Juvenile Book Review: “Full of Beans” by Jennifer L. Holm
Eighty years ago, a nickel was worth something. One nickel could buy candy, a ticket to a movie, and real food for a meal. It was during the Great Depression, and life was far from ideal even in Key West, Florida. Huge mounds of smelly garbage piled up, people were out of work, and kids went barefoot because there wasn’t enough money to buy shoes.
But Beans Curry and his sidekick, also known as Kermit, his brother, were great at finding odd jobs there that would earn them that precious nickel.
They would do things like sift through the garbage to salvage empty condensed-milk cans that could be reused to serve café con leche. For a whole day’s work, including washing and filing down the rough edges, Beans could earn one nickel. Some of their efforts were not so nice, and Beans gets into real trouble when the local gangster hires him to help distribute illegal liquor. Change comes when the government sends New Deal teams to collect garbage, paint the decaying houses bright colors, and turn Key West into a tourist destination. The new leaders need Beans and his pals to promote these goals. This funny book is a testament to the grit and leadership youngsters showed when times were tough and they could be part of the solution.
Random House (2016). Reviewed by Lillian Hecker, Children’s Services Librarian. For Ages 8-12.