Striker Jones, Economics Detective

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Striker Jones knows his economics. After reading this book, other kids will, too.

Each chapter in this great book by Maggie M. Larche is a mini-mystery involving Striker and his friends and classmates. Each chapter ends with a leading question, for readers to think about before turning the page and getting the answer. The solution reinforces the economics concept(s) at work in Striker's solving the case.

This is a fun way to learn (or relearn) the basics of economics. Concepts covered include scarcity, supply and demand, opportunity cost, exchange of goods (or services), balancing risk with reward, economic self-interest, and the need to spend to deliver a return on investment.

It's also an interesting and well-thought-out twist on the usual kid detective tales. Teachers will enjoy illustrating economics concepts by using these stories, and students will enjoy the learning that goes along with the entertainment of reading a story and trying to outwit Striker the detective.

In one memorable chapter, the students in Striker's class manage to elect as their class representative a guy that nobody really liked. It turns out that this guy promised a benefit for those who voted for him, instead of the other candidate in the race. Enough people thought that their one vote wouldn't be enough to put the not-that-guy candidate over the top that the vote total ended up in not-that-guy's favor. This illustrates the idea that small choices can add up to large events. Readers also learn a bit about voting, democracy, and politics along the way.

The narrative maintains the reader's interest by structuring the events to take place throughout a school year. References are made to the beginning of the school year, to Christmas vacation, Easter,

The author includes regular doses of good-natured humor, that readers of any age would understand as the kinds of things teens would do or say. One especially memorable adventure involved Striker's solving the mystery of one student's finding all the hidden Easter eggs. The students dash around a yard, struggling to keep from bumping into one another, while the promise of the hunt and of the goodies that await afterward spur them on.

The author also introduces new characters and then helpfully reintroduces them in the next chapter, when the reader is more likely to remember them.

Also available is a companion set of lesson plans, making teaching this book and these concepts even easier.

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David White