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September 05, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

AWESOME ALMANAC: Minnesota compiled and written by Jean F. Blashfield (B & B Publishing: $12.95; 175 pp., illustrated, paperback original) and Wisconsin compiled and written by Margie Benson & Nancy Jacobson (B & B Publishing: 12.95; 159 pp., illustrated, paperback original). This new series about the 50 states is upbeat, enthusiastic and, frequently, more than a little silly. Both books offer a wealth of trivia but no good maps of the states or their major cities. The authors note that in Minnesota, the snow absorbs nitrates, calcium, potassium and sulfates from the air and releases them into the soil, providing about $20 worth of free fertilizer per acre; that Wisconsin boasts a Spinning Top Museum in Burlington; that Tom Hulce was born in Whitewater, Wis., and Loni Anderson in St. Paul, Minn. The editors of the Encyclopedia Brittanica needn't worry about competition from the "Awesome Almanacs," but the books could pep up a car trip to the Midwest.

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