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The Kids Guide to Money Cent$

by Keltie Thomas, Stephen MacEachern, illus.

Kids grow up so fast. And Keltie Thomas, former editor of OWL magazine, has devised another way to nudge them along with a straightforward guide that hopes to have “fixed income investment” rolling off kids’ tongues in no time.

The book follows three plucky youngsters researching a class project about money. They investigate how to score great deals, prioritize purchases, and use money to help others. More ambitiously, the guide also advises on items that many adults can’t grasp, including how to manage a credit card, start a small business, and play the stock market.

The Kids Guide to Money Cent$ was written for eight- to 12-year-olds, and Stephen MacEachern’s colourful, comic strip-style illustrations are well suited to that age group. But much of the content, quite lengthy and text-heavy, could have been adapted from information published by any major financial institution. How many eight-year-olds want to read about budgets when the literary alternatives involve pirates and wizards?

While an argument can be made for encouraging responsible money management, it’s difficult to picture an 11- year-old Conrad Black charging off to check his stock portfolio. Kids are meant to daydream in pajamas, consuming the kind of cereal that guarantees future dental work. Refreshingly, they don’t have the patience, interest, or avarice to comprehend the intricacies of the market economy.

The book does quite well explaining a number of basic concepts, including inflation, cost of living, and comparison shopping. Thomas’s text is simple, sensible, and important. But it’s also about financial planning. The 56-page text wouldn’t hold the interest of most twenty-somethings, let alone a group of people who are not allowed out after dark. While older kids do need to be eased into fiscal responsibility, there’s unlikely a spoonful of sugar sweet enough to help this medicine go down.