The Lemonade War
Scholastic, 2007 177 pgs
Alternating points of view tell the stories of siblings Evan and Jessie. Evan is very annoyed that his younger sister will be skipping third grade and will be joining him in his fourth grade class. Jessie is so smart that he feels stupid and slow in comparison. Jessie is terrified to start fourth grade with older kids. Will they accept her? She never has been great at understanding social cues. To make matters worse, her brother is angry at her and she doesn't know why. When Jessie suggests that they host a lemonade stand, an activity the siblings have always enjoyed together, Evan proposes a competition. Whoever makes the most money gets all of the earnings. The contest is on. Evan enlists the help of the nastiest boy in his class and Jessie partners up with the girl Evan has a crush on. Different salesmanship tips are employed as the teams change up their strategies to earn the most money. Finally, out of desperation, the children begin to resort to deceit and dirty pool. The once close brother and sister are now enemies and it seems like they will never come back together. Finally, the Labor Day heatwave breaks, the line of communication opens, and the brother and sister begin to work out their differences and formulate a plan to set everything back to rights.
What is my favorite book? Usually the one I have just finished. I have loved the Lemonade War ever since its release almost ten years ago and find it to be the perfect choice for an introductory book club book for my younger readers. The Labor Day setting makes it the perfect end-of-summer read. Kids can relate to the anxieties of starting a new school year and how we tend to take those anxieties out on those we love. Here in New Jersey we had such a hot summer and I also related to the heat wave in this suburban town and the boredom and misery the dog days of summer can bring. Most siblings can identify with the rivalry behind the brother and sister team in this book. Jessie is smart, yet does not understand social cues. Evan struggles academically, yet is popular and has many friends. They both bring something to the table, yet are a little jealous of the skills the other sibling has in which they themselves lack. The plot moves along in an entertaining fashion and builds to a final climax and a thunderstorm, ending both the war and the heatwave. A newspaper article and visual at the end of the book supply an epilogue on how the situation was remedied in a non-tradition and entertaining fashion. Best of all, math is sprinkled throughout the book, showing children that math is important in the real world and demonstrating, through Evan's voice, how to figure out problems in a different way. Economic concepts are also included, shown and defined as chapter headings and then modeled in action by our super-sales teams. The reading level is comfortable for this age group, the plot engaging, the characters are relatable, and there are sequels to hand to children when they finish this book to keep them reading.