Thursday, May 15, 2014

Book Review: Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country

Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country
By Dawn Menge
Outskirts Press, 2014
English, 33 pgs

Amazon Product Description:
The latest installment of Dawn Menge's award-winning Queen Vernita series finds Queen Vernita of Oceaneer on the road once again. Vernita has many friends, not only in her kingdom, but all over the world. In Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country, these friends invite her on a year-long journey through the American South. She spends a month with each friend who teaches her about the rich culture, music, food and history from this part of our country. Beginning on the first of January, Vernita arrives in Gator Country, where her friend Neomi introduces her to the world of Jazz. Vernita marvels at this vibrant blend of African and European music. On each day of the week, Vernita learns a new exciting fact about Jazz, including how it has evolved over the past century. At the end of January, she says a sad goodbye to Neomi, then she's off to sail down the Mississippi (and learns how to spell Mississippi!). She spends the month of February on a paddleboat with her dear friend Sidney, who tells her all about paddleboats: that they date back to the Roman Empire and were once powered by oxen, and even men! From Joachim, Vernita studies the many forms of life inhabiting the bayou; including the plants, crawfish, and catfish. When it's time to learn about the gators, Vernita travels with her friend Albert, and even holds a baby gator in her hands! In the course of her travels, Vernita also learns about the often forgotten history of the South: the period before the Civil War, when many people lived on plantations and owned slaves. Thankfully, the brave souls ran the Underground Railroad helped slaves escape via a secret pipeline to the North. Throughout the year, Queen Vernita and her readers learn something new and fascinating with every step of the way. It fosters a love of learning, and a curiosity about the people, animals, and natural wonders of our world. It's also a fun way for kids to learn the months and the days of the week.

About the Author:
Dawn Menge is the author of the Queen Vernita's educational series. Her series has won 19 literary awards. Queen Vernita's adventures include: Queen Vernita's Visitors, Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains, Queen Vernita Meets Sir HealthyBean,  and Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer's Coastline.
For more information visit
The book is available for purchase through the link above, as well as on Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

When the opportunity to review this book was presented, I jumped at the chance. We're not too far from Louisiana and have been toying with the idea of going there in the coming summer. I wanted to find a book to start teaching my boys about where we would be going.

The book is very educational. Queen Vernita learns seven things about whichever adventure she is having.

January = Jazz
February = paddleboats and the Mississippi River
March = Mardi Gras
April = alligators
May = French Quarter
June = Audubon Park, Zoo and Aquarium
July = plantation life
August = Oak Alley plantation
September = slavery
October = Underground Railroad
November = bayou life
December = African American tribes

The art work is colorful and appropriate for each month's "lessons".

My only issue with the book is that it reads a little difficult. The "days" that Vernita learns the facts feels more like a text book than a story book. I understand that the purpose of the book is to teach, but I think it could have been done in a more lyrical style and that would have been easier to read.

My youngest was interested in some of the pages, mainly the alligator and zoo, while my oldest got wrapped up in the slavery pages and we're starting to explain that period of time to him now.

It's useful for teaching about the state/region and I think that it would fit well into a lesson plan that was learning about the states.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review on my blog and a commercial book seller site. No additional compensation has been received and I was not required to write a positive review.

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