Title: Lucky Beans
Author: Becky Birtha
Illustrator: Nicole Tadgell
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Concepts: Great Depression, unemployment, scarcity
Review: Marshall knew that times were tough, but that did not really help him feel any more grateful to see the pot of beans cooking on the stove. After all, they ate beans just about every night. Like many households, the Great Depression had hit Marshall's family hard with the loss of his father's job, the cramped living situation after his relatives moved in, and the shortage of money for food and clothes.
Those beans, though, took on a whole different meaning when Marshall spotted a sign in a store window challenging people to guess how many beans were in the enormous pickle jar. The winner would take home a brand new sewing machine worth $23.95. Although Marshall desperately wanted to help his mother win that prize, he knew they had to overcome two obstacles. Not only did they need to make a better guess than everyone else, they also had to find out if the storeowner would even allow a woman of color to win the contest.
Based on real events in the life of the author's grandmother, this new book helps today's generation of young readers better understand the difficult economic times and the racial discrimination of the Great Depression years. With illustrations that beautifully match the text's subtle humor and grace, Lucky Beans is an ideal choice when seeking picture books that are rich in substantive content.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children