• Happy birthday Daniel Pinkwater (Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl, The Big Orange Splot) and Maira Kalman (Fireboat, Smartypants).
  • Chickens, chickens and more chickens! The first U.S. poultry show opens in Boston, in 1849. Read Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman and Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo & Harry Bliss.
  • It’s Clean Your Refrigerator Day, perhaps in preparation for Thanksgiving when it will be filled up with leftovers. Read The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan.
  • It’s America Recycles Day. Read 50 Ways to Get Your CartOn by Ellen Warwick.

This month schools began participating in the National Geographic Bee, an annual contest sponsored by the National Geographic Society. The third week of November the Society marks Geography Awareness Week, providing a multitude of project materials at their website. Since 1989, participants from fourth through eighth grades have competed in this annual event for scholarships, based on their knowledge of world geography.

During my own elementary school years I was fascinated with geography. Sensing a convert to reference books, my school librarian allowed me to lug home the huge school atlas every night, so that I could meticulously copy maps of Portugal or China or whatever captured my fancy. Possibly because I have always needed a GPS chip implanted in my brain, I worked to figure out how all the countries and states fit together.

Children like me—and even some who have no interest in geography—will love Laurie Keller’s The Scrambled States of America. First published in 1998, perfect for the three- to eight-year-old crowd, the story opens with a terrible dilemma—Kansas is “not feeling happy at all.” Sitting in the middle of the country, Kansas never gets to go anywhere, do anything, or meet any new states. And so Kansas and BFF Nebraska plan a party and invite the other states so they can make friends, laugh, dance, and sing. When it’s time to go home, all the states swap spots on the map to be closer to their new friends—and create mass chaos. In the end they decide that there is no place like home. With lots of humor, not to mention information about each state worked into the text and art, The Scrambled States of America will help any child—including those who need a GPS chip—remember where each state sits on the map.

The winning question in the 2009 National Geographic Bee focused on a country of Europe. What country contains a TimiĹź County? The winner, Eric Yang, Seventh grader from Texas, correctly identified Romania. I would have missed it. But now thanks to the best book about geography for children, The Scrambled States of America, I will always remember than Nebraska sits on top of Kansas!

Here’s a page from The Scrambled States of America:


Originally posted November 15, 2010. Updated for .

Tags: Geography, Humor
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The Scrambled States of America


  1. My three kids loved this book. I used to read it to them a lot. I haven’t read it in awhile. Now that they are 7, 7, and 9 they will all be able to read it themselves. I think I know right where it is. Maybe one of my kids will choose to read it today. Thanks for the reminder about a great book!
    Your site is so much fun. I like how you have options to search for books you’ve posted about.

  2. CLM says:

    I found this one after reading Arne the Donut, which my oldest nephew loved.

  3. This sounds like so much fun! I will have to look for this book in the library!

Leave a Comment

Daily children’s book recommendations and events from Anita Silvey.

Discover the stories behind the children’s book classics . . .

The new books on their way to becoming classics . . .

And events from the world of children’s books—and the world at large.