Four friends -- Josh, Maria, Ruth and Andy -- play on the same baseball team and really want to attend baseball camp at the end of summer. The problem is they don't have the money to go. Josh's grandpa, a farmer and former Red Sox player, agrees to help them find ways to earn the money they need if they will let him teach them what God says about handling money. They're learning adventure lasts the summer and includes many adventures: building a new fence, the birth of new pigs, learning to take care of horses, and more.
Grandpa's lessons are well organized and founded on the Bible. He teaches the kids (and readers) about:
- Why we should care what God says about money
- What is a steward?
- Income vs. Expense
- Debt, Credit and Interest
- Budgeting: making a plan for giving, spending and saving
- Honesty and Restitution
- The importance of wise counsel
Andy Davenport served as illustrator. His full-color paintings offer realistic images throughout the book. Some are small accents to the text while others fill entire pages.
What I Like: I like the format of this. It feels less like "homework" and more like an interactive chapter book. I like that it offers real-life situations kids can relate to and solid advice. (My favorite piece of advice: "Don't confuse 'shopping' with 'fun'." Yes, shopping can be fun, but they are not synonymous terms.) I like that the homework sections uses open-ended questions. Rather than allowing simple yes or no answers, these force the kids to really think through the lesson and their responses to it. I like the illustrations and the writing, all very well done.
My favorite part, though, is the consistent biblical foundation. The authors start with God and don't let up! They've peppered the book with Scripture (both quotes and references for readers to look up) without sounding "preachy." It's done in a very matter-of-fact way that I truly appreciate.
What I Dislike: The characters didn't always react in realistic ways. Their stories seemed a bit too perfect in some spots. For example, when a piglet isn't where they expect, Grandpa weeps. He doesn't search for it until after he cries with the kids and then prays. After searching the fields and discussing all the horrible things that could have happened, they eventually find the missing piglet safe in a different corner of the barn. I can see this reaction from a child, but grown men, especially farmers familiar with animals, should know to do a little investigating before having an emotional collapse.
Overall Rating: Even with the character inconsistencies, this book is Excellent.
Age Appeal: 8-12, but kids as young as 5 will enjoy listening to the story portions of the book.
Publisher Info: Moody Publishers, 2003; ISBN: 0802431542; Paperback; $14.99
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Special Info: A teacher's guide is also available to accompany this workbook. Together they make a great curriculum for parents, homeschoolers, Sunday School or Christian school teachers.