Friday, May 3, 2013
LEMONADE IN WINTER by Emily Jenkins
The chant will stay with you long after the last page is turned: "Lemon lemon LIME, lemon LIMEADE! Lemon lemon LIME, lemon LEMONADE! All that it will cost ya? Fifty cents a cup!" (not sure about you, but that last line really nails it for me). And with it the image of two determined young children ready to capitalize on their entrepreneurial spirit in order to liven up an otherwise cold, snowy winter's day. When Pauline peeks out of her apartment window and sees the blank open street, the immediate vision is a lemonade stand (naturally). I particularly loved the opening, with the surprisingly warm illustrations of a cold day, and one brightly lit window holding a tiny smiling head. The words start the reader off on an adventure too: "An empty street. Outside, a mean wind blows." Pauline has her work cut out for her, but she will prevail. So, against the well-meaning admonishments from her parents, Pauline and her little brother John-John scavenge through the house for quarters, and in doing so, take the reader into a lyrical journey through counting, adding, and learning about the value of money.
I really loved this book for its many layers. On the surface, you have two children who constantly adapt to their challenging surroundings (No people around? Time for a discount! Not enough attention? Let's advertise!) and gain admirers and customers through their endeavor. It's a sweet tale of sister teaching brother how to count money—but more than that, she instills the value of money into him. That leads to my second level of admiration: learning the real value of money. Does that only mean that four lemons cost a dollar, and two dollars for cups?
Nope, because by the end Pauline realizes that despite their efforts, they had spent six dollars on supplies, but only earned four dollars worth of quarters in sales. So she and the reader have a sense of disappointment that their hard work did not lead to success. But the "value" of money doesn't end there. Her brother John-John reminds Pauline that it still amounts to something, "Sixteen [quarters] is money!" says John-John... "Will sixteen quarters buy two popsicles?" Leave it to the youngest to have the most faith. And so, by the end, Pauline and her brother share the fruits of their labor by realizing they can have two sweetly sour lime and lemon popsicles. The value of money becomes the value of the shared experience.
This is an exceptional book for introducing a child to the idea of money. The illustrations also carry the reader through all the steps in soft tones, never overwhelming, just perfect for the sunshine and vibrance that the two kids bring to their glum sidewalk. Kids and parents, students and teachers will feel truly enriched through this reading experience.