Entrepreneur

The Lemonade War (Book Review)

The Lemonade War

A couple of weeks ago, the whole family was at the local church fair, when my oldest son saw a book – The Lemonade War. He snatched it and said, “I’m getting this for my brother.” My kids often read similar books – they are 15 months apart in age. Usually, their love of books revolves around graphic novels such as Captain Underpants, Dogman, or Wimpy Kid. This was different. I HAD to figure out what it was. For 75 cents we picked up three books in the Lemonade War series with The Lemonade War being the first book (obviously).

I would soon find out that it was part of the third-grade curriculum at school. Author Jacqueline Davies somehow wrote about our family 15 years ago. Here’s her brief video trailer for the book (we’ll cover a lot more than what’s in this video):


The Lemonade War trailer from Jacqueline Davies on Vimeo.

Lemonade War Plot Summary

The Lemonade War is a story of sibling rivalry and entrepreneurial spirit. (You knew it had to be about money and business to be featured on Kid Wealth, right?) Ten-year-old Evan Treski is having a bad summer ever since he found out his younger sister, Jessie was going to skip a grade. That would put her in Evan’s class. The two siblings are 14 months apart and Evan doesn’t want to share his fourth grade with his little sister. Jessie is a math wiz and Evan can hear it now, “Evan, why can’t you do math like your little sister?”

So that’s why my oldest son, entering the fourth grade, wanted his brother to read it. They both get great grades, but there are some things that our youngest is just a natural at. It drives his older brother batty. Just like Jessie in the book, he’s just trying to live his life and do his best. Fortunately, they’ll be in separate grades, so we don’t have the problem that Evan and Jessie do.

This sibling rivalry leads the Lemonade War characters to make a bet. The person who sells the most lemonade in 5 days gets the other person’s money. The book’s fourteen chapters alternate between the two characters’ perspectives. In the battle of the lemonade stands will Jessie’s math-smart skills win? Or will Evan’s people-smart skills make him the Lemonade King?

Jessie has savvy marketing tips, while Evan has to resort to diagrams to solve math problems that Jessie could do in her head. Evan’s people skills help him get to a nearly insurmountable lead. Jessie creates a franchise model to quickly close the gap. The different approaches to the siblings’ lemonade sales make it a fun read.

The chapters start with definitions of business terms. They are named Slump, Breakup, Joint Venture, Partnership, Competition, Underselling, Location/Location/Location, Going Global, Negotiation, Malicious Mischief, A Total Loss, Waiting Period, Crisis Management, and Reconciliation. The chapters aren’t designed to teach you about the business term. It’s a fictional book that’s mostly about sibling rivalry, so it would be up to the parent or teacher to reinforce the concepts. There is The Lemonade War Teacher’s Guide, but it doesn’t focus very well on the business topics.

Perhaps the best money lessons come at the end of the book:

Ten Tips for Turning Lemons into Loot

Ironically, the kids never actually used real lemons, just cans of lemonade. Nonetheless, together they learned these ten business lessons:

  1. Location – It all starts with where you put your lemonade stand.
  2. Advertising – Make sure your lemons stand out.
  3. Underselling – Cheap! Cheaper! Cheapest lemons in town!
  4. Goodwill – How to make people love your lemons.
  5. Value-added – Giving your lemons that something extra.
  6. Business Regulations – Be sure you know your local lemon laws.
  7. Profit Margins – How to calculate the limits on your lemons.
  8. Franchises – How thirteen lemons can earn more than one.
  9. Going Mobile – Take your lemons on the road.
  10. Employee Appreciation – Don’t be a sour boss – always say thank you to your workers.

The book ends with one loose thread that isn’t resolved. That serves as the cliff hanger for the next book in the series, The Lemonade Crime. The rest of the series is The Bell Bandit, The Candy Smash, The Magic Trap, The Bridge Battle (pre-order). I’ve only read The Lemonade War so far, but in reading reviews of the other books it doesn’t seem like they help kids develop money skills. There are other things to learn in the other books, and as long as my kids are reading, I consider that a win.

