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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
“Can I have...,” little Stevie continually whined as he rode the grocery cart while his Mommy did the shopping. “No Sweetie,” she repeatedly answered. Stevie wasn’t about to give up. He wanted to know why she could buy what she wanted and he couldn’t. It’s all about finances and balancing the budget and making sure the family has what’s important: food and a warm house to live in, as opposed to another “purple dino”, chewing gum, or “a brown chocolate bar.” Stevie had to learn that what he earned and was saving in his piggy bank at home was for his choice purchases, while Mommy and Daddy had to make sure they had enough money for the essentials. And, there were others less fortunate to care for, like the homeless man sitting outside the store. Stevie with his questions has a lot to think about, and, realizing he’s lucky to have what he does, he makes a compassionate choice to help someone less fortunate.
C.M. Harris’s picture book story, A Penny In My Pocket, is a clever look at money, financing, and making hard decisions on what is more important to purchase. It’s also a compassionate look at charity and caring for those less fortunate. Money issues are difficult for young people to grasp, especially if they live in a home where they have just about everything they need and more. The author has carefully approached this issue by taking young Stevie on a shopping excursion with his Mommy and fielding his questions in the same way the young reader might challenge their parents. Stevie’s Mommy is careful how she answers him, making him think deeply about the consequences of his money-spending decisions. Beautifully illustrated and told with care and compassion, this is a story that will both warm hearts and educate young readers to value their money and to consider helping those less fortunate.