In this children’s picture book, forest animals learn to count the various coins left by the humans on the forest floor.
Each spring, the animals barter with each other for goods and services— bears trade with geese; beavers trade with crows, etc.—but no one knows what to do with the shiny round trash scattered here and there on the trails. For years, the squirrels have placed the trash in the hollow of an oak tree, but now the pile is so high, they want to know what to do with it.
Sir Oliver the owl comes to the rescue. He tells the animals that the objects are coins and teaches them the value of each as the animals learn to sort and count their finds. They then go to the country store where they can buy special treats for each of their furry and feathery friends.
The author attempts to teach children about the value of money, but the text is dense and convoluted. For example: “The rabbits were next to count their dimes… The brown bear drew a straight line for the dime currency. The dimes were placed on the dime line. The first rabbit picked up a coin and took a jump to the area on the dime line that was exactly under the 10 on the nickel line.”
Complicating matters further, the story often takes unnecessary detours, such as the overly involved, four-page discussion of what the animals might buy at the store.
The drawings of forest animals are cute; however, although the animals often hold coins, the pictures do little more than this to enhance the meaning of the text. Additionally, the large groups of animals feel repetitive from page to page.
Younger children will struggle mightily to understand the author’s complicated lesson. Revision with an eye to tightening the story and simplifying the discussion is necessary for the book to garner an audience.
Also available in hardcover and ebook