Jennifer Holm has written another really appealing historical fiction novel based on her family history. While I don't normally have much luck getting students to read historical fiction, I think I could get them to read this since Beans is such a likeable, interesting character. I also loved Key West as a setting and watching it change for the better. Beans willingness to work to earn money to go to the movies and help out his mom is a major plot point that leads to conflict when Beans starts working for a bootlegger who asks him to set off fire alarms to help him transport contraband. The pay is good but the consequences are not and Beans is left trying to make up for his mistakes. The friendships as well as the other people Beans interacts with make the story an interesting one. Beans' little brother Kermit, his grandmother Nana Philly (the meanest woman in Key West), and his feud with Dot (a girl!) all play a role in the choices Beans makes and who he ends up deciding to be. Holm has written another winner with great characters, a fabulous setting, and an interesting plot.
This is a good continuation of Jennifer Holm's other book, "Turtle in Paradise". I was born and raised in Key West and she paints a very good picture of the way it was there during the depression. My Mom and Dad lived thru it and told me stories. Wonderful children's book , as are all of Jennifer Holm's works.
Does building resilience in kids mean they have to be able to handle everything by themselves? Or that they can weather the hard times, with their sense of self intact? I adore Jennifer Holm's newest novel Full of Beans precisely for the way that Beans struggles through hard times, learning about the consequences of his decisions, yet never losing his sense of humor or his loyalty to his family and friends.
"Full of Beans" is the story of a boy and his gang, and of triumph over adversity during the Great Depression.
Beans and his buddies are a bunch of barefoot, marble-toting boys in Key West Florida, here to help readers get a glimpse of what life was like in a dying, poverty-stricken town in the 1930s.
Our boy, Beans, is an enterprising young man, doing what he can to help out his family, his friends, and their families during one of the grimmest eras in American history. The story is true to it's time in every aspect: expressions, events, characters, all of it.
Among Beans's many money-making schemes is one that puts the whole town in jeopardy. Beans never confesses to this crime, but he more than makes up for it in his whole-hearted attempt to make things right again. Some might feel that, as this is a story for children, Beans should have 'fessed up, as we would want our children to do. But I love the way Holm chose to resolve the issue instead.
The story is set in real life situations in Key West as experienced by a fictional but realistic boy; how the town rose up from near-extinction to become the Key West we know today. It is rich with history that will be captivating for kids: How house fires were dealt with in those days, what people ate and did for entertainment (bollos and bolitos, for example), child movies stars, leprosy, rum runners, and many other true-to-life examples of the day. Holm gives us some rich supporting historical background at the end of the book. She is the author of three Newbery Honor-Award winning books. In my book, Holm deserves an award for this one as well.
"Full of Beans" gives the topics of family, loyalty, and kindness their due in a very kid-friendly way.