Children’s Book of the Week: The Scrambled States of America

The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller

Sometimes a children’s book comes along that makes me just want to call up the author and invite him or her to coffee, and this is one of them. It’s hilarious, adorable, and even educational! And completely along the lines of my sense of humor.

Poor Kansas, stuck in the middle of the country, with big dreams and a sense of adventure. Kansas and Nebraska decide to have a big potluck party for all the states (already this book is right up my alley, see?), and it’s there that the states decide to mix it up a bit, so they can see other parts of the country. The results are fairly disastrous (several states shoved in where California was are constantly jostled by earthquakes, Arizona’s hairdo is limp and unmanageable when she’s transferred to the humid East Coast), and the states decide to switch back. Along the way, you get a sense of each state, what makes it special, and where it actually lives, geographically. The pages are dense with little cartoony asides (California is, predictably, lactose intolerant) and side stories (even love!), and everything is very funny and clever and just basically wonderful. We’ve gotten out other Laurie Keller books and we love them all, but this is our favorite. A perfect book for President’s Day (or Independence Day, or any day).

Comments (6)

  1. sarah February 17, 2009 at 10:56 am

    This is definately a Syah book. Will go check out it out! Last night a friend of mine recommended “Willow” by Denise Brennan-Nelson and the “Toot & Puddle” series by Holly Hobbie (really). Have you read either?

  2. sarah February 17, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Got “Mr Lincolns Boys” for yesterday, which was on display at the libary, had beautiful illustrations, and thought we be fun as it’s about 2 mischievous little boys in the White House. But their mischievous-ness all revolves around pretending to kill toy confederate soldiers, then you find out at the end they both die of typhus. Talk about a downer.

  3. Emily February 17, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I can vouch for toot and puddle – there’s an odious tv show with annoyingly teenagery voices for the 2 pigs (wylie saw at cousins now loves) BUT the books ARE good, a huge hit with Wylie before the tv show. We got one at library, and one from gran for christmas independantly, and she’s always a good chooser. They’re quite pretty, and humane. A sample — puddle, wanting to get toot the perfect birthday present, goes into town. PUddle is a homebody – that’s kind of what it’s about–toot loves to travel to many places, puddle likes to garden and bake (the joke in my house is that they are a gay couple, how else could toot fund all of toot’s trips to fiji and paris unless they had two healthy incomes and no kids?) anyway, there’s a great illustration of “shopping in town always made puddle nervous”, which just cracks me open with sympathy for him; I totally get it.

    no one dies of typhus, and they live in a place called woodcock pocket, which is funny to say.

  4. Julie February 17, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    I agree on Toot and Puddle. It’s funny — the Toot and Puddle books are ones I would never think to recommend because I assumed we all had them. Yes, they’re great. Wonderful illustrations, and fun little stories. Eli loves “You Are My Sunshine” (I think that’s what it’s called) where one of them (Puddle?) gets depressed and is moping and the other one does his best to cheer him up, and in the end standing in a good rainstorm is what snaps him out of it. Again, you totally get both sides. Sometimes you just feel mopey, and sometimes your friends are mopey and even making them their favorite dessert won’t make them feel much better.

  5. Julie February 17, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    We got a great Lincoln book out of the library which I didn’t write up because I think I actually liked it more than the boys did, though they did like (I generally don’t recommend a book unless they clamor for it). But maybe I’ll write it up for next Monday. It was a good one, and funny, but also sort of bittersweet, and without typhus deaths (ick!).

  6. sarah February 23, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Love Toot & Puddle – what great illustrations! And Jaya actually wanted to read them over (gasp) a dino book. Had playdate with a horrid little boy yesterday who said “Toot & Puddle are stupid”. Jaya said ” I LOVE Toot & Puddle”. You go Jaya!
    Also loving Scrambled States although it’s taking some time for Jaya to “get” it. Why is Kansas sad? Why are the states mixed up? Where is California now? Where was it before? Where is Massachusets? Not really getting to the story for the questions, but he’s certainly learning something about the country!

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