Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata is my Young Readers choice for Georgia. It’s a Newberry Award winner, and very reminiscent of Bento Box in the Heartland, by Linda Furiya, which we read in Indiana. I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so books from each state, with an emphasis on books where the setting […]

While I was investigating young adult and young reader choices for California, I stumbled across Ana of California by Andi Teran (2015), which is meant to be a modern take on Anne of Green Gables, the much loved classic book by Lucy Maud Montgomery from 1908. While the original took place in Canada, Ana of […]

Wow! Haven’s Wake by Ladette Randolph (2013) was phenomenal for my reading challenge. I’m reading my way across the USA, focusing on books with a strong sense of place that help me “get to know” each state–the landscape, the people, the culture, the history. Haven’s Wake was a perfect choice for Nebraska. That year the […]

Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 13 May 2005.

Raintree County by Ross Lockridge, Jr. was an excellent book for my reading challenge. Take a look at some of the passages below, and you’ll see a small portion of how Lockridge describes Raintree County in west central Indiana. This first one is a description of a book within a book–an illustrated atlas of Raintree […]

As I worked my way through my picks for Kansas, I began to wonder about the differences between Kansas and its neighboring states, and I decided to stay in the area for a while longer. So I’m going to be reading Nebraska next. I was also interested in the “bleakness” and “mean spirit” I saw […]

When most people think of Kansas, we tend to think, “flat.” And, after all, in Dorothy Must Die, author Danielle Paige called the Kansas town Flat Hill. I’ve already talked a bit about the Wizard of Oz movie and book (mis)perceptions of Kansas (including that Baum’s original descriptions were based on his unhappy experiences of […]

First Dawn by Judith Miller is about the post-Civil War all-black pioneer settlement of Nicodemus, Kansas. It tells the story of a group of ill-prepared settlers who travel across the prairie from Topeka to Nicodemus, expecting to find a small, but somewhat established town, with at least a few amenities, only to arrive at a […]

Letters Never Sent by Sandra Moran (2013) was a really good book; it was well-written and an engaging story. I very much enjoyed it, and I’m glad I read it. However, the setting wasn’t really that important to the story. I’m reading my way across the USA, with a focus on books that really help […]

The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard (2006) was a definite winner, at least in terms of learning about Kansas. While Becky Mandelbaum’s Bad Kansas left me full of bleakness, Nancy Pickard’s Kansas gave me some hope. Not that she was all rosy about the state–there were plenty of descriptions of that bleakness. He […]

“It’s either school, a job, or a girl,” she said. “Or death. Those are the only reasons for coming to Kansas. Unless you’re born here, of course. Then it’s a matter of escaping.” This seems to be the consensus among many of the characters in Becky Mandelbaum’s Bad Kansas: Stories (2017), which won the Flannery […]