Title: The Fying Bed
Author: Nancy Willard
Illustrator: John Thompson
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 5.0
Concepts: poverty, entrepreneurship, wants and needs, consumers
Review: Guido and his spouse, Maria, live in the beautiful city of Florence in a small apartment over the bakery they inherited from Guido’s father. Although they work extremely hard and lead frugal lives, the money they generate from the bakery is simply not enough to cover their living costs. A dwindling customer base is the main reason for this sorry state of affairs, for Guido, unlike his father, skimped on the key ingredients and made flavorless dough. Although Guido resorted to selling off their furniture, piece by piece, Maria drew the line when he sold their bed and she demanded that he find a new one.
Serendipity leads Guido to an extraordinary bed shop, where he acquires what is, unbeknownst to him, a magical bed. This bed takes Guido and Maria to a magical town far away, where a master baker gives them a special kind of yeast. When Guido and Maria bake bread with the unusual yeast, the delicious smells and tastes bring them so many new customers that their financial constraints disappear virtually overnight. Unfortunately, they learn the hard way that such a gift is not to be squandered through greed and short-sightedness.
The Flying Bed offers readers a powerful set of lessons about entrepreneurship and poverty, cleverly woven into an imaginative story with stunning images. Children and adults alike will appreciate the interesting plot, the well-developed characters, and the eye-catching scenes from Florence and the bakery. This first-rate book makes a valuable addition to any collection of children’s literature with substantive content and dramatic illustrations. The Flying Bed puts fun and magic into the business of learning economics.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children