By Devon Kinch, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: January 27, 2011
The Pretty Penny series became the subject of my thesis while a graduate student in graphic design. I had put off my graduate education until I could afford it – which wasn’t until I hit thirty years old. I spent the better part of my twenties getting my personal finances in order after digging myself out of credit card debt.
The experience of repairing my finances – which is a fancy way of saying I worked two jobs and slowly chipped away at the debt – was transformative. I couldn’t believe I had gotten myself into this kind of trouble. I had a lot of girlfriends who were in the exact same boat, so I set out to create a website and line of products to support thirty-somethings in the repair of their finances. However, as I dug deeper into my research, I discovered that the most effective place to start talking about money was with children. Suddenly, my thesis work underwent a dramatic transformation.
Financial experts say that you can begin teaching a child about money as soon as they can differentiate between a nickel and a dime. So what’s the best way to talk to kids as young as four years old about money? I needed a fun and relatable character to spearhead the mission. My childhood heroines were Punky Brewster, Pippi Longstocking and Annie. All three were smart, edgy, and fearlessly independent young girls. They had their own unique style and attitude that endeared me to them. (They also had totally awesome theme songs, but that’s besides the point.) I wanted Penny to embody the spirit of my childhood idols, but be very much a modern girl of today.
In each book, Penny takes her readers on new adventures by way of the Small Mall. She will reuse old objects to create new shops, she’ll curate exhibitions, print her own newspaper, direct a film, open a puppy dog beauty salon, and sell original one-of-a-kind creations to her friends and neighbors. She is a true mini-entrepreneur: passionate and resourceful. All the while, she will tackle various financial topics like earning, saving, investing, working with coupons, and understanding advertising. The more emotional aspects of money like stealing, fighting about money, overspending, and need vs. wants will also be explored. Penny will investigate these topics with humor, style, and that can-do spirit that Pippi, Punky and Annie were famous for.
I ended up in a very different place than I started with my thesis work – which is a good thing. I had a tremendous amount of fun creating Pretty Penny Sets Up Shop and I can only hope kids will have just as much fun reading the series.
Add this book to your collection: Pretty Penny Sets Up Shop
Learn more about the Pretty Penny series via Devon Kinch’s blog tour:
Monday, January 24: Book Faerie
Tuesday, January 25: Teaching Books
Wednesday, January 26: Family Finance
Thursday, January 27: The Children’s Book Review
Friday, January 28: Booking Mama
Saturday, January 29: Two Writing Teachers
Sunday, January 30: A Frugal Friend
Monday, January 31: Random Acts of Reading