MAY 28:

  • Happy birthday Isabella Leitner (The Big Lie), Lynn Johnston (Farley Follows His Nose), and Debby Atwell (Barn).
  • In 1859, sixteen horses pull a carriage carrying Big Ben from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to the Palace of Westminster. Read B is For Big Ben: An England Alphabet by Pamela Edwards, illustrated by Melanie Rose, and Ben and the Big Balloon by Sue Graves and Helen Jackson.
  • San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge officially opens in 1937. Read Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting, illustrated by C. F. Payne.

This week we celebrated Memorial Day, a time to honor those who have defended us during wartime. But unofficially it also means the beginning of summer, a time to bring out the barbecue and plan for warmer days.

If you have any industrious children ages seven through twelve looking for some summer inspiration, you might want to hand them a copy of a book published in 2007 and on its way to classic status: Jacqueline Davies’s The Lemonade War.

At the end of summer vacation, Evan and his younger sister Jessie become rivals to see who can sell more than a hundred dollar’s worth of lemonade before school starts. Because Jessie has just skipped a grade, Evan learns that he will be in the same fourth grade class as his smart, sassy younger sister. Hence it fuels his sense of competition with her. Both go about their plans to earn money in radically different ways. A plotter, schemer, and math expert, Jessie calculates how much lemonade, at how high of cost, she will need to win. She even figures out ways to get others involved with lemonade franchises.

In this book told from alternating points of view, Evan uses his personal charm to entice friends into the project, getting donations of lemonade. He depends less on strategy and more on inspired intuition—taking his stand into the town where the most customers can be found. But then things begin to get ugly—Jessie sabotages some of his lemonade; he steals some of her money.

In the end the two come together again and manage to win a prize by outlining their summer lemonade schemes. I have a fondness for books showing children engaging in meaningful work, learning the ways of business, and managing money. We don’t have as much fiction as we should on this topic. The Lemonade War appeals not only with its focus on the children’s business model, but also explores sibling relationships. And it raises questions about the ethics of competition, revealing the dark side when it becomes destructive.

So logically does Jacqueline Davies outline the details of a successful lemonade stand that it makes me want to set up one this Memorial Day weekend. It appears that you can even make more money on lemonade than writing! Who knew? But if I don’t, here is a virtual glass of sweet lemonade to all my readers—I hope you are having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

Here’s a section from The Lemonade War:

Jessie didn’t get it. She just didn’t get it.

What was Evan’s problem?

He’d been acting like a weirdo for two days now. And it was two days ago that the letter had arrived. But why would he be so upset about that letter?

This is a puzzle, Jessie told herself. And I’m good at puzzles. But it was a puzzle about feelings, and Jessie knew that feelings were her weakest subject.


Originally posted May 28, 2012. Updated for .

Tags: Family, Food
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The Lemonade War


  1. Susan Gilbert says:

    we just had the author at our school. The kids and teachers loved her and her books (two sequels.)

  2. G. Perry says:

    One happy memory I have is the real lemonade my aunt made, and on the rare occasion I drink it, I thought it was amazing. (She used a a lot of lemons)

    However, as an adult watching my aunt make lemonade, I was appalled at how much sugar she put in. It WAS a great treat though.

    I also like the idea of children involved in learning about money and business. In fact, it gives me a new idea about something I’m working on.

    I’ll be reading this book ASAP.

    P.S. Myself and one lady author I know, understand all too well that there can also be terrible war for some, just growing up.

    Here’s to all good defenders great, and small.

  3. waterconfidence says:

    I came upon your website today after following links for Paddle to the Sea after returning from the General Clinton Canoe Regatta (the longest single day canoe race: 70 miles from Cooperstown, NY to Bainbridge, NY).

    I am thrilled to find this gem. As a high school teacher, I find that some of life’s most important lessons need to be revisited through the eyes of beautiful storytelling in childhood books.

    Graduates truly connect with these lessons and adults remind themselves of their current importance.

    Thank you. I look forward to following your blog.

  4. Anita says:

    Thanks for everyone’s comments. It was nice to spend Memorial Day with you in cyberspace.

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