Lilly and May Learn Why Mom and Dad Work (Anthony Delauney)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lilly and May Learn Why Mom and Dad Work, written by Anthony Delauney and illustrated by Chiara Civati, a household economics crash course for young bookworms.

When Lilly and May’s father leaves for work one morning, the girls are feeling emotional, and ask their mom a point blank question: why do their parents leave them all day to go to work? Their mom explains that work earns their family money, to which the girls are unimpressed, claiming that money is boring. Patiently, their mom explains how important money is to the life they lead, from paying for their clothes and books and the food that they eat, to heating their house, to paying – either directly or through taxes – for the service employees in their lives. By the end, the girls have reached a better understanding of the part that money plays in their lives.

Highly educational, if slightly uneven. Delauney’s writing broaches a ton of practical issues surrounding personal finance in a way that is well-tailored to children’s understanding; his explanation of how taxes on income pay for public services, for instance, is the first of its kind that I’ve seen in a kid’s book, and is incredibly well-executed. Also critical is Mom’s explanation at the end that money is not nearly as valuable to the girls’ parents as their daughters’ unique personalities, talents, and love. The main places the book struggles is the rhyming text, which adds little to the meat of the narrative and loses rhythm on occasion, and the inherent class privilege of the characters. While the financial planning described in the story may work well for middle-class readers and higher, for families in lower SES’s, the idea of saving for emergency funds or annual travel expenses may seem a bit foreign. Other than that, the length is good, Delauney’s illustrations are sweet (if a little overly reliant on traditional gender roles in the depiction of various workers), and JJ enjoyed it. Definitely worth a look, especially for kids curious about their own family’s finances, and Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Dash and Nikki and The Jellybean Game (Anthony C. Delauney)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Dash and Nikki and The Jellybean Game, written by Anthony C. Delauney and illustrated by Chiara Civati, a lesson in the value of saving, sharing, and siblinghood.

Siblings Dash and Nikki awake one morning to a jar of jellybeans and a challenge issued by their parents: each sibling will start with ten jellybeans, and for each hour that passes with ten jellybeans remaining, they will gain five more. Nikki impatiently eats her ten beans right away, but Dash commits to saving his beans, intent on winning the jar of jellybeans at the end of the day. However, after seeing his pile of jellybeans grow and watching his sister mourn her lost opportunity, he makes her a deal: he will loan her ten jellybeans (that she will pay back with interest at the end of the day) so they can complete the game together. Can the siblings make it to their jellybean jar prize?

An intriguing way to explore financial responsibility. Debut author Delauney has a surprising gift for rhyme, an area where many first-time kidlit authors struggle; the text is well-paced and flows nicely, even when read aloud, despite a few slightly awkward lines. Similarly, Civati’s computerized illustrations lack a bit of depth and texture, but are still full of enough engaging characters and visuals to fit the story well. The financial lesson is a solid one, though some backmatter further explaining the concepts of interest and loan repayment might have been helpful. The length isn’t bad for elementary-aged bookworms, and JJ enjoyed the text and, well, the jellybeans. Overall, a solid effort whose strengths well-outweigh any rough edges, and definitely worth a look for caregivers and educators looking to explore financial concepts with kiddos. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)