The Great Connecticut Puzzle Book
The Great Massachusetts Puzzle Book
The Great State of Maine Activity Book
By Jane Petrlik Smolik
MidRun Press www.midrunpress.com
90 Larch Row
Wenham, MA 01984
If you live in Connecticut, Massachusetts, or Maine or will be vacationing there or simply want to expand your child's knowledge about the United States, these puzzle and activity books are a great place to start. While each book was designed by the same author, and each includes a myriad of puzzles, that is where the similarities end.
The Great State of Maine Activity Book and The Great Massachusetts Puzzle Book each retail for $9.95, and The Great Connecticut Puzzle Book retails for $11.95. Because shipping is included in all purchases from the company's website (www.midrunpress.com), this is a good value for a puzzle book of this size (each book is 96 pages, including the answer keys in the back).
The books are recommended for third- through seventh-grade reading levels, but each has puzzles that slightly younger children can do. Also included are many, many tidbits of useful information about each state that even adults would find interesting. For instance, did you know that Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world? If you read The Great State of Maine Activity Book, you would.
In addition to the puzzles, pages of state trivia and stories, and maps, each book also has a page of recipes featuring an item that the state is known for (maize from Connecticut, cranberries from Massachusetts, and wild blueberries from Maine). Preparing food using one of these recipes would be a great parent-child activity for a Saturday afternoon.
The books are printed in black and white, but given the target age level, this shouldn't be a distraction. In fact, this could provide the added bonus of illustrations for children to color.
The biggest drawback I can see to these interesting and thoughtfully designed books is that only three states are currently represented. Hopefully, the author will continue to expand her offerings until all 50 states are represented!
Product review by Melanie Bunnett, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, June 2006