Review of the Week

Duffield, Kay S. California History for Kids: Missions, Miners, and Moviemakers in the

Golden State   Non-fic.    Chicago Review, 2012. 144p. PB $16.95    978-1-56976-532-6                       LOW ADDITIONAL                        GRADES 4-6

The task of covering the history of California from prehistoric times up to the governorship of Schwartzenegger is rather daunt­ing. The writing here is jaunty and interesting for the most part but what is included or not included in the text can be troubling. It improves somewhat when it reaches the agricultural era in the late 1890s. The first sections from earliest times to the gold rush have big holes and sometimes conflicting statements. In the list of fast facts it omits the state tree and bird but includes the number of dentists and fast food restaurants. When Drake’s visit to Drake’s Bay is discussed, it talks about the brass plate that no longer exists, with no mention that it was a hoax. The photos in this ARC are very hard to see and one picture—which is repeated in another section where it truly belongs—is labeled “Hydraulic Mining,” but it isn’t. Some significant people have been omitted from the Mexican California through Statehood sections, notably Vallejo and the earliest “Californios.” While many entries are brief, some cover the topics more clearly than others. The 21 activities are another matter. Some directions are really incomplete; some are not that interesting in the first place; some might pique some children’s interest, e.g., the railroad cipher, which comes out very much like the texting shorthand children use today; few really further the history of California. There is no index. Review based on an ARC.

Martha Shogren, Independent

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One Response to Review of the Week

  1. pennypeck says:

    I quite agree with Martha Shogren on this review. She is probably (certainly) more generous than I.

    The book also lacks maps–MAPS, map. ’nuff said–Big Grandma

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