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Monday, December 5, 2022
About the Book
Book: There’s No Plan Like No Plan
Author: Steve Searfoss
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Release date: February 23, 2022
Chance & Addie are back for a new adventure. Riding high off of the success of their first business, they decide to launch a new venture, this time shoveling snowy driveways in the winter. They are full of confidence: they have a team of kids, a shed full of shovels, repeat customers, and, best of all, a great plan. But sometimes the perfect plan can get in the way of adapting to something as fickle as the weather. Will they learn to be flexible and figure how to make this new venture work? They’re losing money fast as new challenges pile up faster than the falling snow. Perhaps a curious new partner can show them the way.
KidVenture stories are business adventures where kids figure out how to market their company, understand risk, and negotiate. Each chapter ends with a challenge, including business decisions, ethical dilemmas and interpersonal conflict for young readers to wrestle with. As the story progresses, the characters track revenue, costs, profit margin, and other key metrics which are explained in simple, fun ways that tie into the story.
I wrote my first KidVenture book after years of making up stories to teach my kids about business and economics. Whenever they’d ask how something works or why things were a certain way, I would say, “Let’s pretend you have a business that sells…” and off we’d go. What would start as a simple hypothetical to explain a concept would become an adventure spanning several days as my kids would come back with new questions which would spawn more plot twists. Rather than give them quick answers, I tried to create cliffhangers to get them to really think through an idea and make the experience as interactive as possible.
I try to bring that same spirit of fun, curiosity and challenge to each KidVenture book. That’s why every chapter ends with a dilemma and a set of questions. KidVenture books are fun for kids to read alone, and even more fun to read together and discuss. There are plenty of books where kids learn about being doctors and astronauts and firefighters. There are hardly any where they learn what it’s like to run small business. KidVenture is different. The companies the kids start are modest and simple, but the themes are serious and important.
I’m an entrepreneur who has started a half dozen or so businesses and have had my share of failures. My dad was an entrepreneur and as a kid I used to love asking him about his business and learning the ins and outs of what to do and not do. Mistakes make the best stories — and the best lessons. I wanted to write a business book that was realistic, where you get to see the characters stumble and wander and reset, the way entrepreneurs do in real life. Unlike most books and movies where business is portrayed as easy, where all you need is one good idea and the desire to be successful, the characters in KidVenture find that every day brings new problems to solve.
More from Steve
My kids are very curious and are always asking how things work. Whenever they’d ask about something related to business or economics, I’d create imaginary scenarios where they were the business owner so they could understand better what was going on. For example: why one business would partner with another; why they would choose to sell a product at a loss; why the price of something changes; and so on.
And then one day it occurred to me to write one of these scenarios down as a story. And that’s how KidVenture started. When I was working on the first draft, whenever I told someone I was writing a book for kids to teach them about business, they would frequetnlty tell me it was something that is needed.
There aren’t a lot of books out there for kids about being an entrepreneur and running your own business; and yet, it’s something that kids like learning about because they have a sense it’s important. Not everyone is going to grow up to be a farmer or doctor or airline pilot, but knowing how to manage money and negotiate is something most kids understand they should know more about because they see it every day.
I hope kids who read KidVenture books feel inspired to be more entrepreneurial. It doesn’t necessarily mean they start their own little business. It could mean they feel empowered to negotiate, to not reflexively take the first offer they’re given. I noticed that after reading the book with them, my kids started negotiating a whole lot more. Sometimes that would drive me crazy, but even as it did, I was proud of them for advocating for themselves.
KidVenture hopefully teaches kids to be problem solvers and inspires them to learn from experience. The characters in the story have a lot of learning to do, but it’s not book learning. It’s more…adventurous than that. They learn from trial and error. By making offers and counter-offers. By making a decision and then observing what happens. And they learn by talking to customers and picking their brains. It’s the way you learn as an entrepreneur: by doing. And failing. And trying again.
One thing I really love about the story is the relationship the main character, Chance, has with his parents. Now that I’m a parent, I wanted to write a story that, first of all, my kids could relate to, and second, that was edifying. There are plenty of books and movies about dysfunctional families. KidVenture is different.
I love that at key junctures in the story, Chance turns to his parents for advice. And their style is very different. The dad in the story is playful and sarcastic and doesn’t just give Chance the answers right away. It’s more like he gives him clues to follow. There is a dynamic where the son at times wants to impress, and even best, his father; and at other times, he turns to his dad for advice when he hits a dead end.
But while there’s a competitiveness to his interactions with his dad, there is a sweetness to Chance’s relationship with his mom. He’s able to be vulnerable with her, so when he faces an ethical dilemma in the story, he turns to her. And she’s very savvy and gentle in how she asks questions that get Chance talking and reasoning through the solution himself.
This is a good story for children to learn how to run a small business. I like how the author shows Chance once again wanting to make money even though it is winter. The idea to shovel snow sounds profitable and Chance along with his sisters start their new venture.
Along the way, they learn valuable lessons about making decisions and taking responsibility when things go wrong. At the end of each chapter are questions to answer which will help children understand the ins and outs of business. Each one on the team brought something that helped the business be successful. Chance was always doing charts and broke down how much was made, materials used and salary. This was helpful to see where they needed to improve. One of the biggest lessons Chance learned was to take responsibility when an accident happened at one of their customer’s houses. It was not his fault, but as the leader he did the right thing and showed the other children about integrity and doing what was right.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.