The author of Robots: Your High-Tech World and What Happened in Hamelin adds sparkle to her latest work--and humanizes a complex process--by framing her informative photo essay with an engaging narrative. When Stephanie in Santa Fe writes to her cousin Kathy in Salt Lake City, readers can witness the various stages in the letter's journey. In easy-to-understand language, Skurzynski moves from stage to stage--the letter is stamped and sealed, sorted at the post office, packed onto an airplane and at last delivered to its final destination. The backstage view of the U.S. Postal Service provides a host of intriguing tidbits: postage stamps, for instance, are printed with a special ink that can be identified by ultraviolet lights. Though the book abounds with engrossing details, some descriptions (``a big machine''; ``the city where Kathy lives'') seem overly spare and may leave readers wanting more information. The photographs, which capture such images as sorters keying the ZIP codes and handlers loading mailbags onto a plane, strike an appealing balance between the personal and the technological aspects of an everyday topic--a topic that kids who have read this book will no longer take for granted. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
K-Gr 3-- Through the example of a little girl mailing a letter to her cousin, this colorful book shows how a piece of mail makes its way from the post office, through the processing system, to its final destination. The text drags at first; readers have to wait and see if Stephanie can spell cousin Kathy's name and if Minnie the dog will lick the stamp. But once the letter is on its way, the writing picks up and delivers--as well as the service it describes. Bright, clear full-color photographs of multiethnic postal workers of both genders enhance the book. While the topic has been tackled before in Gail Gibbons's The Post Office Book (Crowell, 1982) and Sandra Ziegler's A Visit to the Post Office (Children's, 1989), Skurzynski's offering is as worthy as either. Included in her text (and not in the others) is a detailed diagram of the parts of an addressed envelope and abbreviations for states and other words commonly used (street, apartment, etc.) on letters. Teachers scrambling to find good nonfiction titles for whole language programs should consider this one. (Even though the CIP classifies it as fiction.)-- Dot Minzer, North Barrington School, Barrington, IL
While the framework story concerns young Santa Fe resident Stephanie's sending a photograph to her cousin, Kathy, in Salt Lake City, the "real" story here is how the mail gets from one place to another. Using full-color photographs, this picture book shows Stephanie addressing the envelope, her dog licking the stamp, and their trip to the post office mail slot. The letter travels through the postal system, which looks considerably more mechanized and computerized here than in most post office books on library shelves, and is finally delivered to Kathy's house. As a story, the book lacks punch, but as an illustrated explanation of postal service, it's among the best available and will be useful in primary grade classrooms.