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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reading Road Trip: KANSAS!

Welcome to the great state of Kansas! I hope you've been following the Reading Road Trip blog hop, hosted by the lovely Hafsah of IceyBooks and Britta at I Like These Books. If so, you're stopping off today on our dusty plains, following in the wagon-wheel tracks of many a brave American settler. Sit back and learn a little about the place, and then enter the giveaway to win a copy of Moon Over Manifest, the Newbery Award winner written by Kansan Clare Vanderpool!

I first moved to the state of Kansas at the age of seven. For the next eleven years, I lived with my family in Overland Park (Johnson County), then moved to Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas. After a seven-year stay in New York City, I returned to Johnson County to be near my family and to raise my own daughter.

Today Overland Park is the second-largest city in the state and often appears on lists like The 10 Best Places to Live in America, The Best Places for Raising a Family, and the like. With its award-winning school districts, low living expenses, and proximity to Kansas City, Overland Park and the surrounding cities that make up Johnson County are often called the best-kept secret in the nation.

But all that is in the eastern half of Kansas, right next to the Missouri border. Travel west, and you’ll soon hit Wichita, the state’s largest city and home to great restaurants, a marvelous university, and a diverse population. Still further west, the beautiful Flint Hills give way to the flat plains, large farms, and sparse population that usually loom large in the national picture of the Kansas landscape.

Konza Prairie Preserve, Flint Hills, Kansas

We Kansans embrace our heritage as the homeland of Dorothy and Wild Bill Hickok. We’re tough folks who can weather tornadoes, blizzards, Dust Bowls, and even the occasional grasshopper plague. And you know that toast you had for breakfast? Like as not, we grew the wheat it was made from right here in American’s breadbasket.

Tornado near Hesston, KS, 1990



state population: 2,885,905
largest city: Wichita, pop 382,268
2d largest: Overland Park, pop 173,372
largest county: Johnson, pop 559,913
only 5 of Kansas's 105 counties have a population over 100,000

Kansas joined the Union on January 29, 1861, as a free state following years of struggle against anti-abolitionist forces. These conflicts earned it the title “Bleeding Kansas.”

Abolitionist John Brown as depicted in TRAGIC PRELUDE by John Steuart Curry

western meadowlark
state motto: Ad astra per aspera (To the stars through difficulties)
state flower: sunflower
tree: cottonwood
bird: western meadowlark
animal: buffalo (bison)
song: “Home on the Range”
nickname: the Sunflower State, the Jayhawk State
The name Kansas comes from a Sioux word meaning “people of the south wind”


1803 Thomas Jefferson acquires territory from the French in the Louisiana Purchase. The territory includes the future state of Kansas.

1821 The Santa Fe Trail opens in Kansas, helping European settlers heading west

1827 The U.S. Army opens Fort Leavenworth to protect the Western expansion from Native Americans

1854 The Kansas-Nebraska Act establishes Kansas and Nebraska Territories, despite previous agreements with various Native tribes to establish Kansas land as Indian reservations. Within a few years, Native Americans are driven out of the state into Oklahoma.

1855-58 The Kansas-Nebraska Act stipulates that citizens of Kansas Territory can vote on whether slavery would be allowed in their territory. Violence and battles erupt, earning the area the nickname “Bleeding Kansas.”

1861 On January 29, Kansas enters the Union as a free state.

1863 The Kansas Pacific Railway begins construction heading west from Kansas City. Major junctions included Lawrence, Salina, and Junction City.

1881 Kansas is the first state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages. Kansas did not repeal prohibition until 1948, and even then it continued to prohibit public bars, a restriction which was not lifted until 1987. Today, 29 of Kansas’s 105 counties remain dry.

1899 L. Frank Baum immortalizes the gray Kansas prairie in his book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 

1930 An intense drought over the Great Plains induces the Dust Bowl, devastating dust storms throughout the region. Crippled as well by the Great Depression, Kansas farmers wouldn’t see relief until 1941.

1959 The Clutters, a farm family, are murdered in their home in Holcomb, KS. Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood, published seven years later, told their story.

