Title: The Year Money Grew on Trees
Author and Illustrator: Aaron R. Hawkins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Concepts: money; savings; entrepreneurship; risk; natural, human, and capital resources; wages; supply and demand; price; competition; producers and consumers
Review: When asking their parents for something they want, many children have heard the response, “Money does not grow on trees.” Yet for thirteen-year-old Jackson Jones and his cousins and younger sisters, money did grow on trees one year when they found themselves immersed in an enormous endeavor to grow and sell apples. It all started with an offer from Jackson’s neighbor Mrs. Nelson, who owned the 300-tree orchard adjacent to their homes, for Jackson to take over the orchard. All he needed to do was earn $8000 from apple sales, hand it over to Mrs. Nelson, and the deed to the orchard would be his.
No sooner had Jackson signed the paperwork formalizing this deal that he realized he knew nothing about growing apples and that he would need some cheap labor to assist him. Having nowhere to turn but a library book and his young relations, Jackson got to work. The effort proved monumental and entailed a steep learning curve that involved pruning trees, figuring out how to drive a tractor, digging irrigation ditches, weeding, spraying poison to kill worms, making decisions about where and how to sell all those apples, and dealing with the risk of Mrs. Nelson failing to uphold her end of the bargain.
Not only does this book embrace a treasure trove of economic concepts, it also has a compelling plot, plenty of humor, and an endearing lead character. Any parent or teacher wanting to use an entertaining novel to teach young learners about entrepreneurial spirit and hard work will find a great match in The Year Money Grew on Trees.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children