Capitol Kitty, Capitol Kids

Linda Burton posting from Sacramento, California“The Adventures of Capitol Kitty, an Almost True Story” (ISBN 0-439-45069-1, Scholastic, 2002) is a cats-eye view of how state government really works. Sharon Davis wrote the book during the time she was First Lady of California, about a real cat who lived just outside her office. She created a delightful tale to help young people get a sense of who works at the capitol. Proceeds from the sale of the book go towards the Governor’s Book Fund, a non-profit program established to provide grants to California schools for the purchase of library books. Buy a copy at the California State Capitol Museum Bookstore; your kids will love it – Capitol Kitty and Scare D Cat not only learn about the capitol, they also get an adventuresome fright, and a greater understanding of friendship and courage.

Then take your kids on a capitol tour for their own real-life adventures. They will really love that! I watched today as spring-break kids filled every inch of available capitol space; looking, listening, gasping, snapping pictures right and left, leaning on the bronze grizzly bear that sits outside the governor’s door and giving him a pat. Yes, that’s why he’s called Bacteria Bear.

Mario Cano, a Guide with the California Department of Parks working at the State Capitol Museum, is a master storyteller, weaving personal anecdotes with straight-out facts about the construction of the capitol, or how a bill becomes a law. I joined his tour, along with eager kids and parents, a few grandparents too. Mario coalesced us as a group by asking where we’re from, and why we came today, then led us to the second floor to show his favorite view – straight out towards capitol mall. He took us back in time, imagine this, picture that. The 400-pound wooden doors, the earthquake damage, the intricacy and intensiveness of the repairs. We followed every word.

How does an artist sign his work when told he can’t? Why does Governor Brown’s portrait look so different from the rest? Why are the colors in the Senate Chamber red, while green is used in the House? Why was gold used only high up in the dome and not down low? “Because somebody might steal it!” answered Colby, a third-grader whose mom had brought him on the train for a together day.

I thanked Mario for an A+ Tour, and I thank California for caring about kids and supporting programs that stimulate our desire to learn a little more, ask another question, be interested and involved. As my wise friend said, so long ago, “To make good old people, you have to start them young.”

A PS note: Mario started young. He told us he practically grew up in the capitol; his mother has worked there more than 30 years.

Capitol Kids Page: