Evan Treski is about to start fourth grade. Then the week before the year begins a letter comes in the mail. His summer is ruined! His school year is ruined! All because of his little sister, who is now going to be in his class. Well, she’s not that little. Only fourteen months younger. And he even likes her most of the time. But she’s so smart she got to skip third grade. He has so much trouble with math, and he’s the slowest reader in the class. Now everyone will know how much smarter Jessie is than him, and Jessie will know it, too.
Jessie Treski can’t figure out why her brother has been so weird ever since the letter came. Why wasn’t Evan as thrilled as she was? They always had fun at home. Now they’d have fun at school. And he’d help her make friends in fourth grade and figure out what all the girls were really saying. Girls could say so much with a look, with a smirk. Jessie just didn’t understand it. But Evan knew all about getting along with people. It was easy for him, and everyone liked him. Sometimes she wished she could figure things out so easily.
Such a simple misunderstanding between siblings suddenly turns into an armed conflict. Hurt feelings, shouted words, and the Lemonade War is on. Even though he’s no good at math, Evan wants to prove he can still outperform his kid sister. He’ll make more money selling lemonade than she will during the last five days of summer. And she wants to prove she’s not a baby.
For such a short read (173 pages of large type), the characters in this story are pretty well developed and they interact with each other in a very real way. Every kid with a sibling will resonate with the conflict immediately. But I wouldn’t call the quality of literature outstanding, because the greatest strength of this story isn’t really story at all. It’s the very fun way two siblings (and the audience) learn about math and economics and running a business. Yes, there’s a whole course of information in here, but it’s boiled down into an engaging, kid-friendly narrative. It really is fun to see the ways each kid comes up with to earn more money than the other. One business term (like “profit margin” and “negotiation”) is defined before each chapter and then cleverly woven into the story line. And the mess the kids get into keeps getting deeper and deeper. It really is fun, and teachers and parents would be wise to grab this one up and take advantage of the entertaining teaching opportunity.
The Lemonade War is appropriate for fourth graders and would be a wonderful read aloud.