Title: Lucky Jake
Author: Sharon Hart Addy
Illustrator: Wade Zahares
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Concepts: barter, trade, natural resources, entrepreneurship
Review: Jake and his father had joined countless other prospectors in the west panning for gold. Life was difficult, and Jake yearned for the company of a pet dog while his father dreamed of eating something other than beans. Fortunately their luck turned around when Pa found a good-sized gold nugget. Although the storekeeper had no dog to sell, Jake did wind up with a pet pig that had a nose for sniffing out long-forgotten treasures and ears for hearing unlikely visitors. Little did Jake and Pa know that these traits would start a chain of events that could help them make a living without having to pan for gold.
This appealing book may start off with the simple premise of a child wanting a pet, but the story quickly develops into a clever story loaded with economics concepts that include natural resources, barter, and entrepreneurship. Bold illustrations with unusual lighting and angles further add to Lucky Jake’s unique quality. The gold rush setting can help to spark a lively discussion with children about an important chapter in U.S. history and the challenges that prospectors faced when searching for gold.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children