Book Review: Alphabet Books by Sleeping Bear Press

Note: See the complete state list at the end of this review.

I love G is for Golden: A California Alphabet by Sleeping Bear Press.

The books in Sleeping Bear’s alphabet series – spanning each of the 50 U.S. states and a variety of other themes – try to cater to kids "from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade." I believe they have accomplished that feat.

Cover of the book G is for Golden, A California Alphabet. The artwork features California poppies, a gold and purple butterfly and golden grasses from California's foothillsTaking in each page is a three step process.

First, you gaze at the large, bright, colorful paintings which symbolize letters of the alphabet. For example, for the letter R we see a boy standing amid giant California redwood trees.

Second, there is a short rhyme for each letter: "R is for Redwood, the tallest tree we know. The oldest ones were born, thousands of years ago."

Third, there is a passage providing facts and background about the topic on that page.

Toddlers absorb the paintings and the rhymes. Older kids learn about different regions and people in their state.

What grabbed my attention (while thumbing the pages at Costco) was seeing familiar topics covered well, obscure subjects given prominence, and learning new things about my state.

I is for Ishi? As a kid I read a book about Ishi which my father owned. I’m sure there are lots of "I" topics pertaining to California, but Ishi was plucked for this book.

U is for United Nations… in California? Yep, the first gathering in 1945 occurred in San Francisco.

I have only two gripes.

First, the book title irks me. The cover art implies California is "golden" because of the California poppy, golden summer grasses growing in our foothills, or a golden butterfly. Inside the book G is actually attributed to the Golden Gate Bridge.

And on that point, it’s hard not to notice that 5 of the 26 letters (19 percent) pertain to the San Francisco bay area… Alcatraz, Chinatown, Forty-Niners (with artwork showing the Golden Gate Bridge despite gold’s discovery occurring in Sacramento), John Steinbeck (the Monterey area), and Philo T. Farnsworth (inventing television from his lab in San Francisco). Another 3 letters pertain to coastal communities… Explorers (sailing the seas), Kelp and the Ocean. Big surprise, the author hails from San Francisco.

That said, I don’t mind too much. I wish I could take a peek at the alphabet books for all of the other U.S. states. California is so geographically huge that it’s impossible to encapsulate its history and people with only 26 symbolic topics. I bet the book for Delaware really nails that state.

G is for Golden was written by David Domeniconi and illustrated by Pam Corroll, but the various state books have varying authors and illustrators. Below is a title list to help you locate your state.

U.S. States:

  1. Alabama: Y is for Yellowhammer
  2. Alaska: L is for Last Frontier (sample PDF page)
  3. Arizona: G is for Grand Canyon
  4. Arkansas: N is for Natural State
  5. California: G is for Golden (sample PDF page)
  6. Colorado: C is for Centennial
  7. Connecticut: N is for Nutmeg
  8. Delaware: F is for First State
  9. Florida: S is for Sunshine
  10. Georgia: P is for Peach
  11. Hawaii: A is for Aloha
  12. Idaho: P is for Potato
  13. Illinois: L is for Lincoln
  14. Indiana: H is for Hoosier
  15. Iowa: H is for Hawkeye
  16. Kansas: S is for Sunflower
  17. Kentucky: B is for Bluegrass
  18. Louisiana: P is for Pelican (sample PDF page)
  19. Maine: L is for Lobster
  20. Maryland: B is for Blue Crab
  21. Massachusetts: M is for Mayflower
  22. Michigan: M is for Mitten
  23. Minnesota: V is for Viking
  24. Mississippi: M is for Magnolia
  25. Missouri: S is for Show Me
  26. Montana: B is for Big Sky Country
  27. Nebraska: C is for Cornhusker (sample PDF page)
  28. Nevada: S is for Silver
  29. New Hampshire: G is for Granite
  30. New Jersey: G is for Garden State
  31. New Mexico: E is for Enchantment
  32. New York: E is for Empire
  33. North Carolina: T is for Tar Heel
  34. North Dakota: P is for Peace Garden
  35. Ohio: B is for Buckeye
  36. Oklahoma: S is for Sooner
  37. Oregon: B is for Beaver
  38. Pennsylvania: K is for Keystone
  39. Rhode Island: R is for Rhode Island Red
  40. South Carolina: P is for Palmetto (sample PDF page)
  41. South Dakota: M is for Mount Rushmore (sample PDF page)
  42. Tennessee: V is for Volunteer
  43. Texas: L is for Lone Star
  44. Utah: A is for Arches
  45. Vermont: M is for Maple Syrup
  46. Virginia: O is for Old Dominion
  47. Washington: W is for Evergreen
  48. West Virginia: M is for Mountain State
  49. Wisconsin: B is for Badger
  50. Wyoming: C is for Cowboy

Other Various Topics:

  1. A is for Algonquin: An Ontario Alphabet
  2. A is for America: An American Alphabet
  3. A is for Axel: An Ice Skating Alphabet
  4. B is for Bookworm: A Library Alphabet
  5. B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet
  6. C is for Chinook: An Alberta Alphabet
  7. D is for Democracy: A Citizen’s Alphabet (sample PDF page)
  8. D is for Drum: A Native American Alphabet
  9. G is for Galaxy: An Out of this World Alphabet
  10. H is for Homerun: A Baseball Alphabet (sample PDF page)
  11. H is for Horse: An Equestrian Alphabet
  12. I is for Idea: An Inventions Alphabet
  13. J is for Jump Shot: A Basketball Alphabet
  14. K is for Kick: A Soccer Alphabet
  15. M is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet (sample PDF page)
  16. M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet
  17. M is for Melody: A Music Alphabet (sample PDF page)
  18. N is for our Nation’s Capital: A Washington DC Alphabet (sample PDF page)
  19. P is for Passport: A World Alphabet
  20. P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet
  21. P is for Putt: A Golf Alphabet
  22. R is for Race: A Stock Car Alphabet
  23. R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet
  24. S is for Star: A Christmas Alphabet
  25. T is for Teachers: A School Alphabet
  26. T is for Touchdown: A Football Alphabet
  27. W is for Wind: A Weather Alphabet
  28. Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet
  29. Z is for Zookeeper: A Zoo alphabet

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