Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Picture Book Review - Lemonade in Winter by Emily Jenkins

Ooooh boy, does it seem like winter around here! In the Northwest that's more about rain and gray days than it is about snow, though Sprout is convinced it's going to snow ON CHRISTMAS and he will be super disappointed if (when?) it doesn't. And since he's been a little snow-obsessed these past few weeks we've been reading a bunch of books about wintry climes. Think penguins, polar bears, sledding, snowmen and of course our favorite Ezra Jack Keats classic (which honestly we just read all year round).

The other thing that's a running theme in the Kinser household these days is counting. Sprout is counting everything of late, with relish, and can actually get up to thirty, more or less accurately. Watching him learn these building blocks of knowledge is so exciting for us -- it's like having a front row seat to a pretty amazing discovery. The thrill for him in understanding how the numbers come together, and recognizing a pattern, is just palpable, and I love seeing this.

So with these two obsessions in mind, I was pretty thrilled to bring home today's pick, Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money. This quirky picture book is written by Emily Jenkins, who happens to be the author of one of our big favorites from earlier this year, What Happens on Wednesdays. And it's illustrated by G. Brian Karas, who we also adore -- so, win-win right from the get-go.

Beyond that, how can you not be charmed by a book whose premise is siblings who, bored one very cold and snowy day, decide to have a lemonade stand. Yup, a for-real, on-the-corner, ice-cubes-and-all lemonade stand. Though Mom and Dad try to dissuade Pauline and John-John, the kids are determined. And so they count out money for supplies, mix up their product and hit the streets -- in parkas and earmuffs, no less -- chanting their slogan: "Lemon lemon lime, lemon LIMEade! / Lemon lemon lime, lemon LEMONade!" (Catchy, no?)

This tale of young entrepreneurship is not only fun, it's a great learning experience to boot. (Just skip over the subtitle when you read it to your kiddos -- without it the "learning part" will just sneak right up on them!) At every turn, Pauline is educating her young brother about counting money, how many coins make up a dollar and how they can make back their initial supply investment. You don't see that kind of thing too often in a book that is this accessible to the younger crowd, so kudos to Jenkins for including it. And then there's the perserverance both kiddos show. When business is slow, as you might expet it to be when you're selling cold drinks in wintertime, the siblings come up with creative ways to boost their sales. Plus -- huge bonus in my book -- there's a truly multicultural cast of characters here, which we see as we meet the various members of Pauline and John-John's neighborhood. Love that!

In the end, is Pauline and John-John's project a success? Well, you'll have to be the judge of that. But what I can tell you, with certainty, is that this is a picture book that's not only whimsical and bursting with community, but that's solidly based in math and counting skills as well. And in whatever season you read this amusing story, you're bound to get your money's worth!

Lemonade in Winter by Emily Jenkins, published by Schwartz and Wade
Ages: 3-6
Source: Library
Sample: "'Maybe nobody is on the street,' says Pauline, after a bit. 'Maybe nobody will want cold drinks.' / 'I'm on the street,' says John-John. 'I want them.' He grabs a cup of limeade. / 'Don't drink too much,' Pauline warns. 'It's fifty cents a cup.'"

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