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Welcome to the Horn Book's Family Reading blog, a place devoted to offering children's book recommendations and advice about the whats and whens and whos and hows of sharing books in the home. Find us on Twitter @HornBook and on Facebook at

When life gives you The Lemonade War

What do you do when life (or your second-grade teacher*) gives you Jacqueline Davies’s The Lemonade War? If you don’t have lemonade, you grab an open bottle of grape juice from the fridge and half-empty bag of Goldfish crackers from the cupboard and wait for the customers to line up.

To my surprise, they did! Thanks to the kindness of a few neighbors, these two entrepreneurs sold out of their initial inventory and raided the kitchen a second time. Flush with $8.50, they’re planning more “snack sales” for the summer, so I think we need to re-read the part where the sibling main characters, Jessie and Evan, pay their mom back for their supplies. (And Officer Ken, who in the novel shuts down older brother Evan’s efforts to expand his selling territory, would probably have some thoughts about health codes.)

“Only 50¢!!
Goldfish and juice”

This small-business exercise taught me something, too, and it’s an invaluable lesson just in time for summer break. My older son, who is currently finishing third grade, received The Lemonade War at the end of last year. He wasn’t interested in reading it then, and the book has been sitting in his bookcase all year. Last week, however, he pulled it out and started reading it — On His Own. He was probably drawn in by the allure of money-making projects, but the story’s honest depiction of sibling rivalry had to have struck a chord (don’t be fooled by the moment of detente above). And I wonder if he identified with Evan’s struggles with schoolwork and Jessie’s with decoding interpersonal relations.

Summer Reading 2018I don’t know, but what I do know is he came to the book on his own terms, without my getting in the way. I worry about too much screen-time (and will continue to) and about how our fights over video games, TV, etc., are a losing battle (on my part). But maybe things aren’t as grim as my future-tripping has me believing. So this summer, while I read Playstation Nation: Protect Your Child from Video Game Addiction and Calmer Easier Happier Screen Time, my kids can…make their own choices. At some point, we’ll head over to the library, the Horn Book’s 2018 Summer Reading list in hand (okay, I can’t completely stay out of the way), and see what looks good.


*Praise to teachers, who are in the reading trenches alongside us.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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