Full of Beans, by Jennifer Holm, for MMGM
I was fortunate enough to win my copy of Full of Beans from Joanne Fritz–many thanks, again!–and found this story to be delightful and satisfying in unexpected ways. Full of Beans is the tale of Beans Curry, who has big plans for himself and his friends that will see them comfortably through the lean times of the Great Depression. The one catch? His plans don’t seem to be working out so well.
However misfires, sabotage-by-gluttony, and the meddling of his arch enemy won’t keep Beans down for long. And that’s the first thing I loved about this book–the spunk and ingenuity Beans demonstrates. It may seem an obvious connection, but it occurred to me while reading this story that the ‘Greatest Generation,’ as the folk who saw the US through WWII are often called, were children of and came of age during the Great Depression. Is it too much of a stretch to think the challenges they faced as part of their daily life were how they learned the ingenuity, fortitude, and courage they became known for later? I don’t think so, and one of the first things I loved about this book was Beans determination and grit.
The second thing was definitely his attitude. Now, I should warn you that he’s…not what you’d call angelic. He has no quibbles over lying (even to his beloved mother) when he feels the need, because he feels that adults are the biggest liars around…and he’s got a point, since the adults in his life do have a habit of lying to him. Many times it’s because they want to spare him worry, but even then Beans sees through them. And then there are the adults who are happy to make some shady arrangements with Beans and lie about the legality of what they’re doing. Of course, Beans is no fool and sees through that, too, but even with his streets savvy and ingenuity, it’s impossible that he’ll land on his feet every time.
Even scarier is the question of what happens if he lands on his feet…and then feels really, really bad about it? This is the question that we spend a good portion of the novel considering, and prompts Beans to take a second look at several particulars and pieces in his life, and his priorities.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I can definitely recommend this one, and promise that you’ll soak up this bit of history without ever noticing the ‘pill’ going down, as it’s more a street-kid-caper that happens to be set in a colorful part of the Florida Keys, when they’re in the midst of the Great Depression. You’ll love it. 😀
Now, let’s hear what Apricot-kitty has to say:
“What was with those names? Beans? Peas? Curry? Pudding? Pork chop? Yes, okay, the story was delightful and I loved the way Beans got his gang all set up in the end, but please tell me, because I’ve heard whispers about gingerbread houses and that sort of funny business…when the parents named their children were they planning to eat them?
Ha! Okay, so yes, the names in the book are a little odd. In addition to those listed above, we have Too bad, Kermit, a dog named Termite, and you should also know that ‘Peas’ is actually Beans. However, I’m quite positive that no children were ever in any danger, and if food was on people’s minds when the passed out nicknames, can you really blame them?
And on that note–I also really loved a subtle impact of Full of Beans, which was that it makes being thankful for small and simple things extremely easy! I recommend it to any readers who want to take a fresh look at their lives and this month’s focus on gratitude.
For more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday reviews, interviews, giveaways and spotlights, stop by Shannon Messenger’s blog, and wish her happy book touring and congrats on her launch of Lodestar while you’re there!