Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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New Picture Books in 2007

Just click on the titles to read our original reviews for these picture books and easy readers published in 2007.


Title:  Jack of All Tails
Author:  Kim Norman
Illustrator:  David Cark
Publisher:   Dutton Children's Books
ISBN:   978-0-525-47793-8
Year:  2007
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 3.0

Concepts:  entrepreneurship, services, jobs, training

Review:  Kristi, a creative child with bright ideas, persuades her family members to start a family business that helps customers with their pet problems.  By acting like people’s pets, Kristi and family help train children how to own, train, and take care of a pet. Funny examples of their antics include eating crickets, chasing balls, and making puddles on the floor.  Kristi helps to promote the business by pinning up posters, designing a website, and posting a sign on the side of their van.  While Kristi’s family members have no trouble finding regular customers, Kristi’s mishaps make it more difficult for her to find her niche.

This amusing and well-illustrated book weaves important economics lessons about entrepreneurship, services, jobs, and training into an interesting and unique story about using one’s talents and starting a family business.  Primary-grade teachers, parents, and volunteers seeking high-quality children’s literature with useful content will be pleased with this selection.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Title: Juneteenth Jamboree
Author: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrator: Yvonne Buchanan
Publisher: Lee & Low Books

ISBN: 978-1-60060-248-1
Year: 2007 (paperback)

Concepts:  slavery, human resources

Review:  Cassandra has recently moved to Texas and she wonders when the state will feel more like home.  Little does she know that this particular day, June 19, will introduce her to a new holiday she has not celebrated before. Delicious smells in the air, an enormous picnic basket filled with food, a visit from Aunt Bet, and a new dress to wear:  what is all the excitement about? Cassandra soon learns that this day, a legal holiday, commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement by Union Army soldiers in Texas of the abolition of slavery, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.  

The festivities help Cassandra imagine the joy that the freed slaves experienced on that important day, and help her to feel a stronger connection with her new home state. With its lively text and warm illustrations, Juneteenth Jamboree provides a useful opportunity to introduce children to a holiday they may know less about, and to talk about why it took more than two years for the Emancipation Proclamation to be enforced in Texas.

Review by: The Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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Title: Lucky Jake
Author:  Sharon Hart Addy
Illustrator:  Wade Zahares
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Company
ISBN:  978-0-61847286-4
Year:  2007

  barter, trade, natural resources, entrepreneurship

 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

How to Get This Book

Title:  Llama Llama Mad at Mama
Author and Illustrator:  Anna Dewdney
Publisher:  Viking (Penguin Group)
ISBN:  0-670-06240-9
Year:  2007
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  1.9

Concepts:  wants and needs, goods, markets

Review:  Llama llama, no different from other kids his age, would rather continue playing than head off with Mama to the Shop-O-Rama.  Mama probably feels much the same way, but the weekly groceries and errands need to get done.  Llama llama grows progressively more agitated during the shopping expedition, resulting in a tantrum that sends the shopping cart contents scattering throughout the aisle. Clever mama finds a way to calm her son and finish buying what they need at the supermarket.  The book, with marvelous illustrations that clearly express Llama llama’s growing frustration, can be used to teach young children about wants and needs, goods, and markets. Also essential is the message that parents can find grocery shopping just as tedious as their little ones.

Review by:
  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children.

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  Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies & Little Misses of Color
Author:  Elizabeth Alexander and Marilyn Nelson
Illustrator:  Floyd Cooper
Publisher:  Wordsong
ISBN: 978-1-59078-456-3
Year:  2007
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level:  5.9

Concepts:  discrimination, education

Review:  Prudence Crandall, a young schoolteacher with a Quaker upbringing, started a boarding school for female students in Canterbury, Connecticut in 1831.  Although the townspeople had helped to establish the school, their support soon changed into outrage when Ms. Crandall accepted a young African American woman from Boston. Outrage led to withdrawal of the white students as Ms. Crandall admitted a second student of color, and by early 1833 the school had only black girls in attendance. 

Efforts by the townspeople to close the school intensified as they arrested and briefly jailed Ms. Crandall, harassed the students, stopped selling provisions to the school, and ultimately ransacked the building and set it on fire.  Although the town succeeded in closing the school, Ms. Crandall continued to speak out about social justice across the country, and ultimately the town of Canterbury made reparations for their wrongful actions.

Elizabeth Alexander (poet for the 2009 inauguration of President Obama) and Marilyn Nelson (poet laureate of the state of Connecticut, 2002-06), use a series of carefully-crafted and beautiful sonnets to relate the story of Prudence Crandall and her students.  The uncertainties of leaving home for a boarding school, the joys of gaining new knowledge, the frustration in encountering resistance from the town, and the fears of experiencing harassment are all captured in the powerful verses.  Floyd Cooper’s moving illustrations work extremely well in helping the reader to interpret the poems. This unique book of poetry provides teachers and parents with a new opportunity for teaching important lessons about discrimination, education, and U.S. history.

Review by:  Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

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