A New Children’s Book Shines a Spotlight on Milwaukee

Milwaukee gets its five minutes of fame in a new children’s book.

Meant to celebrate all of the people, places and cultural icons that have made America what it is today, 50 Cities of the U.S.A. by Gabrielle Balkan is not just for children. Milwaukee’s whimsical and colorful two-page spread inside the oversize hardcover book features a map of the city detailing the different neighborhoods, points of interest and dozens of obscure and well-known facts about the city.  

Our fine city is is represented by some of our most famous corporations (Master Lock, Harley-Davidson), buildings (Milwaukee City Hall) and weird factoids like: “In 1973 in nearby Brookfield, two moms invented Shrinky Dinks as a Cub Scout project with their sons.” Bragging rights go to the Klement’s Famous sausage race during Brewers home games, not the first thing that would have come to my mind when gushing about our city. There is even a lengthy description of how Milwaukee earned the title “City of Festivals.”

Famous Milwaukeeans featured are: astronaut Leroy Chiao, Ph.D; writer Marguerite Henry; politician and activist Golda Meir; writer and artist Ty Defoe; soccer star Sarah Hagen; and engineer and businessman William S. Harley.

There is also an hourly itinerary of attractions, starting with hearing the squeak of a gooey cheese curd and hunting for the Bronze Fonz on the Riverwalk, and ending with the less cliche “Read the award-winning The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, who was born in Racine and now lives in Madison.”

50 Cities of the U.S.A. is currently available at Boswell Books (2559 N Downer Ave.) and online. But please, support your local book seller!

(Click to enlarge) Milwaukee spread in the new book 50 Cities of the U.S.A by Gabrielle Balkan. Photo courtesy of the Quarto group.



Jenna Kashou is a writer, storyteller and journalist specializing in lifestyle and culture feature writing for print and web. She is a frequent contributor to Milwaukee Magazine, MKE Lifestyle Magazine, The Business Journal and more. She was chosen as the fifth writer in residence at the historic Pfister Hotel where she wrote about and photographed guests and events. A Milwaukee native, Kashou has lived abroad and visited far-flung locales like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina. She has always had an enormous sense of pride for her hometown and spreads this Milwaukee love everywhere she goes.