I never had a lemonade stand as a kid. (I know, I know, yesterday I was all complain-y about missing out on crafting during my childhood years. I promise I’m not going to moan about lemonade stands now). Kids who live at the end of long dirt roads in the country do not have lemonade stands. They also do not go hang out in their neighbour’s tree house after school, or get pizza delivery, or have more than one kid show up for trick-or-treating on Halloween. Country kids, like me, have other things – wonderful things like fireflies and their own ponds and bonfires and howling coyotes. But no lemonade stands. As it happens, this has not affected my ability to make prize-winning homemade lemonade. Because I never had the chance to run a lemonade stand as a child, I am completely helpless at resisting the sweet cries of, “Would you like some lemonade?” from the kids on my city street who run stands all through the summer. I am a guaranteed customer, even though their lemonade comes from a can and mine is “from scratch.”
Lemonade in Winter, by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, follows Pauline and John-John, a bold sister and brother team, when they decide to have a lemonade stand in the middle of winter on a day when “a mean wind blows” and “icicles hang from the windowsills.” Their parents cannot dissuade them, indeed, nothing does. They hunt down all the loose change around their house, gather the ingredients from the corner store, make their drinks, and go out into the cold. Everyone thinks they’re crazy, but as it turns out, this doesn’t stop people in the neighborhood from stopping by. Throughout the story, Pauline tries to teach her little brother a thing or two about how money – and business – works. They bring in entertainment and decorations and decide to have a sale to inspire customers. In the end, they don’t make their money back, but they’ve learned a thing or two about making plans and making their own fun, seeing them through, and working together.
The sibling dynamic is right on. Pauline is a little bit bossy, but well-meaning, with her “let me show you how to do this John-John” attitude. John-John goes along for the ride with all the enthusiasm you could expect from a little brother, and comes up with good ideas of his own. Lessons about how money works, and the basics of a shopping transaction get woven into the story with subtlety. The last page of the book explains the coins and offers tips on how to remember what is what (American currency). It’s lovely to see Jenkins capture how for kids, a big idea or goal, is often something small. She shows kids how to break down a goal into stages and make it happen. Of course it’s nice to see home made fun from ordinary family life being celebrated. Karas’s muted artwork, smudgy with snowflakes, soft and pale and frosty-looking, makes this winter day and cozy community, come vividly to life. Read about his artistic process for the book here.
A great read for aspiring entrepreneurs and big dreamers, or for when the kids cry bored.
Lemonade in Winter is published by Schwartz and Wade.