________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 22 . . . . June 27, 2008


Centsibility: The Planet Girl Guide to Money. (Planet Girl).

Stacey Roderick & Ellen Warwick. Illustrated by Monika Melnychuk.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008.
80 pp., hardcover, $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-208-7.

Subject Headings:
Money-Juvenile literature.
Finance, Personal-Juvenile literature.
Girls-Finance, Personal-Juvenile literature.

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Lizanne Eastwood.

**** /4


"So if you're going to spend money, you need to know how to make it. If you make it, you should know how to save it. And once you have it, well, it's pretty great to be able to share it. A money-smart girl needs to know it all: how to make it, save it, spend it and share it."


Centsibility is a very timely book for me to review as I am currently in the process of developing a program called "A Girl's Eye View" which all about empowering tweens and giving them a platform for their voices to be heard. We all know that society considers money to be a source of power, and so teaching young girls how to deal with money is definitely a great way to empower them.

     Teaching money sense is not a part of our schools' curricula, although it should be. This book has many teachable math moments, and teaching our young to be sensible, savvy consumers only makes sense in a society that needs to learn to restrain its consuming habits which are spiraling out of control.

     The illustrations in Centsibility are very hip, with a graphic novel sensibility to the beginning of each chapter. A very well laid out table of contents divides the book into three sections: Save It, Spend It, Share It. Each of these sections has six to nine subheadings, and the sections all include fun quizzes, how-to projects, templates for making budgets and wise spending decisions.

     Centsibility sets out to make girls money savvy. Studies show that, on average, teen girls spend more money weekly than boys. "This means girls have real spending power! And since advertisers know this and will do what they can to get you spending on the stuff they're selling, do yourself a favour and use your power wisely."

     The first section of the book, "Save It," talks about first jobs and how earning money gives you independence. Working can boost your self-confidence and your bank book. As well, having a job now can give you an idea about your future careers. There are tips on earning money at home and finding a job outside the home. The quiz about whether or not you have entrepreneurial spirit was eye-opening!

     I particularly like the tips on job safety:

If your biz takes you somewhere you've never been before, bring a parent or adult friend with you. If you need to go into people's homes make sure your parents know the name, address and phone number of where you are going and how long you expect to be there. Always go with your gut – if something is making you feel uneasy, leave the situation".

     This section also has a fun quiz about your money purse-onality. Saving is about making and having choices. Creating savings goals, how to open your own bank account and how to create you own picture frame wall safe are some of the topics covered in this section. I really liked the idea that saving is a habit, not a skill. You can only get better at it the more you practice, and the rewards just keep growing.

     The second section, "Spend It," has some really great ideas of particular interest to today's young women. It tells how you can use your purchasing power to shop "Sweat Shop Free" and to shop second-hand and vintage stores to keep perfectly good things out of landfill sites.

     Budgeting means that you control your money instead of your money controlling you. To that end, the authors show how to keep a money journal, talk about why its important to save your receipts and how not to spend money – great tips on being thrifty. "It's tough to get away from advertising. So be smart about the messages you read – be a consumer who thinks for herself." It is wonderful to see media literacy being taught at this age level.

     The final section, "Share It," talks about the importance of giving back to charities or organizations you care about. The authors mention that, if you can't afford to give cash to your fave charity, you can still give the gift of your time through fundraising or volunteer efforts. There are lots of tips on how to hold a fantastic fundraiser, how to find a reputable charity and a great recipe for "When Life gives you Lemons Lemonade" - fabulous to serve at fundraising functions.

     The authors speak in a language to which tweens and teenagers will relate, and the illustrations add to the "cool appeal" of this book. Another great addition to the "Planet Girls" series.

Highly Recommended.

Lizanne Eastwood is a Community Literacy Coordinator with the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, a library employee and a home schooling parent of two active teenagers in Grand Forks, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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