A BOOK SERIES
BY DEVON KINCH
PRAISE FOR PENNY
Kinch’s debut affirms the idea of moneymaking as a way to achieve praiseworthy goals-to cel-ebrate a relative’s birthday, for example. The appropriately named Penny has doll-like eyes, glossy black hair, designer boots, and a pink shoulder bag–think Emily the Not-so-Strange. When her grandmother Bunny waves off her offer of a birthday party (“There is no reason to spend money on a party for a little ol’ lady like me”), six-year-old Penny sets up a store, the “Small Mall,” to sell Bunny’s unwanted attic junk so she can throw her a surprise party. Kinch provides readers with plenty of chat about money and where it comes from (“Bunny owns this yellow building from top to bottom. She… rents out three tidy apartments to neighbors”), polished spreads that include spots crammed with hats, shoes, and other consumer treats; and the occasional moral lesson (“This is not my money–it belongs to Bunny”). This is an honest acknowledgment of the centrality of money in the lives of many young girls, and an attempt to tame and direct it. Ages 4-8. (Dec.)
The New York Times
The options for finding additional — or any — income can be difficult whether you are 6 or 66. But, of course, Penny figures out a way. (If you have ever held a garage sale or sold some superfluous items on eBay, you’ll instantly understand the solution.) And the takeaway message that even 6-year-olds will understand is that if you want something — like having a birthday party for Grandma — you need to figure out a way to pay the bill. ….Ms. Kinch might put it, if you live within your means — and save for something you really want — you can live (financially) happily ever after.
When Penny and her pal Iggy, a pig, learn that Doodle’s Animal Farm is in need of donations, they decide to help. A lemonade stand doesn’t seem a grand enough fund-raiser, so Penny, along with friends Emma and Maggie, decides to host a “drive-in” movie-theater night (more like a skate- and bike-in), with Iggy manning the popcorn stand. At the end of the benefit, Iggy, acting like quite the piggy, decides to pocket some of the proceeds. This leveled reader features appealing characters, widely spaced type, and an easy-to-follow plot, with enough twists to keep emergent readers interested. The most unique aspect, however, is the art—it has a distinctly tween vibe, with slightly emo-girl Penny and a “Small Mall,” filled with clothes, bold colors, and knickknacks that should meet a seven-year-old girl’s approval. (Alas, the Small Mall, the subject of a previous title, is not explained here.) Fans can check out Pretty Penny Sets Up Shop (2010) and Pretty Penny Cleans Up (2012), both of which also involve saving your “pennies” for an important cause.
CBS Money Watch
Most parents will agree it’s tough to teach young kids about money. I’ve tried many times to convey financial lessons to my older daughter but she usually tunes me out after a few moments. But then I received a promotional copy of a new children’s book, Pretty Penny Sets Up Shop, and found the storyline genuinely piqued my child’s curiosity about dollars and cents. At first we just talked about the book’s cute pets — a lazy pig named Iggy and a sneaky cat Bo — but then one evening it dawned on my little girl that this story is about a rummage sale. Completely out of the blue, my daughter wanted to know how to read price tags and why some items at a store cost more than others. She even asked how to count coins and bills, something I‘ve been trying to explain to her for ages. It turns out that the discussion we had is exactly what Devon Kinch, the author, was trying to accomplish with her tale.
School Library Journal
The book [Pretty Penny Makes Ends Meet] is unashamedly agenda-driven for a good cause: helping children develop a healthy relationship with money. The jewelry-making and shopping aspects may well serve as hooks, especially for girls, and Penny's empowered competence will be attractive to any child. Readers will come away with a clear understanding of how they can earn money. The importance of the topic and the dearth of materials addressing it make this a useful addition for most libraries.