Author: Jeanne Steig
Illustrator: Britt Spencer
Publisher: Philomel Books
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 4.3
Concepts: barter, trade
Review: Quantz is a happy-go-lucky fellow whose fortune changes back and forth in the course of a single day filled with chance meetings and exchanges. He sets out to work in his vegetable garden but stumbles upon a shaggy dog in need of a good scratch. In return for his good deed, Quantz picks up a bad case of fleas. Fortunately Quantz meets a woman down the road who would rather have fleas than the talkative uncle who jabbers away in her ear, so they trade. Of course Quantz quickly tires of the constant chit-chat. Luckily, he next meets a lonely man with a heavy load of cheese, so they barter, and the man has company while Quantz can nibble on some tasty cheese.
And so the story continues, with each trade making Quantz a bit happier. The brisk story-line and very funny, quirky illustrations make this book an appealing choice for teaching children about barter and exchange. These concepts are among the first economics lessons that kids learn at school and through their own experiences in daily life. Fleas! offers an amusing alternative for reinforcing the idea that trade can make people better off.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children