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New Picture Books in 2009

Just click on the titles to read our original reviews for these picture books and easy readers published in 2009.


Title: A Chair for Always
Author and Illustrator: Vera B. Williams
Publisher: Greenwillow
ISBN: 978-0-06-172279-0
Year: 2009

Concepts: saving, interdependence

Review: Vera Williams’ A Chair for Always marks the fourth appearance of Rosa, the girl who helped her mother and grandmother save up for a new chair in the 1983 Caldecott Honor Book A Chair for My Mother.  While the main event of the book is the birth of Rosa’s new cousin Benji, the theme of the story is the importance of the hard-earned, rose-covered chair.  Rosa’s mother and even her grandmother want to recover or replace the worn and stained chair.  However, Rosa has other ideas and is already looking forward to telling Benji all about the chair.  She reminds everyone how long it took to save the money to buy the chair and all the memories associated with it.   Rosa’s outburst, “Don’t you even care about history?”  demonstrates her emotional tie to the beloved chair.  Rosa is so attached to the chair that she states that no matter where she goes in the future, the chair will go with her---even if she becomes president.

It has been over twenty-five years since Rosa’s last adventure, but  readers who enjoyed Rosa’s close-knit family and neighbors in Williams’ three previous books about her will enjoy this touching story of the birth of a cousin and the importance of family traditions.  An entire new generation of children can meet the industrious Rosa.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Title: A Child's Garden: A Story of Hope
Author and illustrator: Michael Forman
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4271-6
Year: 2009

Concepts: natural resources, scarcity, economics of conflict

Review: A young child lives in an area ravaged by war, with a large, ominous barbed-wire fence that separates the ruins where he lives from the nice village and lovely hills on the other side. Anyone could feel utter despair to live under such conditions, but the boy sees hope in a small green sapling that he finds growing in the rubble. He waters and nurtures the plant as it transforms into a splendid grapevine that covers the barbed wire and attracts butterflies, songbirds, and other children. Although the soldiers from the other side destroy the vine, they are no match for the resilience of children, the depth of plant roots, and the power of the wind to spread seeds.

This inspiring book, which follows in the tradition of Michael Foreman's earlier Mia's Story, provides a clear lesson about hope in the face of scarcity and conflict. Both these books are top-notch choices for teaching children about the insidiousness of extreme poverty and the importance of thinking about solutions for a way out.

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Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Title: A Kid's Guide to Stock Market Investing
Author: Tamra Orr
Publisher: Mitchell Lane
ISBN: 978-1-58415-642-0
Year: 2009

Concepts: stock market, savings, investment, financial institutions

Review:  Just about every state has content standards beginning in kindergarten covering important concepts in economics. These content requirements, together with the media attention paid to the importance of financial literacy, have led to a greater need for books that will help children to become more informed about the economic world around them. The new book series Money Matters: A Kid’s Guide to Money helps to fill a niche in this literature.

One of the books in the series, A Kid’s Guide to Stock Market Investing, provides an extensive overview of the operation, history, and organization of stock markets, with a focus on the major exchanges in the United States. The author takes what could amount to an overwhelming topic and formulates it into more manageable terms for younger people to comprehend.  That said, the large number of definitions, detailed historical narrative, and relatively complex concepts make the book more appropriate for middle grade readers and older children. Livening up the book are well-known company logos and examples of companies that try to make it fun to hold stock by sending gift boxes to shareholders at the end of the year.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

 

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Title: A Kid's Guide to Earning Money
Author: Tamra Orr
Publisher: Mitchell Lane
ISBN: 978-1-58415-643-7
Year: 2009

Concepts: jobs, saving, money

Review: Just about every state has content standards beginning in kindergarten covering important concepts in economics. These content requirements, together with the media attention paid to the importance of financial literacy, have led to a greater need for books that will help children to become more informed about the economic world around them. The new book series Money Matters: A Kid’s Guide to Money helps to fill a niche in this literature.

One of the books in the series, A Kid’s Guide to Earning Money, builds on children’s understanding that their families do not have a limitless amount of money and that it must be earned. Motivated by the example of a class that needs to raise funds for a fieldtrip, this book explains to young learners how they can generate some cash. A number of moneymaking suggestions are offered, including pet-sitting, running a carwash, and mowing people’s lawns.

For those old enough to be legally employed, the author offers job-seeking tips and an overview of relevant labor laws covering children. Although some of the book’s illustrations are a bit contrived, the reader should walk away with a clearer sense of ways to earn money beyond getting an allowance and doing household chores.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Title: Ace Lacewing Bug Detective: Bad Bugs Are My Business
Author and Illustrator: David Biedrzycki
Publisher: Charlesbridge
ISBN: 978-1-57091-692-2
Year: 2009

Concepts: competition, incentives, entrepreneur, strikes, wages

Review: Ace Lacewing, the best detective in town, has a new case to solve.  The client, a small flea named Scratch Murphy who owns Six Legs Amusement Park, has a big problem: someone hit him on the head with a toolbox and stole his flea bag stuffed with money. Without that money, Scratch cannot pay back the construction loan he took out from the bank. 

Armed with his keen detective skills and trusty companions, Ace Lacewing loses no time in digging for clues and interrogating the suspects.  The banker needed money for an expensive trip; the carpenter ants had gone on strike over their low wages; Bo Weevil was hopping mad that Scratch had put Bo’s cotton candy stand right next to a competing honey stand; and Scratch’s girl-friend and his brother were observed exchanging a suspicious package.  Everyone has a motive, so who stole the money?

Young readers of all ages will enjoy this fast-paced and clever book.  Not only do the bug puns come fast and furious, the marvelous illustrations add a wealth of bug humor and visual detail. On top of the wit, the author uses a number of economic incentives to shape the suspects’ motives, making Bad Bugs Are My Business a truly satisfying read all-around.

Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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