Fifty States Of Fiction: Illinois


We can’t always travel to the places on our bucket list. But we can go there with books! I started the Fifty States Of Fiction challenge with the aim of reading one book from every state in the country. Each week in 2017 I’ll be here to talk about a different state, share with you some geographical fun facts, and explore how a novel, play, or personal narrative captures the essence of the area. Want to follow along? Check out this free printable calendar I’ve created just for you! Let’s get started!


Today’s State: Illinois

Nickname: Prairie State

Motto: “State Sovereignty, National Union”

Bird: Cardinal

Flower: Wood violet

Entered the union in: 1818

Now, pack your bags everybody. We’re about to explore Illinois as Susan Campbell Bartoletti portrays it in Down The Rabbit Hole: The Diary Of Pringle Rose.


After her parents die in a horrible carriage accident, Pringle takes her brother on a train ride to Illinois in search of a better life. When they arrive in Chicago, the sun is just beginning to set, casting the nearby prairie land in a scarlet blaze. The streets are crowded. People either walk, clomping across the wooden sidewalks, or fly down the pinewood streets in horse drawn carts. Two branches of the Chicago River divide the city into three sections: west, south, and north. In the south, Pringle watches from Peter Pritchard’s union newspaper office as vicious fires engulf the land just past the water’s edge. She works hard as a nursemaid in a tasteful two-story frame house on Sherman Street. Eventually, when The Great Fire Of Chicago leaps across the water, Pringle is forced to abandon her new home as everything, even the gleaming white courthouse with its fire bell dome, burns to ashes around her.

Have you read any other books set in Illinois? Have you traveled there yourself? Make sure to let me know what the Prairie State means to you in the comments! Check back here next week to explore Indiana through literature.

And remember, if you want to keep up with our schedule as we travel the country, you can download my free printable calendar.

See you all next week!


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