Birmingham featured in fact-filled ’50 Cities of the U.S.A’ children’s book

’50 Cities of the U.S.A.’ by Gabrielle Balkan, artwork by Sol Linero.  

Did you know that Birmingham is sung about or mentioned in more than 120 songs? Or, that Birmingham native Mary Anderson invented windshield wipers in 1903?

These and other creative trivia about Alabama’s largest city are featured in the new children’s book “50 Cities of the U.S.A.” The book by Gabriella Balkan (artwork by Sol Linero) is set for a Sept. 7 release. It’s recommended for children ages 7 to 10.

Magic City receives a two-page spread in the map-based illustrated (large) book. Birmingham’s role in the Civil Rights Movement is featured heavily as well as other landmarks like Barber Motorsports, Vulcan Statue and Birmingham Museum of Art. Famous figures like Bear Bryant and Condoleezza Rice are also highlighted.

Balkan said it was a challenge to decide which cities to focus on in her new book.

“To help me choose, I asked others about their favorite places to visit. I turned to friends and family, old roommates … and the barista at my local cafe,” she said in an email to “From some of these people, I learned about the treehouses of Red Mountain Park and the museum at Sloss Furnace. Although writing about these places doesn’t compare to actually visiting them, the experience of researching them is a close second.

“In the end, it was Birmingham’s place in the Civil Rights Movement that made the decision for me,” Balkan said. “In writing about Birmingham, I hoped to pay my respects to the leaders and activists that fought and continue to fight for racial equality.”

For those wanting to visit Birmingham (or just visit from the comfort of their armchair), Balkan provides a list of things to do while visiting the city for a day. One highlight: Serving as a “Zookeeper for a Day” at the Birmingham Zoo, where you can take care of giant Aldabra tortoises.   

Birmingham joins other southern cities like Atlanta, Charleston, Charlotte, Little Rock, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville and New Orleans in the new book. 

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