One of my favorite things about storytelling is establishing a sense of cause and effect. This happened because this happened. Not just this happened, this happened, and this happened….

As storytellers, we get to use our creativity to make decisions about how we organize the events in our story, including how and when we reveal the reactions to various events.

THE SCRAMBLED STATES OF AMERICA is an example of superb cause and effect – with one event leading to the next for a smooth, natural flow. Written and illustrated by Laurie Keller, this book tells a well-crafted story and makes me love geography. I admire how Laurie ties the various plot points together; there is a sense of logic to the pattern of events even in an imaginative story.   


We first start out with all the countries waking up, enjoying coffee, reading the paper. All is well.

But the trouble is that Kansas is not happy at all, setting this playful story into motion.   

While other states are enjoying the sunrise, Kansas is giving his neighbor Nebraska an earful.  

Kansas tells Nebraska that it’s way too boring in the middle of the country. Kansas says, “We never Go anywhere. We never DO anything, and we NEVER meet any new states!”

Kansas comes up with a brilliant idea to throw a party. Missouri and Iowa pitch in to help Kansas and Nebraska so the midwestern states are the party planners. And once you get all the states together for a party, all kinds of interesting things can happen.

Idaho and Virginia start chatting about how they might like to switch places, and maybe the other states would like to switch places too.

All the states love the idea. Excitement fills the air, and everybody packs and heads to their new places. This arrangement is much better now, right?!

Kids love this wacky scene of the scrambled states. But we all know that thing that happens when a change seems so exciting at first and then the excitement wears off.

Among other challenges, Florida is now freezing in the north after switching places with Minnesota. Arizona had switched with South Carolina, but the ocean waves are now messing up Arizona’s hair.

If you’ve never read this book, check it out for more fun details – and to see what happened to Kansas, the state that started it all.

Because of strong cause and effect, this happened because that happened. And kids become familiar with the shapes and positions of different states – especially as the states move back into their correct places.

Plus, don’t you love it when a picture book is so clever and educational that somebody turns it into a game/puzzle?!

Thanks for reading & see you next time!


Michelle Meadows

Michelle Meadows is the author of many acclaimed books for children. She loves dreaming up new projects and telling stories with heart. Connection, compassion, and family are common themes in her work. Michelle's books include FLYING HIGH: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles and BRAVE BALLERINA: The Story of Janet Collins. Michelle also contributed to BLACK BALLERINAS: My Journey to Our Legacy by Misty Copeland. Michelle graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and literature. Michelle is represented by literary agent Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Studio. Michelle grew up in Washington, D.C. and now lives near the beach in Delaware with her husband. To learn more about Michelle's books, visit her website:


  1. I looove this book. It’s hilarious and informative. What a combination!

  2. Wow! What a cool concept. Looking forward to checking it out!

  3. I can’t wait to get my hands on this one for my kiddos! What a brilliant idea!

  4. What a fun way to learn -congrats!

  5. Mercy! Is this a cute book and puzzle. Perfect for my nieces and nephews!

  6. I LOVE THIS BOOK! Reminds me of my 18 mo. old grandson who took a bite off the corner of a graham cracker and announced, “UTAH!”

  7. Oh so cute and fun! I love the scrambled states spread! LOL. Great idea and very creative!

  8. A fun and yet educational way to learn about the geography of the states. Perfect!

  9. Jilanne Hoffmann

    I love this book, too! And I’ve used it as a mentor text. Yay!

  10. This is such a fun book with great kid-appeal.

  11. Wow- that sounds like a really fun book!

  12. Ehhhh…. brilliant! I wonder how she came up.with the idea!

  13. I wish my adult children had this book when they were kids! It looks fantastic!

  14. Carole Calladine

    What a fun way to learn about all the states. Thanks for sharing this treasure.

  15. My kids LOVE this book and the puzzle too. So clever and beautifully executed.

  16. This is such a clever book. I’m like Nebraska – I wish I’d thought of it!!! Congratulations!! Plus, I love US map puzzles and games. So fun!!

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