Oh, the mighty dollar. If you are like me, you struggle to recall the moment you received your first buck, but you can vividly remember the first time you earned one. It likely came with a lesson attached, about the exchange of goods and services for personal monetary gain that can either be spent or saved. A critical and especially timely life lesson today, considering the, you know, the economy.
Whether we want to admit it or not, we live in a world fueled by greed. An ongoing war between the have’s and have not’s, the 99% and 1%, the cake bakers and cake eaters. Even in the pristine wilderness greed runs rampant, as detailed in the latest release from the venerable and unrelated duo Stan and Jan Berenstain, The Trouble With Money.
Here, we find Bears Brother and Sister in the familiar throws of a spending spree, blowing through gift money from relatives and probably the Government, quickly accumulating one needless toy after another. The high proves to be fleeting when the well runs dry, and Brother and Sister Bear must now devise a plan to get that next check.
At the advice of their parents, the cubs decide to start earning money through the exchange of various goods and services, some of which simply cannot be printed here. It is also around this time the book’s clear right-wing agenda not so subtly begins to take shape.
You watch helplessly as the cubs are driven to the dark edges of greed, lust and envy, and nearly shatter the already fragile piggy bank that is the Bear family. You scratch your head when they resort to haggling labor from random bears off the street, clearly undermining the important lessons these very bears taught us in Don’t Talk to Strangers. Just as soon as you start to brace for the worst, the sun comes back up and he’s brought a rainbow.
Ultimately, the story drags as the muted dialogue and predictable conclusion fail to offer much in the way of page-turning anticipation. Papa Bear is once again the petulant alpha as Mama plods along obediently tending to the house and cleaning up the family’s messes, her perpetual sadness and wanting in tow.
When it comes to delivering valuable insight on budgeting, labor laws and portfolio management, this book simply comes up a few cents short. Sure, there are bankable lessons such as the importance of savings and interest, but there is little of interest to be found and frankly, the story drifts too closely to outright criticism of hard work. Oops, this book’s liberal agenda is showing.
Yes, the bonus stickers are a nice touch, but make no mistake, this book is a Beren-STAIN on an otherwise tidy legacy.