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

THE HISTORY OF MONEY

FROM BARTERING TO BANKING

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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This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...

THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Plenty of work for sharp eyes and active intellects in this history-based series opener.

MARY BOWSER AND THE CIVIL WAR SPY RING

From the Spy on History series , Vol. 1

Using a provided packet of helpful tools, readers can search for clues along with a historical spy in the house of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Fans of ciphers and hidden clues will find both in abundance, beginning on the copyright page and continuing to a final, sealed-off section of explanations and solutions. Fictionalized but spun around actual figures and events, the tale centers on Bowser, a free African-American who worked undercover as a maid in Davis’ house and passed information to a ring of white Richmond spies. Here she looks for the key phrase that will unlock a Vigenère cipher—an alphabetic substitution code—while struggling to hide her intelligence and ability to read. As an extra challenge, she leaves the diary in which she records some of her experiences concealed for readers to discover, using allusive and sometimes-misleading clues that are hidden in Cliff’s monochrome illustrations and in cryptic marginal notations. A Caesar cipher wheel, a sheet of red acetate, and several other items in a front pocket supply an espionage starter kit that readers can use along the way; it is supplemented by quick introductions in the narrative to ciphers and codes, including Morse dashes and dots and the language of flowers.

Plenty of work for sharp eyes and active intellects in this history-based series opener. (answers, historical notes, biographies, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7611-8739-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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