From Pie Town to Yum Yum: Weird and Wacky Place Names Across the United States
written by Debbie Herman; illustrated by Linda Sarah Goldman
2011 (Kane Miller)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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From Pie Town to Yum Yum is a book that illustrates why I love nonfiction. It is indeed stranger than fiction. With this book, you have an entree of fascinating facts with two sides of weirdness and humor. Top it off with a dessert of comedic illustrations and this makes for a great read. Debbie Herman starts off with an explanation of toponymy, which is the study of place names. Knowing the history behind a town name can help you get a sense of the local culture. After the foreword, each of the fifty states (from Scratch Ankle, Alabama to Hole-In-The-Wall, Wyoming) is represented by a two page spread with a paragraph about the unique town featured on the left. The right side has a list of other intriguing town names in the featured state along with information about state geography, history, and destinations to visit on a road trip. My fair state is represented by the town of Bat Cave which is located in the mountains. The irony is that Bat Cave is not far from Transylvania County and when the fog gets thick, it can get quite spooky.
Students in your home state will enjoy finding out which towns they have visited and trying to decide which town name is their favorite. I would also ask them to create a name for a town and explain why they made this selection. Books like From Pie Town to Yum Yum can serve as a gateway to getting students interested in history. The sense of humor in the text and illustrations will keep them engaged and perhaps they will be prompted to do research on their own. If there is a volume two of this book, I'm nominating Lizard Lick for the North Carolina section.