Title: The Talent Show
Author: Dan Gutman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Concepts: fundraising, competition, incentives, class, small businesses.
Review: Cape Bluff, Kansas, a working class town located in the heart of Tornado Alley, had a long history of surviving physical and economic devastation. Although the population had dwindled to the most resilient folks, the townspeople were fed up when the latest tornado struck, the worst ever in Cape Bluff’s history and the cause of some $34 million worth of damage. Numerous people who could not afford insurance faced total destruction to their homes and cars, businesses suffered extensive damage, and the elementary school library lost all its books.
Resiliency, though, took hold once again when the principal suggested they hold a talent show to lift spirits and raise money for the library. The idea caught on quickly, especially when a number of local businesspeople offered free goods and services to support the show’s production, including a brand new Hummer for the grand prize. Cape Bluff’s student body included a number of budding singers, dancers, musicians, and comedians, virtually all of whom dreamed about shining on stage and bringing home that Hummer. Who would win, and could the show raise the money they needed?
The Talent Show offers up an entertaining blend of suspense and adolescent drama as a bunch of talented youngsters go head to head to become the next Cape Bluff Idol. Cleverly intertwined with the story are a number of economics ideas related to class, incentives, small businesses, and fundraising. The book will likely encourage readers to think about how they could use their own talents to raise money for a good cause.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children