Book Review: Secrets to success for kids

Caroline Vandriel reviews Secret Millionaires Club

NaNoWriMo is upon us and my news feeds are full of book recommendations about writing. NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, is an annual event that encourages individuals to actually write that great novel they have bottled up inside. I once completed a novel during NaNoWriMo, which has never seen the light of day since. Throughout November, the Library is hosting Friday night lock-ins for budding novelists, providing space and inspiration, snacks and computers.

Trying to get into the spirit of writing, I chose one of those book recommendations to review for this month’s article, but in the end I had to admit defeat. It felt was too much like homework.

Instead, I went to the stack of self-help books that have been cluttering my house for months (ironically some of them are on the subject of decluttering). Feeling very lazy, I pulled out the thinnest book and read, Secret Millionaires Club: Warren Buffet’s 26 Secrets to Success in the Business of Life. My brain was obviously not functioning at full capacity when I requested it through interlibrary loan so I thought the key words were: millionaire, Warren Buffet, and success. Because, after all, who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?

Here’s what I missed about the book pre-request: it was shelved in the junior nonfiction section, was based on a kid’s television program, and was fully illustrated – with cartoons. It turns out that those 26 secrets, chosen by authors Andy and Amy Heyward of A Squared Entertainment, were not actually secrets, at least not to me.

I’ve been a grown up, physically at least, for at least two thirds of my life, and while I still find adulting and mathing (yes, made-up words) difficult, I do know a lot (mostly stuff that makes me half decent at Trivial Pursuit and my job, but not a lot of really relevant stuff).

But then I started looking at the book from a kid’s perspective. While I might have heard: when you fail to plan, you plan to fail; If it’s too good to be true, it probably is; and price is determined by supply and demand, these may be new concepts for younger folks.

The secrets were put into a context of school kids helping various businesses that were going under. The cartoon illustrations, presumably straight from the show, did not do much to help explain the concepts. I also felt that a huge chunk of the story was missing – as if only key points were taken from a program episode and plunked onto the page. More story would have been helpful.

I’m undecided on the format. While it is an easy book to breeze through, it was highly repetitive due to the structure. The secret was presented, then explained, followed by the story to help illustrate the concept, summarized, and then the secret restated. At the end of each chapter was the quotation: “As I [Warren Buffet] always like to say, ‘The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.’”

As each chapter was only four or five pages long, and this phrase was at the end of every chapter, I felt like I was being beaten over the head with it. But I’m pretty sure the book was not intended to be read in one fell swoop, in which case, the repetition of that phrase is actually a good thing, creating continuity and an overarching theme.

Over all, I would recommend Secret Millionaire Club to my young friends, nieces and nephews. It would accessible to most readers, so long as it is read only a chapter or two at a time.

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