


Alright readers, time for a quiz. Read each of the following statements and name the STATE that correctly completes the sentence.

It illegal for boys to hurl snowballs at trees in the state of __.

The annual Bald is Beautiful Convention held is held in the state of __.

The highest literacy rate in the nation can be found in the state of __.

The lowest and highest points in the continental U.S. (lower 48) are in the state of __.

It is illegal to wear your boots to bed in the state of __.

Stumped? You won’t be after reading Dan Yaccarino’s book, Go, Go America. This fun-filled tour through the 50 states and District of Columbia is filled with all sorts of strange and wacky facts.

The book begins with an introduction to the Farley family, your guides on this oddball tour. There is (1) Mom, “all ready to read maps, ask directions, and settle any backseat arguments;” (2) Dad, who “can’t wait to hit the road! Unfortunately, he’s not the greatest driver in the world and has a lousy sense of direction;” (3) Freddie, who “knows lots of interesting facts about the United States and is eager to share his knowledge, even if no one wants to hear it;” (4) his sister, Fran, who “would prefer to be biking, hiking, or skiing cross-country rather than riding in a car. And she’s still mad at Mom for telling her she can’t ride on the roof;” and finally (5) Fido, the family pooch who “thinks they are going to the park.”

After the introductions, the “table of contents” introduces readers to the map of the states, covered with a dotted line that highlights the Farley’s journey from Maine to Hawaii. What follows is a page (or two) devoted to each state. Each state page identifies the state, along with its nickname. An outline map of the state with the capital placed and identified is also included. The rest of the page is a visual delight, with each family member engaged in an activity that depicts the state in some way. For example, on the state of Maine page, Father is fishing, Mom and the kids are eating blueberry pie, and Fido is sitting quietly wearing a pair of ear muffs. The text on the page describes these images and presents other interesting and sometimes outrageous facts. The states are presented in the order that the faimly visits them on their trip. The states of Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Texas, California, Alaska, and Hawaii all get a two page treatment.

There is quite a bit of witty repartee in these pages and much to enjoy both visually and textually. The family and the graphics have a very retro 1950’s feel about them. Dad wears a plaid suit that makes me laugh every time I look at it. Mom wears cat-shaped glasses and cropped pants. Dad seems to be the butt of a good many jokes, as he seems to mishear or misinterpret information. For example, on the Vermont page he is trying to scoop a glass of bubbly out of the water, while Mom says, “Lake Champlain, not Champagne, dear.” On the New York page Dad is wearing an umpire’s vest as Mom says, “The Empire State, dear. Not umpire.”

The family’s journey ends in Hawaii with the Freddie asking “So, Dad, how are we going to get home?” The last nine pages of the book presents the states in alphabetical order. Each state is presented as a column of information, beginning with its abbreviation, name, capital, date of statehood, order of statehood, square miles, bird, flower, tree, motto, and nickname. The page where the state is highlighted in the book is also listed. The final page lists a number of books where readers can find more information, as well as web sites of interest.

Overall, I found this is a thoroughly humorous and enjoyable read. You can bet I’ll be adding this title to my 50 states thematic book list. I highly recommend this one for a fun-filled romp through the states.

Book: Go, Go America
Author/Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date:
Pages: 80 pages
Grades: 2-6
Source of Book: Personal copy purchased at local independent bookstore.

Scholastic has a lesson plan for use with this book. It’s listed for grades K-2, but I can’t see using this book much before second grade (and that might be a stretch). I think this book will largely appeal to upper elementary students.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. Head on over to Anastasia Suen's blog and check out all the great posts highlighting nonfiction this week.

P.S. – Are you looking for answers to the quiz? Here they are! – Illinois, North Carolina, Utah, California and Oklahoma.

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