The Dillons illustrate the familiar verses of Ecclesiastes in the King James version, one spread for every double-edged phrase, e.g., “a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” They have taken inspiration for these gouache, acrylic, watercolor, and ink paintings the great art of the world; the opening image is based on the Book of Kells; among other styles used are Japanese ukiyo-e, Greek red-and-black pottery, kiva painting, medieval woodcuts, Russian icons, and Thai shadow plays. Every one is executed with meticulous precision and great feeling; all are annotated at the end. This is a gift book in the best sense, to be read often; if children don’t respond immediately to its overall formality, they will surely find pages to pore over herein. (Picture book. 9+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-590-47887-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

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A thoughtful and entertaining story of how we got from trading a pig for a sack of rye to “Chapter Fifteen: In which we...



A snappy course in the evolution of exchange.

Jenkins is thorough but not so thorough as to make the dismal science dismal to his readers. He offers lively explanations for barter, then refinements on the bartering system and the moment when parties agreed upon a medium of exchange: wampum, gemstones—and gold, in all its luster, its malleability, its exquisiteness. From there, he takes readers to weights and measures; banks, black markets and usury; interest earned and interest paid; inflation and deflation; crashes and runs on banks. Maybe because there has been enough already, Jenkins steers clear of loan-sharking and what happens when you can’t pay your debt. It’s all related in a simple, colloquial style that will keep readers engaged: “Wouldn’t it be handy if you could swap your goat for something easy to keep and carry around and that everybody wanted?” The text is urged along by the fine illustrations of Kitamura, which sometimes hint at the old Johnny Hart comic strip “B.C.,” with its touch of subversive humor. Jenkins closes with a caution: “[T]here’s a danger that you start believing that buying and selling are the only important things in life”—how many economics textbooks include that?

A thoughtful and entertaining story of how we got from trading a pig for a sack of rye to “Chapter Fifteen: In which we discover how easy it is for money to disappear.” (author’s note, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6763-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Readers can learn a lot about resilience from this appealingly earnest but humorous hero.


After immigrating to America with her family, a Chinese girl faces big adjustments in this debut middle-grade novel.

Eleven-year-old fifth grader Luolan Xia has a happy life in Shanghai. She has a loving family, which consists of her parents, Mama and Baba; her older brother, Lizhong (in sixth grade); and her 2-year-old brother, Ming Ming. She also enjoys school (even tests) and has a great best friend in Haiqing Xu. So when her parents announce that they’re moving to the United States, Luolan is shocked at the news and sad to leave Haiqing behind. The journey to Massachusetts is long and full of new experiences, not always pleasant. But on the flight, Luolan does meet Olivia Deacon, a friendly girl her age who just happens to be her new next-door neighbor; they’ll both be attending Andrew Jackson Middle School. On her first night in America, Luolan writes a list of four goals to accomplish: “1. Make three new friends. 2. Learn English. 3. Get people to like me. 4. Find a reason to call America ‘home.’ ” Obstacles include a mean girl, racist remarks, and old friend/new friend jealousy, but Luolan persists. A middle schooler herself, Shao delivers an accomplished tale, offering a voice that’s authentic and amusing. Commenting on an amusement park ride, for example, Luolan notes: “The Skydive Dragon was not very skydive-y.” Some coincidences are highly unlikely, and a bully’s newly displayed self-awareness is awfully sudden, but these flaws are outweighed by the book’s strengths. For instance, the author nails tween friend drama, often played out via text, and demonstrates the growing responsibilities of middle schoolers, including figuring out a class project.

Readers can learn a lot about resilience from this appealingly earnest but humorous hero.

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-951742-48-5

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Mulberry Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

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