The Startup Squad by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear, 128 pp, RL 4

Review Copy from Imprint

I have to admit - everything about The Startup Squad seemed so gimmicky and packaged that I was sure I wouldn't like it when it first arrived in my mailbox. But, the letter from the publisher, Erin Stein, at the start of my Advance Reader's Edition changed my mind immediately. Noting that she has long dreamed of finding the right book to inspire girls to explore entrepreneurship, Stein goes on to say, 

We don't often teach basic business principles in school, and many children are given the erroneous impression that business is something that is too complicated for them to understand or attempt. Girls, in particular, are left out of the conversation as they get older. The Pew Research Center released findings in September, 2018 that just 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are female. As the saying goes, girls need to see it to be it.

When self-described life-long-business-builder  and father of two daughters Brian Weisfeld brought his idea for inspiring girls with the spirit of entrepreneurship and, "help girls reach their potential through experiencing entrepreneurship at an early age, no matter what they are passionate about," Stein knew she had the right author to launch The Startup Squad. This promises to be a fantastic series, with each book including back matter that offers young readers solid tips, ideas and inspirations for starting their own businesses, including a profile in each book of a different real girl who is running her own business. Enhancing the back matter is a truly wonderful, useful, well designed website with even more ideas and inspirations, including a page featuring GirlCEOs. Be sure to read about Sara Robinson, of SaraSews, the young entrepreneur who is featured in the first book in The Startup Squad series. There is also 100Inspiring100, an initiative aimed at finding 100 female leaders to donate 100 copies of The Startup Squad to 100 underserved girls through Girls Inc., NYC and a really fantastic page of book reviews (and activity guides) of entrepreneurial-themed books!

One of the best things about the various jobs I've had working with kid's books and kids for the last 25 years is getting to talk to kids about books. Despite having done this for so long, I still forget that I take away different things from kid's books than the kids who read them. I finished The Start Up Squad deeply impressed with the characters and how they interacted throughout the story. Sixth graders Resa, Didi, Harriet and Amelia (Afro-Latina, East Asian, Asian and white) have to work together running a lemonade stand over two weekends, competing against the rest of the kids in their class to earn money for a field trip to an amusement park - and the special VIP tickets that go to the team that brings in the most money. Resa is a #girlboss who has had an Idea Book since she was six. Didi is a future negotiator for the United Nations. Harriet is an explosion of creativity and energy and, in her hand-me-downs from her fashionista cousin, Cam-Thu, she stands out in a crowd. Amelia, the new girl, is quiet and thoughtful and seems serious. The friction between the four is almost immediate, and after a certain point, even Didi gives up on trying to smooth things over for demanding Resa.

The girls have an early competitor in Val and her super-selling team, and they do their best to set up and stock their stand without the help of adults - and with the meager $20 (a $5.00 contribution from each girl's family) to start. But, their best isn't great. Frustrated and unsure how to move forward, Resa gets some good advice from an older girl about how to be a good boss (and how to learn from your competition) and Lickin' Lips Lemonade starts turning a profit! What I love most about The Startup Squad is that, despite this turnaround, the girls don't win. Even better, Resa does some math and realizes that they will not win before their final day of selling is over and, in a shift of mindset, decides to close out the day enjoying her squad instead of pushing them to sell more. But, that doesn't mean that Resa is out of ideas or that she hasn't learned how to bring her squad together in a new venture that I truly look forward to reading about!

I'll be putting this book on the shelves of my library as you read this. Check back here for what real girls have to say about this book and the website!

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