Author: Nancy Kelly Allen
Illustrator: Adam Doyle
Publisher and Year: Charlesbridge, 1999
Number of Pages: 32 pages
Tags/Themes: Colleen Swanson, Math, Culture, Diversity, Adventure, Science, 3-5, Money
Descriptive Annotation: In Once Upon a Dime, Farmer Worth discovers a plant sprouting out of the dirt on his farm. The unusual plant grows rapidly and blooms flowers with pennies at the center of each. The young boy working on the farm collects 100 pennies from the plant and saves them in a jar. Farmer Worth then fertilizes the plant with his organic fertilizer and the next season the plant blooms again this time with nickels at the center of each flower. The boy again collects 100 nickels and saves them in a jar. The strange plant continues to produce flowers with coins at the center for the next two seasons. The boy collects 100 dimes and 100 quarters and saves each in his jar for he farmer. The following two springs the tree produces 100 one-dollar bills and then 100 Yuan Chinese dollars. Farmer Worth is ecstatic and decides to take the Yuan from the tree and travel to China with his wife, leaving the farm in the boy’s hands. While running the farm alone, the boy begins to experiment with the fertilizer he uses for the money tree each season. Each time the tree blooms, the boy counts and saves he money in a jar. Finally Farmer Worth returns from China and explains to the boy that the money is really not important to him at all but rather the beautiful chimes of the dimes are all he wants. Thus the farmer and the boy return to using the original fertilizer on the money tree that produces dimes which chime in the wind. In this story there is about a paragraph of text per page making this book most suitable fore grades 3-5. The illustrations in this text are vivid and colorful acrylic painting depicting the farmer, the boy, the animals, and the money tree. For students reading this book some prior knowledge may be needed into what Chinese Yuan is and how much it is worth.
Linguistic and Cultural diversity Analysis: In this story there is some cultural diversity through the incorporation of the Chinese Yuan and Farmer Worth’s trip to China. The story also presents a diverse group of animals on the farm. There is not much linguistic diversity in this story besides the Chinese Yuan. This text would however generate a discussion among students as to what Chinese Yuan is and how much it is worth compared to American money.
Interdisciplinary Connections: This text can easily be integrated with both Mathematics and Science in the elementary grades. In Math, students may be discussing money and this text can be used as a resource to support that lesson. In addition, students may have to determine how much money the money tree produces throughout the book. In regards to Science, this text may be integrated to discuss plant grow and the purpose and importance of fertilizer. This text may serve as an introduction to an experiment where they plant the same time of plant in several different types of fertilizer and then observe the results.
Other Information: Overall I really enjoyed this book however it began to become confusing in the middle of the book because of so many seasons passing on the farm. I had to reread a section of the book to understand exactly what was happening and when. This story is best suited for students in grades 3-5 due to the content and the text. After reading this text I would challenge students to go back through the story in groups and determine how much money the money tree produces. I see students of all kinds enjoying this text because it presents money in a unique way. In addition, this story plays off the phrase “money doesn’t grown on trees” and in this case it actually does.