08 Dec What We’re Reading Now – Holiday Book Review Special
By Grant T. Smith
Christmas, for me, has always been about children and the magic of the winter season – days off school, snow, snowmen and magical lights everywhere you look. Since it is a time for children and since so many clients, staff and partners are consumed with the joy of raising children, it is time for a couple of books just for the kids. I have chosen two for us to look at:
- Lemonade in Winter, A Book About Two Kids Counting Money, by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by G. Brian Karas
- Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday, by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz.
Lemonade in Winter tells the tale of Pauline, who, while staring outside at the snow and icicles, decides to set up a lemonade stand. Both mom and dad express their doubts about the success of such a venture in winter, but her little brother John-John is onboard and the adventure begins.
The tale includes:
- A search for capital, with money counting along the way.
- An investment in inventory and supplies, with cost of sales considerations.
- Various attempts at drawing the needed clientele including promotions, pricing and add-on considerations.
- A reconciliation of the activities, with money counting along the way.
In the end, the business is more successful than might be expected, but ultimately not a going concern. The siblings learn many lessons and they would be fun to share with your 3 to 7 year olds.
I am not particularly qualified to remark on the illustrations. I may not know art, but I know what I like. I like this. The illustrations capture a charming youth in the characters of the children and their journey is well-rendered but youthful stylings that I assume will be welcoming for children of all ages.
You could have a lot of fun with your children, or grandchildren, helping them to see the value of money and for an added bonus, the back of the book has a charming section devoted to understanding coins (all together to American, I am afraid, although the print edition could be different).
Now for Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday, which tells the story of a young boy who was given a dollar by Grandma and Grampa on Sunday and finds that money has a tendency to disappear, without careful controls.
The art in this book is a black and white sketch style and rings true; it invites the reader to engage with the characters and had me in Alexander’s corner from the very start. Each picture is full of fun details and rich with characterization, and by the end of the book you have a strong knowledge of the family and their world through the graphics as much as, or more than, the text.
In the story, Alexander’s older brothers seem to get all the deals and Alexander all the lessons, but, at least for me, there was never a sense of anything but value in each lesson for your children 4 and over. I did wonder about the cost of various things and where in the world he managed to find a pay phone (or how he knew what it was when he found it).
I have to add that the line, “I told my grandpa and grandma to come back soon” was rife with a recognition of why our grandchildren are actually glad to see us. Hmm? Capitalism thrives.
Let me close by wishing all of you and your families the very best of the holiday season. 2017 has been a great year full of books that surprised me, disappointed me, made me weep and taught me a lot of great lessons. It is my hope that you have gotten some value from our efforts, if so please invite a friend or two to sign up for Your Clearline, we always need new readers and we have included a link here.
All the best for 2018, I think it is going to be exciting.