Overall, the best thing about this book is that it’s an enjoyable read and the topic is perfect for the start of summer vacation. It didn’t even occur to my 9-year-old to mention it to me as a “money book” such as American Girl’s Smart Guide to Money. It’s a subtle way to sneak some extra business lessons. Add The Lemonade War to your book collection today.

The Lemonade War’s Official Book Description and Awards

I hope my review was helpful to you in figuring out if The Lemonade War is right for you or your kid. Sometimes, I find that the author’s back-cover blurb is useful.

For a full hour, he poured lemonade. The world is a thirsty place, he thought as he nearly emptied his fourth pitcher of the day. And I am the Lemonade King.

Fourth-grader Evan Treski is people-smart. He’s good at talking with people, even grownups. His younger sister, Jessie, on the other hand, is math-smart, but not especially good with people. She knows that feelings are her weakest subject. So when their lemonade war begins, there is no telling who will win – or even if their fight will ever end. Brimming with savvy marketing tips for making money at any business, definitions of business terms, charts, diagrams, and even math problems, this fresh, funny, emotionally charged novel subtly explores how arguments can escalate beyond anyone’s intent.

Awards 2009 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award, 2007 New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, North Carolina Children’s Book Award 2011, 2011 Nutmeg Award (Connecticut) Check out www.lemonadewar.com for more information on The Lemonade War Series, including sequels The Lemonade Crime, The Bell Bandit, and The Candy Smash.

How Can Kids Make Money?

At some point, your kid will want to make money. They want some kind of toy and realize that they need money for that toy. Your kid will try the easy way out and ask you to buy it. Maybe they’ll try to annoy you until you cave and buy it.

Hopefully, you can redirect them and explain that they can earn the toy if they make money to buy it. When kids learn how to make money it opens a lot of doors. Suddenly, they can save and invest in a Kid Roth IRA and build a million-dollar retirement. The kids will be focused on toys, so parents, you’ll have to match their income, put it aside, and invest it for them.

Younger Kids Making Money

Kids Make Money

I believe that kids should do chores for the good of the family, not for money. Everyone in the family needs to work together and pitch in. I also believe that you should give kids an allowance. They need to learn how to make money mistakes. I feel it is very important not to tie the allowance to chores. You don’t want to give your kid the power to quit chores by choosing to give up their allowance.

With younger kids, a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant just isn’t an option. If they are really young, the best way for kids to make extra money is at home doing extra chores. The difficulty I have is consistently finding chores that they can do which aren’t part of their normal responsibilities. My 8-year-old is tremendous at building stuff, so he puts together anything we buy with “assembly required.” I supervise and sometimes join in, but he can do many projects by himself.

Making Money for Tweens and Teens

When the kids get older, they can do neighborhood chores for extra cash. My kids are too young for this now but I recently started following the local community using the Nextdoor App. I think I could look to advertise for my kids. The app may have a minimum age requirement, so it is probably necessary to have parents’ permission or assistance anyway.

Babysitting

Babysitting is a time-tested teen job. We’ve started to get some younger babies on our street – this is something I’ll revisit in about five years. My kids will be in the 8th grade and those other kids will be 5 or 6.

Pet Sitting & Dog Walking

I run a dog boarding service from our house using Rover.com. When the kids are older, I wouldn’t mind moving more of the responsibility and payment to them. It’s not terribly complicated, especially if you’ve lived with dogs your whole life as they have.

Yard Sale

We really need to host a yard sale this summer. It’s not about making money. I find that yard sales are more about responsibly decluttering and aren’t big money makers. (Maybe my stuff isn’t so great.) Yard sales are a great place for kids to set up a lemonade stand and sell baked goods.

Cooking and Selling at a Farmer’s Market

A bake sale can certainly make money, but my wife and kids are planning to step it up a notch. My 9-year-old loves to cook, but he’s taken an especially big interest in making dog biscuits. I showed him Ryans Barkery from Shark Tank and the first step is duplicating that at the local level. My wife had some plans to make cookies and brownies that they could sell together.

Playing Video Games on Twitch

This is a little like YouTube as one of the ways kids make money. The big money is made by Ryan’s World, but it’s a crowded space. Any good entrepreneur knows that a good barrier to entry is necessary to keep competition down. If it were easy to make money playing video games every kid would be rich, right?

