Monday, April 14, 2008

Nonfiction Monday: Postcards from Washington D.C.

Postcards from Washington D.C./Postales desde Washington D.C. written and illustrated by Laura Crawford. Raven Tree Press, 2008 (0-9795477-0-9) $16.95

Part of the series, "Traveling With Anna," this is a partially bilingual book (English/Spanish) that uses a postcard-to-friends format to describe places of interest in Washington D.C. An eye-catching design mixes formal photos of the sites with casual pen & ink and watercolor pictures of the friendly Anna, who smiles with bookworm glee at the Library of Congress (even though nothing can be checked out,) and gazes soberly at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, putting some flowers under her uncle's name. Each section includes a "postcard" from Anna, enthusiastically describing her trip, plus a few additional facts as text.

Anna's postcards are engaging, giving interesting information that will appeal to kids, such as a description of a ritual in Arlington National Cemetery: "A guard marched 21 steps, clicked his heels, faced the tomb, waited 21 seconds, and marched back." After visiting the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, she writes: "Money isn't made of paper. It is really linen and cotton. That's why it doesn't get ruined in the washing machine!"

Postcards from Washington D.C. isn't completely successful as a bilingual book, because only the additional text is offered in Spanish; the postcards themselves, the best part, are only given in English. It's still an excellent resource for English speakers planning a family trip to D.C., for kids interested in other places, or for classroom reading. (6-10)

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