By Todd Fuller
As a kid, visiting our local bookstores was an exciting opportunity especially around the holidays. Colorful, coffee table books were always displayed prominently and my mom would allow me to pick a new one every year as a Christmas present to the family. Large, heavy books filled with distant islands, exotic birds and animals of the jungle all spent a year holding our interest and sparking conversations in the family living room.
Today, finding colorful coffee table-like books is more a challenge and the notion that such a book with its sole focus on Missouri seems hard to even conceive. Consequently, I was very surprised to come across “The Missouri Almanac 2018-19.” “Missouri Almanac,” published by St. Louis publisher Reedy Press, is filled with all things Missouri.
Chapters are broken up into topics such as animals, history and mystery as well as the outdoors and famous Missourians, just to name a few. With Fun & Games sections interspersed throughout the almanac, one could argue that the book is exclusively for children. However, I believe that I enjoyed the images and the facts I discovered as much as any student. For instance, I know that Harry Truman had “S” as his middle initial. I didn’t know what it stood for or the story behind the initial. I know that armadillos can be found in Missouri. I was surprised to discover the year they were first observed living in our state. No spoilers are coming from me. You will need to read “Missouri Almanac” to discover the answers.
Of course you could look up answers to both of the anecdotes I posed above on the Internet. Our instant gratification culture almost demands that you find the answers quickly to be included in the zeitgeist of our culture and time. I believe there is still value in discovery. Turning the pages of a book and stumbling across the photo of an animal you didn’t know existed in Missouri or realizing that your favorite food was created for the first time only two hours from where you live is exciting and rewarding.
“Missouri Almanac 2018-19” would be a great addition to any Missouri classroom. All five authors are Missourians and a few are Missouri educators still working with children in the classroom. This work wasn’t cobbled together quickly to make money. There is a definite sense of respect and appreciation for the state we all call home. We give away every book reviewed for School & Community. “Missouri Almanac 2018-19” will be a difficult book to let go. I know what I plan on putting at the top of my wish list.
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