Your Dad’s Blog

Wait, not every dad has a blog? It’s just me?!?!

Other Ideas

Kids can always wash cars, mow lawns or tutor younger neighborhood kids in subjects they can use a little extra help with.

Get Started Making Money

The most important thing is to get started trying something. It’s okay if it’s not perfect. It’s fine to make some mistakes and learn along the way. No one starts off as an expert, they reiterate and try to improve a little each time.

This article is a perfect example of that. The topic of kids making money is so big there are entire entrepreneur courses such as The Simple Startup. I’m not going to wait for this article to be perfect to publish. I’ll publish it now and revisit, revise, and republish in the future.

Three Kid-Motivating Business-Starting Ideas

Kid Start Business Ideas

Have your kids ever come to you and said, “I want to buy a Nintendo Switch?” It may not be a Nintendo Switch, but it could be an Xbox, a new bike, or even a bunch of Roblox Robux. Sometimes an allowance isn’t enough. When kids want expensive things, this is a good time to get them interested in starting a business.

My kids are busy with every after-school activity under the sun. We haven’t jumped into starting a business yet. They are only 8 and 9 so we’ve got some time. This summer they have several day camps, but we have one week where none of the camps worked out. For that week, I’ll likely be doing some homeschooling, which will include some financial literacy and perhaps planning to start a business.

If you are looking to do the same, here are some ideas to get your kid motivated to start a business.

Bonus Idea: A couple of weeks I shared a business idea of making can tab bracelets. I got some feedback that it is a great idea.

Inspire a Kid Entrepreneur this Earth Day

Yes, today is Earth Day. I don’t know about your kids’ school, but my kids’ school puts a lot of focus on the environment. Maybe it’s just being a good citizen, but I think some of it is because Rhode Island is the Ocean State and we see all the trash that gets washed up on our beaches.

When COVID shut down schools in spring of 2020, I “taught” Earth Day by introducing them to a classic show from my youth, Captain Planet. (Sorry, it seems no streaming service includes it. If you choose to buy it from that link, Kid Wealth may earn a commission.) We got through four episodes, which was enough television for a homeschool day. While I do encourage teaching kids with television, sometimes you need something more “hands-on.”

Kid Entrepreneur Earth Day

What if you could do something for the environment and make money at the same time? I was at a yard sale with my son and this can tab bracelet caught my attention. It was mixed in with a bunch of odds and ends. It was only a quarter, but I would have easily paid a couple of dollars. Of course, I had to have it. My son wore it religiously, but after a few weeks he moved on to something else. I guess he’s a typical kid, right?

We bring it out every Earth Day because it sparks a conversation about smart recycling. However, this Earth Day, I thought, “What if we made them and sold them?” Wouldn’t that be a good business? The cost of goods (can tabs and string) is very, very close to zero. Hopefully, you have access to a bunch of can tabs – recycling them is the point of Earth Day. We don’t have a bunch of them, so we’d have to buy them. If you already have can tabs, the biggest cost is the “Inspire” tag in the picture. You can buy 80 different motivational tags on Amazon for $11 – about 15 cents each. My 9-year-old says that his friends would probably pay $3 to $5 for one. That’s a profit of more than $2.50 and $4.50 for each sale.

Before you can legitimately consider this business, you’d have to know how to make these can tab bracelets. Fortunately, the internet has you covered. Here’s an Instructable on making can tab bracelets.

There are two remaining things to consider. The kid has to put in the time and sweat equity to make the bracelets. Additionally, the child has to come up with a marketing and selling plan. It sounds easy, but it wouldn’t be right to sell at school – we don’t want to distract from learning. Maybe it’s possible to sell at soccer or Little League games? You might have to check with the league and the rules on that.

Don’t Forget to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Ever since we watched the Curious George movie, I’ve been hooked on Jack Johnson music. It’s great for kids because there are no cuss words and the songs usually have an uplifting message. Jack Johnson is a champion of the environment. Check out this sweet video of him singing his song “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” with some children. It’s not only great for the environment, but it helps save money too: