written by Becky Birtha; illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
(Albert Whitman & Company) 2010
Source: Mebane Public Library
Marshall Loman is tired of eating beans. Unfortunately, it is all his Depression-era family can afford to fix. His father has been out of work for months, and his Aunt Minnie and Uncle Matt have moved in. While walking to school one morning, Marshall's opinion of beans begins to change. A local furniture store has filled a large glass jar with dried beans for a contest. The person who comes closest to guessing the number of beans in the jar wins a new sewing machine. Marshall sets his mind to helping his mother win the sewing machine. He uses the knowledge he has gained from studying measuring and estimation to help his mother make a very educated guess and win the contest.
You can't help but like a book that combines math, history, and a lesson on character. Becky Birtha has combined all three to create a winning story that will make a terrific read aloud for several content areas. Lucky Beans would work well for a unit on measuring capacity in math. I also really like how Marshall uses problem solving to help his mother. This is an excellent character lesson for students.