50 Cities of the USA @QuartoKids #Kidlit: Exploring Tucson and A Giveaway

 50 Cities of the U.S.A.: Explore America’s Cities with 50 Fact-Filled Maps (The 50 States) by Gabrielle Balkan and illustrated by Sol Linero is a fun children’s book coming out in a few weeks. Let’s celebrate by exploring one of the featured cities, Tucson, and having a chance to win a copy of the book in a giveaway (see details at bottom of post).

This book gives information-packed tours of fifty prominent cities throughout the United States, including Anchorage, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boise, Boston, Burlington, Charleston, Charlotte, Cheyenne, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Little Rock, Los Angeles, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Newark, Newport, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland MA, Portland OR, Rapid City, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Seattle, St. Louis, Tucson, Virginia Beach, and Washington, D.C.

Each city is presented in huge two-page spread (the book is an extra-large 11 inch x 13.4 inch format). Let’s take a look at Tucson as an example of how it works.

For each spread, the location of the city is given on a map in the upper right hand corner. Interesting historical information, places to see, and famous citizens of that city are scattered over the pages. If that wasn’t enough, the illustrator has included fun visual searches to some spreads, plus the author gives recommendations for children’s books set in each city.

Selected Fun Facts from 50 Cities about Tucson:

There’s a lot to see and do in Tucson. (Note:  The photographs are from my personal collection. The book does not contain photographs.)

• AGUA CALIENTE PARK Here, the cactus wren rests in the hole of a cactus, its nest protected by the prickly spines of a cholla or leaves of a yucca.

• DAVIS MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE  More than 5,000 B-52s, helicopters, and other aircraft are stored at The World’s Largest Boneyard (aka airport graveyard). (Our family also likes to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum, shown in the photograph above.)

• THE DESERT MUSEUM  cares for 230 native species, like the venomous gila monster, whose skull is covered in tiny smooth bumps. (These javelinas are some of the featured native animals found there.)

• THE EL CHARRO CAFE The chimichanga was invented here—by accident! Ingredients include rice, cheese, and machaca (dried meat), and avocado.

• THE SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK  This tree-like cactus grows additional arms as they age, sometime growing more than 25.

• THE TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART Make your own Day of the Dead-inspired art pieces at the annual Día de los Muertos celebration, which remembers relatives who have passed away.

• THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA  A collection of elegant mathematical models once used to teach concepts now live on as art. (The University of Arizona also hosts the Tucson Book Festival in March. It a fabulous place to introduce children to books.)

• TUCSON INTERNATIONAL MARIACHIS CONFERENCE In 2010, 555 mariachis broke a guinness world record when they played in honor of mariachi legend Nati Cano.

• VALLEY OF THE MOON  A former postal clerk created this landscape of winding paths, stone towers, and hidden grottoes to spark the imagination.

We also enjoy the Tucson Botanical Gardens and Tohono Chul Park, especially in early spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom.

As you can see from the examples, 50 Cities is a great book to have on hand if you’re planning a trip, moving to a new place, or studying the geography and history of the United States. It’s the kind of reference book kids will return to again and again.

Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions (September 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1847808700
ISBN-13: 978-1847808707


The giveaway is now closed.

Would you like a chance to receive a copy of 50 Cities? Simply login the Rafflecopter below — making sure you leave a valid e-mail address — by 12:00 a.m. EST August 24, 2017. Rafflecopter will randomly pick the winner and I will notify @QuartoKids (they have kindly agreed to ship the prize.) Their only request is that the giveaway is open only to US residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any difficulty with the Rafflecopter form, please let me know in the comments

Want to find more children’s books with strong settings? Try our Reading Through The States website.

Disclosure: This book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Christmas Spirit Giveaway

With Thanksgiving so late this year, it might be difficult to get into the Christmas spirit. To help you get started, let’s have what I believe is our first ever Wrapped In Foil giveaway contest (see Rafflecopter form below). Today we’re featuring the middle grade romp Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit (A Kat McGee Adventure) (Volume 1) by Rebecca Munsterer and illustrated by Nick Guarracino.

christmas-spiritThis is an incredibly sweet book. Kat McGee is an average girl stuck in the middle of what seems to be a family of super achievers. No one thinks she’s remarkable. That is, no one except her grandmother, who has her own unusual connection to none other than Mrs. Claus (as in, wife of Santa Claus). Where will that connection lead? The cover of the book might give you a few clues.

With a bit of foreshadowing, Kat suspects some shady dealings were involved when she is not chosen for the role of Mary in the Christmas pageant. That is all forgotten, however, when she goes on the adventure of the lifetime to the North Pole.


The book is filled with other “gifts.”

1. Candyfruit

What child doesn’t dream of waking up to elves delivering a sugary mixture of oranges and chocolate called “candyfruit” for breakfast? In just one of the many sweet aspects of the book, the yummy CandyFruit Recipe is given in the back matter (It was specially created by celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio and Umber Ahmad of Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery).


2. Snow Globe
Also in the back matter are the instructions to make a simple snow globe using a small jar. My son made one of these in first grade and he still enjoys it.

3. Character-building activities

These activities revolve around the four character-building tenets Kat learns at the North Pole:  self-worth, wisdom, wonder and whimsy.

4. Reading Guide
Wrapping things up in the back matter is an extensive chapter-by-chapter reading guide with blanks for filling in answers.

5. More fun holiday-related crafts
See In This Together Media for even more holiday craft ideas, such as stained glass cards and “Festive HolidayLights” gift paper.

6. The Kat McGee Christmas Pinterest Board

Everything from Christmas cookies to a paper-chain Christmas tree. You have to see this one!

Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit is a treat that is best shared during the holidays. To possibly win a copy, enter by using the Rafflecopter form by December 10, 2013. (Please leave a comment if the form gives you any problems.)


Series: A Kat McGee Adventure
Paperback: 142 pages
Publisher: In This Together Media; 2 edition (November 5, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0989816648
ISBN-13: 978-0989816649

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosures: The book was provided for review purposes. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.