Show Me the Money!

Those of us with reluctant readers live for that moment when a book makes a child sparkle. I mean one that holds their interest, makes them laugh or ask questions , and beg for more. For my own child, that moment came with cash. Cold. Hard. Cash.

It began with Gary Paulsen’s fabulous Lawnmower Boy, a summer vacation tale of a boy who inherits his grandfather’s riding mower and half-works, half-stumbles his way into a whole lotta money. Long after the point when he would normally ask to stop reading, my son giggled and rubbed his hands together a la Scrooge McDuck. We had a winner.

This got me thinking about books about moneymakers and fortune-seekers – which of course, led to this list. What I love about this list is that it crosses all sorts of genres – we run the gamut from darkly comic to historical fiction. But these are only a few – please share your favorite money-related book in the comments below!

Rare Beasts (Edgar and Ellen) by Charles Ogden: Edgar and Ellen are ghoulishly troublesome twins who decide to make money by kidnapping their neighbors’ pets and refashioning (and reselling) them as exotic animals. Trouble follows when the neighborhood children turn from teary-eyed to vengeful!

The Get Rich Quick Club by Dan Gutman: The master of the short slapstick novel does it again with a group of friends who solemnly vow they will make a million dollars by the end of the summer. How far will they go to achieve this goal? What about a UFO scam that works so well that one character suggests they have “overestimated the intelligence of the human race”?

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman: Ever since Gil Goodson’s father has been accused of embezzlement, his family has been shunned by the entire town. Gil gets the chance to win the money that will allow them to move away when he enters the Gollywhopper Games, a series of puzzles and challenges at the famed toy factory. Will he win the prize, and maybe even more? This is a great read-along to Roald Dahl’s beloved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Great Brain series, by John D. Fitzgerald: In 19th century Utah, Thomas D. Fitzgerald, aka “The Great Brain” to his little brother, schemes to make money off his friends when he’s not bamboozling the grown-ups. What keeps him from getting run out on a rail though, is his occasional kind heart, which compels him to use his great intelligence for the greater good.

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell: Would you eat 15 worms in 15 days for $50? That is the bet that Billy enters, and he decides to take it on with gusto. When he appears to be a little too enthusiastic about the task, the other guys come up with their own schemes to keep Billy from winning. Who will win this most disgusting of bets?

After reading one of these books, it might be fun to explore one or more of these ideas with your reader:

Could someone pay you to do something that you would not normally do, i.e., eat a fried worm or let someone copy your homework?

How far would you go to make money?

What are things that you cannot put a price tag on?

If you had a million dollars, what would you do with the money? What if you could not spend it on yourself?

And speaking of money…here’s the a great deal for classrooms, book clubs, scout troops and booklovers of all stripes – a free Skype visit with fab author Jen K. Blom, author of POSSUM SUMMER!! All you have to do is click on this link and enter a comment: Did I mention it was FREE?!