Full of Beans (hardcover)
by Jennifer L. Holm
AR level 3.8, 4 points
Full of Beans is Jennifer L. Holm’s latest novel. I wasn’t sure if it would be a graphic novel since she co-wrote Sunny Side Up, or a novel like The 14th Goldfish. It is more like the latter. I was also happy to see that there’s a novel I haven’t heard of, called Turtle in Paradise, which earned a Newbery Honor. Sometimes books get past me. It seems like a prequel since the main character is a cousin of Beans, the main character of Full of Beans. I’ll have to look into it!
Beans is a boy living in Key West on a small island that has basically gone bankrupt during the Great Depression (historical fiction). He and his brother find ways to earn money, like collecting cans, babysitting, and sometimes doing things that aren’t quite legal, and which Beans regrets. When New Dealers sent by Roosevelt start beautifying the island for tourist season, Beans and his friends aren’t all that happy with the changes, but they soon start pitching in, seeing the benefits of the plan. Beans also makes some new friends and changes his mind about people he already knew.
What I like about this book is that it is historical fiction and readers can learn a bit about history without having to read a text book or heavy historical fiction novel. Beans is a funny kid who gets into sticky situations, but we learn about what it was like during the time of the Great Depression through the eyes of a kid, which are pretty clear and insightful. Beans shows us the struggles of living during that time, as well as what it was like to be a kid.
What I don’t like about this book is that it is really easy reading. It is likely in the fourth grade range, which is great for students looking for a read they can easily comprehend, but it’s tough for me as a more mature reader, because I’m looking for more depth to characters and situations. That can be a plus for many readers, and The 14th Goldfish has been quite popular in my class, so I anticipate this being the same.
I also have to say that Jennifer Holm is such a nice woman. She’s active on Twitter, and after meeting her in person, I feel like I have more of a connection with her books.
Book 8 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)