From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up–Written in a light, somewhat jocular tone and sprinkled with amusing but eye-opening and conversation-starting quotes from 12-, 13-,and 14-year-olds, this book is sure to hold readers' attention. The content includes how you get money, via allowances and jobs, and notes the difference between cash-only and paychecks. Tracking typical teen expenditures, both long-term and short, is juxtaposed against keeping money in checking, savings, and money-market accounts. Parents' cash flow, adult salaries, and costs of goods such as minivans are all touched upon. As the young people's quotes make clear, they have both funny and inaccurate understandings in this area. The concepts are presented simply enough for the middle school crowd, but are just as important for older teens, especially when it comes to a breakdown of deductions on a paycheck and thinking about investing for college savings. There is a section on smart shopping and credit cards. Fascinating facts include the history of the development of money from cows to cowrie shells to coins and paper, as well as such tidbits as the fact that germs in mucus can live on bills from 10 to 17 days. Chatzky's presentation is engaging, with a lengthy glossary at the back and all the words highlighted throughout the text. Cartoons appear on almost every page, adding humor and some additional material. Critical information is provided to keep young people from being taken advantage of financially, such as how to avoiding overdraft fees on a checking account. Overall, the healthy financial attitude of only-spend-what-you-have is promoted throughout the book.Meredith Toumayan, The Governor's Academy, Byfield, MA
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Personal-finance specialist Chatzky’s first book for youth offers a mélange of financial information that will encourage young people to develop financial independence, self-reliance, and responsibility. The casual, chatty prose, peppered with trivia and quizzes, accessibly conveys economic concepts such as inflation, stock market terms, and investment options. Also included is a “wants and needs” chart to support saving goals, as well as suggestions for raising allowances and researching charities. The target readership is sometimes unclear; information on filing taxes electronically, for example, may lack resonance for the younger end of the book’s audience. Additionally, statistics are sometimes unsourced, as in charts citing average job wages. Chatzky does offer job ideas that move beyond babysitting into more contemporary notions, such as “iPod installer,” but specifics about how to actually apply for a job or start a business are not included. Still, the inviting approach and sidebars with intriguing facts, such as how money carries germs, may pique kids’ interest in the topic. Appendixes include a brief history of money and how it’s made, a glossary, and Web resources. Grades 6-9. --Shelle Rosenfeld