Big Money: What It Is, How We Use It, and Why Our Choices Matter

Holt. Oct. 2023. 176p. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781250853134.
Gr 3-7–Experienced nonfiction and fiction author Donnelly has produced an informative title that combines zany humor and dead seriousness to explain a wide range of topics related to money, economics, and wealth. Employing innovative examples, she weaves together historical facts, big economical concepts, and calls to action. Occasional quirky illustrations add visual appeal. Citing instances of strange items like giant stones used historically as currency, Donnelly explains the difference between money as a concept and money as a physical object, kicking off seven chapters filled with information relatable to kids. Her introduction to economic concepts like supply and demand, market economy, and inflation employs brownie sundaes and quotes from philosopher/economist Adam Smith to relay information at a surprisingly suitable level for a range of young readers. The text encourages conversation with trusted adults, particularly the latter chapters, which discuss traditional employment vs. gig work, Gross Domestic Products in the United States and around the world, and how economic choices can affect young people. After frank discussions of income inequality (using sandwiches as currency), and the effect of big business on the environment, the book comes to a close with a series of questions and suggestions to get kids considering plans for the future and examining their own money-related values.
VERDICT Although the topic may not immediately appeal to a typical browsing reader, a teacher or librarian could easily book talk this charming title into a middle grader or middle schooler’s backpack.

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