Book Review: 50 Cities of the USA

I am a big fan of what I call “Busy Books.” This name should not be confused with “busy work,” which is generally considered a waste of time. Busy Books are good things. Excellent things!

Busy Books are meaty books with lots of different (related) nuggets of information or pictures or ideas, like Richard Scarry books and Where’s Waldo? Kids who may not love reading are often captivated by the busy-ness of such books, and text nuggets are easier to consume than the walls of text in other books.

Well, there’s a new Busy Book on the block, and I love it: 50 Cities of the U.S.A., written by Gabrielle Balkan and illustrated by Sol Linero.

50 Cities of the U.S.A, by Gabrielle Balkan and Sol Linero

50 Cities of the U.S.A, by Gabrielle Balkan and Sol Linero

The title says it all: 50 cities are examined in detail, giving us a wide variety of fun facts and illustrations, including famous people, events, places, and so much more.

This is the Anchorage spread:

50 Cities of the U.S.A., Anchorage, AK

50 Cities of the U.S.A., Anchorage, AK

Busy, no?

Let’s zoom in:

50 Cities of the U.S.A., Anchorage spread

50 Cities of the U.S.A., Anchorage detail

These are some of the fun facts included:

  • ALASKA WILD BERRY PRODUCTS 3,000 pounds of chocolate (from the seeds of the cacao fruit) go into the world’s largest chocolate waterfall here.
  • EARTHQUAKE PARK commemorates the tragic 1964 4-minute quake where an entire neighborhood slid into the ocean.
  • MANY MOOSE As many as 1,000 roam Anchorage in the winter. Their antlers grow about an inch a week.
  • NO SALES TAX Anchorage is in one of the only five U.S. cities that does not have a sales tax.
  • OSCAR ANDERSON HOUSE MUSEUM Oscar is said to be the 18th non-native person to arrive in town, and build this, the first wood home, in 1915.
  • RED KING CRABS These shellfish are “king” of the local fishing industry, can live up to 30 years…and taste great with lemon and butter!
  • THE 20 STATE LANGUAGES include Inupiaq, Siberian Yupik, Alutiiq, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian…and English.
  • THE ANCHORAGE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT is one of the world’s busiest airport for cargo traffic.
  • TURNAGAIN ARM This narrow inlet sees bore tides that can climb 10 feet tall and read speeds of 15 mph—some of the highest in the world.
  • THE FUR RENDEZVOUS FESTIVAL includes an ice carving competition and a Mr. Fur Face Contest, which gives awards for impressive and unusual beards.

This book can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere, but it strikes me as the ultimate Road Trip book. I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for a review. While I often give away the books I receive for review after I’ve read them, I won’t be giving this one away. I will save it to share with young visitors who come to Alaska. It’s just the thing for the long drives in this largest of states.

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2 replies »

  1. Looks like a fun book! But I wish they’d chosen San Francisco instead of Los Angeles for CA. 🙂 I’m sure the author and publisher will get similar responses–waaaa whine, why wasn’t such and such city chosen? 😀

  2. And don’t miss this author/illustrator duo’s first “busy book” outing, 50 States, for a wider close-up view of the U.S.A. I’m a big fan of the busy book, or, as I like to call them, books to pore over. Highly engaging, entertaining, informative, and, as Jen says, great for visual learners and reluctant readers.