Author: Gabriella Francine with Solara Vayanian
Illustrator: Phil Velikan
Publisher: BBM Books
ISBN: 978-1-938504-01-3

Are we really going to collect all of the symbols of the State of California?” Avery asks Olivia when they start out on a trip in Gabriella Francine’s book, We Love California!

This over-sized square, glossy hardcover book has thirty pages targeted toward preschool to early elementary school aged children who want to learn about the state symbols of California. With no profanity or scary scenes, some of the more complex words may be hard to read for beginner readers. Except for three photographs, illustrator Phil Velikan uses watercolors and pencils in a vibrant, expressive manner depicting the storyline.

Young girls Avery and Olivia are on an avid quest to find as many state symbols in California. Their first stop is the Sequoias where they look at the large, tall trees and sing the state song. After seeing fields of golden poppies, they meet Cuffy, a grizzly bear who accompanies them on their adventure.

The three visit a river and catch a Golden Trout, where Cuffy explains how the Golden State got its name in 1848 by panning gold. They see Purple Needlegrass, the Capitol building with its seal along with the state slogan and motto. They also learn about fossilized tiger bones, the blue diamond Benitoite gem, and the Dogface Butterfly, along with the state drink of wine, the rich soil of the San Joaquin Valley, California Valley Quail, the one hundred year old Desert Tortoise, the twenty to forty ton Gray Whales and tall schooners.

As they find each special item, there is a small white icon on the page matching the state’s symbol. There is also the entire words to the state song, “I Love You, California” by F.B. Silverwood.

When Cuffy has to leave, they realize how many state symbols they have learned during their adventure in California.

Besides learning some interesting facts about the history of this elongated West Coast state, the young reader is taught about the land and its roaming animals along with its nickname. This is a wonderful way to engage the reader and educate at the same time. One would hope there is a book like this for each of the fifty states of America. It is appreciative that a portion of sales of this book is donated to the California Association of Food Banks.

This book was furnished by BBM Books in lieu of an unbiased review.

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