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Golden Numbers - A California Number Book Review by Dawn Peterson

David Domeniconi
Sleeping Bear Press
(800) 487-2323
310 N. Main Street Suite 300
Chelsea, MI 48118

Golden Numbers is a colorfully illustrated, lively book that celebrates California's intriguing history and rich diversity. What makes this book unique is its focus on little known facts and tidbits most of us have never heard before - even those of us who have grown up and lived here our whole lives!

For instance, did you know that the world's very first motel opened in San Luis Obispo in 1925? That the world's first electric guitar was built in California? That the fortune cookie was invented, not in Asia, but in the Golden State? Or that some native Californians made baskets so small that they could fit on the head of a pin? I didn't! Those are just a few of the interesting facts you'll discover in this book.

Golden Numbers is written with short, simple rhyme:

1 Garibaldi,
a California fish who's known
to tell folks who drop by,
"I'd rather be alone."

2 cable cars
climb up hills and never slip.
What can their secret be?
Don't panic; get a grip.

3 Pomo baskets,
always made by hand,
and each one guaranteed
to be a real Californian.

There are sidebars on each page which tell more about each subject, making the book appeal to a wider age range (the authors suggest children ages 6-12). The illustrations are beautifully painted and bring an added delight to this enjoyable book.

There are a few notes of caution about Golden Numbers that would be of interest to Christian homeschoolers. Because it is not written with a Christian viewpoint, it should not be surprising that evolution is worked into the book. For our family, that isn't a deterrent, but an opportunity to discuss what the scriptures teach about creation and why some believe differently. The second point of note is the author's liberal use of slang (which is fitting considering that California seems to be well known for its colorful jargon) and exaggeration. Coinages such as "hanging out", "we know how to rock", "cool as a cucumber" and "get a grip" are peppered throughout the book. For some, this isn't an issue. For people like me who prefer books without a lot of modern phraseology, it may be helpful to note. Some of the examples of overstatements are, "No wonder everyone loves California", "With so many colleges and universities, Californian's can't help but to be smart", "Everyone likes hanging out in California..." etc. Again, this isn't particularly negative, but worth noting if you desire a more balanced, less embellished portrayal of our state.

However, if you're looking for a light-hearted, fun and casual book about some unique California facts, this book fits the bill!

Product Review by Dawn Peterson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2009