The Secret Life of Money: A Kid's Guide to Cash by K. Vermond
*Vermond, Kira. The Secret Life of Money: A Kid's Guide to Cash. Toronto: Owlkids, 2012. Print.
Kira Vermond has extensive experience writing about finances and business for Canadian banks, The National Post, CBC, Today's Parent and especially The Globe and Mail. She effectively shares the basics of all things money with children between the ages of 9 and 13.
While this book is clearly written for North Americans in general, Vermond does add plenty of Canadian perspective, something fairly unique for this topic in this age group. There is plenty of money trivia to keep some kids happy while the more in-depth material and differing perspectives offered will provide a challenge for those who need it. Varied interests will also be satisfied with formats that include fun charts, text boxes, comics, a glossary, as well as more text-heavy content. Clear headings and subheadings set off by different fonts and highlighting allow the reader to quickly spot information of interest, as does the inclusion of an index. None of this comes off as overly busy: plenty of white space helps to keep the layout clean. Chapters are organized based on: the very basics of what money is, work and business, investing, economics and social issues, and social responsibility. Discussions include, for instance: child labour, poverty, consumerism (and the basic psychology behind it), over-consumption, and the negative economic consequences of excluding girls from education. Additionally, information on credit card scams, marketing tactics, and plenty of tips for kids provide a practical overview of the subject matter.
Clayton Hamner's illustrations which are simple, fun, and cartoonish (almost doodles) are sometimes used just for entertainment purposes and to break up the text in appropriate spots. Many, however, do enhance the text, and their simplicity along with a limited colour palette keep them from being distracting. This colour scheme and drawing style minimalism does have a significant drawback though; every person depicted is literally "white" skinned and the features tend toward Caucasian, and therefore the illustrations appear to lack diversity. Vermond's text is generally neutral in this regard, although she does include information from experts who are, based on their names, likely visible minorities.
One problem with this book is the lack of references. Owlkids, the publishers, are particularly well-known for their magazines, a format which does not normally have references: perhaps therein lies the problem.
Overall, however, this would be an excellent addition to a library, as it conveys important and practical information in an appropriate manner, to the target age group. Families should consider reading this book together as it has the potential to spark valuable discussion between parents and children.
Recommended, 3 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Kirsten Morozov
* previously reviewed in Volume 2, Number 1 (2012)
Kirsten Morozov is a teacher-librarian/learning specialist at Stratford Hall IB World School in Vancouver, B.C. and has taught students from grades K-12. She enjoys sharing a love of reading, and is working to become more widely read so that she can better recommend books to a variety of children and young adults.