Goodwill, profit margin, the importance of location as it relates to real estate and business ventures: these can be sophisticated financial concepts so how would you explain them to a seven year old? In her book: The Lemonade War, Jacqueline Davies provides in depth explanations of these terms while keeping the story of Evan and his younger sister Jessie moving fast enough so young readers remain interested.
The story opens with fourth grader Evan Treski tossing his baseball and trying to avoid his annoying little sister Jessie. A few days ago Evan's mother received a letter from the school district notifying the Treski family that both Evan and Jessie are going to be in class with the same teacher, Mrs. Overton. Further reading reveals that Jessie should be enrolled in third grade however due to her above average intellect the school system has allowed her to skip a grade.
Evan's dream of owning a new iPod prompts him to open up a lemonade stand. Jessie is certain her older brother will include her and when he doesn't she invites his classmate, Megan, to participate in a joint business venture. Megan's initial reluctance is quickly overcome as Jessie explains how much money can be made, additionally she has a change box with coins and a secret bet to win. Jessie and Evan are both confident that they can make more money than the other person selling lemonade which is how the lemonade war begins.
Drama enters in the form of Evan's friends, the law, Jessie's better sign that draws more customers and Evan dropping the prices on his lemonade. This is where Davies works in underselling as a term and both Evan and Jessie discover that you need to stay ahead of your competition who may come up with unexpectedly creative ideas. Tension builds as the end of summer draws near. Jessie is sure she can win, after all with her head for math and ideas from her mother's book on how to boost sales she's miles ahead of her disorganized brother, near the middle of the book Jessie arrives at a bold plan that will require all the money she's saved since she and Megan started selling lemonade.
By contrast Evan claims that he's taking Saturday off. This news leaves Jessie mystified however she doesn't waste time dwelling on it as she is eager to share her latest idea with Megan. Jessie has decided to franchise her lemonade stand. She's compiled a list of girls that she thinks might be interested but people don't tend to like Jessie. Some girls in her second grade class even formed a WHJ club complete with membership cards. Megan takes some time to write a comment card for Jessie, the girls discuss their franchise plan further and how that pans out is something you'll discover if you read the book.
Packing information about how money works in a children's book with characters that have realistic strengths and weaknesses, demonstrating sibling rivalry, dealing with the aftermath of divorce and how that affects children and pulling it all together with a surprise twist ending makes this book one that children and adults can enjoy. This book was a gift to my oldest daugther from her first grade teacher, I read it in less than an hour and for what this is worth I really liked it.
Jessie is book smart while her brother Evan is people smart, they both learn some life lessons the hard way which ends up making them stronger in the end. This book gets five out of five stars for not pulling punches, the accurate portrayal of an actual business children could run and tips for how to make that business a success. It teaches without preaching and couches financial terms most children are unacquainted with in easy to understand context. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to give a young child a gift that expands their vocabularies and allows them insight into the complex world of gambling, theft, strategic money management and how human behavior can positively or negatively affect profits made from running a lemonade stand.