lucky beans

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Marshall is sick of the beans his African-American family often eats during the Great Depression. His father is out of work, and relatives are staying at their house. One day Marshall sees a huge jar of beans in the window of the furniture store. The person who guesses the number of beans in the jar will win a sewing machine! Marshall knows his mother could use the machine to earn money for the family.

First, Marshall must counter racism: a white girl tells him that only whites are eligible to win. Instead of believing her, Marshall asks the storekeeper, who tells Marshall that anyone can win.

Marshall’s mother shows him  how to figure out the number of pints in a quart. Marshall remembers what his teacher taught about estimation. With these tips, Marshall and his family come up with an estimate of the number of beans in the jar, and the family ends up winning the sewing machine. There is only one problem: they win the jar of beans too!

This book depicts a boy who learns from the women in his life. The story is based on truth: the author’s grandmother really did win a sewing machine by guessing the number of beans in a jar. Kids will enjoy learning about history and math from this gentle, funny book.

I have included this book on my boys list.