Not all girls have to like STEM/STEAM*, but they should at least learn to understand business basics. And so serial entrepreneur Brian Weisfeld and acclaimed children’s author Nicole C. Kear have teamed up to create THE STARTUP SQUAD, as part of a same-named program that inspires girls through entrepreneurship. More on that later.
Thank you Kidlit Exchange and Imprint books for the ARC! All opinions are my own
Type A Teresa (Resa) Lopez is excited to team up with BFF Indira (Didi) to work on their class’s assigned lemonade competition. Resa should be fine – her parents have conditioning her since zygotehood to follow in her gourmet donut mogul entrepreneur mom’s footsteps.
But she doesn’t anticipate having to deal with nightmare teammates fellow know-it-all Type A new girl Amelia and artsy, loud, poster-child-for-ADHD Harriet, or going up against archnemesis (Another Type A) Val and her “dream team of overacheivers”. The prize? Bragging rights, of course.
Oh, and VIP tickets to amazing amusement park Adventure Central.
The girls quickly agree on a name – Lickin’ Lips Lemonade. After that, they can’t seem to get their act together as a team for most of the book, and those parts drag a bit until the reader more than gets the message – teamwork, consensus, and learning to pivot after mistakes are key to success in business.* However, the over-the-top descriptions of the rival lemonade stands and their antics carry the story.
To note, at least the Squad are of diverse ethnic backgrounds; last names don’t seem to be mentioned for other characters. That said, race/ethnicity seem to be a non-issue in their idyllic and presumably affluent community.
- Text gets a little didactic at times (Right, wrong, or indifferent, this story reads somewhat as a fable written to teach girls business fundamentals).
- The off-the-wall ideas of the eccentric Harriet that saved the day! Weird people do not get enough credit.
- Strong backmatter on the basics of entrepreneurship and business-building explained in an age-appropriate way.
- The girls do learn from their “failure” (second place in the contest) and decide to move forward with another venture, presumably the cliffhanger into the next book in the series.
- Realistic portrayal of a group of too-different (in the case of Resa and Amelia, too similar!) girls struggling to get along and work together.
- The book is part of a larger project – The Startup Squad – encouraging girls to go into business with a book club, blog, community, and more! There is currently a contest for a young female entrepreneur (age 7 – 14) to be featured in the series’ final book, which is beyond cool as well as brilliant marketing.
- The“fable-plus-interactive instructions” format of The Startup Squad initiative teaches girls that business sense underpins turning any passion into a living.
- It cannot be overstated how much Weisfeld, who has two young daughters, seems to “get it” about the right way to authentically empower girls.
I just wish they’d make a series like this to teach entrepreneurship to boys! But that’s another blog post for another day.
A girl who would have liked The Babysitters Club had she been 30 years older. Resa screams Kristy Thomas for the new millennium.
THE STARTUP SQUAD is out now from Imprint books.
*No, really, they will be fine if they choose another line of work.
**Now, Brian and Nicole, if you could find a way to make this clear to some of the stubborn-headed execs
that have given me ulcers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years?