In an illustrated, easy-to-read story with animal characters, Yang attempts to educate young children about fiscal responsibility.
The second in a series, this slim title follows the adventures of Earl and Eli, a lost pig and a young wolf with a special collar. The narrative establishes their initial meeting in the woods, Earl’s escape from the pig farm’s slaughterhouse and their journey together, as they escape two bulldogs sent to retrieve Earl. At the end of this installment, Earl and Eli end up working in a restaurant to pay off their dinner tab to the owner. Throughout the book, Earl’s love of reading and books is contrasted with Eli’s inability to read, which is portrayed as a key weakness that gets Eli into trouble when he cannot read the restaurant’s menu prices. The importance of literacy within the book is its greatest strength as a learning tool for young children. Via a cute allusion to Charlotte’s Web, Earl mentions that his “spider-friend Charlene” taught him to read, although this title has less depth and emotional impact than E.B. White’s classic. The format, featuring about a dozen black-and-white illustrations, is that of an early-chapter book. While the storyline here is fairly accessible, the brevity of the adventure may be disappointing to young readers eager to see Earl and Eli’s extended, meaningful adventures. It’s also unclear in this installment whether Eli is a wolf or a dog: Within the narrative, Earl refers to him as a dog, but Eli’s internal thoughts mention wolves, while the book’s illustrations portray him ambiguously.
Could entertain a young audience, but more advanced readers will have moved beyond this simple style and plot.