2005 Kansas allows some retail liquor sales on Sundays


Kirstie Alley, born in Wichita, actress
Amelia Earhart
Robert Dole, born in Russell, U.S. Senator & presidential candidate
Ann Dunham, born in Wichita, mother of Barack Obama
Amelia Earhart, born in Atchison, aviator
Dwight D. Eisenhower, raised in Abilene, 34th president
Buster Keaton, born in Piqua, actor/comedian
Jim Lehrer, born in Wichita, journalist & author
Hattie McDaniel, born in Wichita, first African American to win an Oscar (Gone With the Wind)
Clare Vanderpool, born in Wichita, Newbery Award-winning author
William Allen White, born in Emporia, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

Did You Know ...
James Naismith, who invented the game of basketball in 1891, was hired as a basketball coach and chaplain at the University of Kansas in Lawrence in 1898. He lived the rest of his life in Lawrence. Kansas University ranks second all-time (behind Kentucky) in NCAA Division I wins with 2,101 wins against 812 losses. The Kansas Jayhawks ranks first in NCAA history with 96 winning seasons.
     "No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home."
     The Scarecrow sighed.
    "Of course I cannot understand it," he said. "If your heads were stuffed with straw, like mine, you would probably all live in beautiful places, and then Kansas would have no people at all. It is fortunate for Kansas that you have brains.”

--from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 
And now for the giveaway! One week only, U.S. & Canada only, please. Enter to win a copy of Wichita native Clare Vanderpool's fantastic Newbery Award winner, Moon Over Manifest (yeah, it takes place in Kansas):

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
   Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone." ...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Reading Road Trip goes on all through the month of July! Here are the other stops--note that some of the giveaways go to the end of the month:

(Key: MG, YA, Adult, All Three)

Monday July 1:
Maine: Lisa Loves Literature {International}
Ends July 31st
New Hampshire: Book Cover Justice {International}
Ends July 31st

Tuesday July 2:
Vermont: Tales of a Word Weaver {US Only}
Ends July 31st
Massachusetts: World’s Oldest Fledgling {International}
Ends July 8th

Wednesday July 3:
Rhode Island
Connecticut: Read-A-holicZ {International}
Ends July 31st

Thursday July 4:
New Jersey: The Book Belles {International}
Ends July 31st

Friday July 5:
New York: My Life is a Notebook {US Only}
Ends August 1st

Saturday July 6:
Pennsylvania: NightlyReading {US Only}
Ends August 1st
Sunday July 7:
Maryland: The Eater of Books {International}
Ends July 31st
West Virginia: Reading Angels {International}
Ends July 14th

Monday July 8:
Washington D.C.: Verb Vixen {US/Canada}
Ends July 30th

Tuesday July 9:
Virginia: The Bookmark Blog {US Only}
Ends August 1st
North Carolina: Dizneeee’s World of Books {International}
Ends July 23rd

Wednesday July 10:
South Carolina: Let Me Tell You a Story {US Only}
Ends August 1st
Georgia: Panda Reads {US Only}
Ends July 24th

Thursday July 11:
Florida: Jenna Does Books {US/Canada}
Ends September 3rd
Alabama: Zach’s YA Reviews {US Only}
Ends August 1st

Friday July 12:
Tennessee: Bookish Things and More {International}
Ends August 1st

Saturday July 13:
Kentucky: Mommasez... {US Only}
Ends July 31st
Ohio: Book Jems {International}
Ends July 31st

Sunday July 14:
Michigan: Books, Books, the Magical Fruit {US Only}
Monday July 15:
Illinois: In Wonderland {US Only}
Missouri: Mommasez... {US Only}
Ends July 30

Tuesday July 16:
Arkansas: Rachel Reads {US Only}
Ends July 31
Louisiana: Verb Vixen {US/Canada}
Ends July 30

Wednesday July 17:
Texas: The Princess of Storyland {US Only}
Ends July 21
Thursday July 18:
Oklahoma: Bookish Things and More {International}
Ends July 31
Kansas: Claire M. Caterer {US/Canada}
Ends July 23

Friday July 19:
Wisconsin: YA Bibliophile {US Only}
Ends July 31

Saturday July 20:
Minnesota: Fiction Freak {US Only}
Ends August 16
North Dakota

Sunday July 21:
South Dakota
Nebraska: Dizneeee’s World of Books {International}
Ends July 31

Monday July 22:
Colorado: Hope, Faith & Books {US Only}
Ends August 13
New Mexico: IceyBooks {US Only}
Ends August 2

Tuesday July 23:

Wednesday July 24:
Arizona: Darci Cole {US Only}
Utah: Angela’s Anxious Life {US Only}

Thursday July 25:
Wyoming: Hope, Faith & Books {US Only}
Montana: YA Reads {International}

Friday July 26:
Indiana: I Like These Books {International}

Saturday July 27:
California: The White Unicorn {US/Canada}

Sunday July 28:
Oregon: Tabitha’s Book Blog {US Only}
Washington: Lisa Loves Literature {US Only}

Monday July 29:
Canada: Mark of the Stars {US/Canada}

Tuesday July 30:
Alaska: Little Lovely Books {International}

Wednesday July 31:

images provided by wikimedia commons; public domain.