Beans Curry has plans. It’s 1934, and the country is in the Great Depression. There’s no money anywhere for fun things; Beans’ family is just managing to squeak by. His mother is taking in mending, and his father has left Key West to find work in New Jersey, so he can send money back to the family. Beans’ plan is to find a way to make a whole lot of money so he can get his father back home, give his mother time to relax, and get some funds so he can go to the movies every week.
His first venture leads to him being cheated by Winky; the restaurant owner had promised Beans a dime for finding and cleaning cans for his business, but when Beans and his brother Kermit show up with the cans, Winky says it was fifty cans for a dime. Hot, sweaty and angry, Beans casts out his net wider. Several schemes with his friends Pork Chop and Too Bad don’t go as planned. But when Beans hooks up with rum-runner Johnny Cakes, he suddenly has a lucrative job!
Too bad that it’s illegal.
Is the promise of money more important than honesty and friendship? Can a kid from Key West find a way to survive? Beans finds himself caught in the middle of some big lies and some small ones. But he also discovers that keeping your eyes open and seeing what’s around you can lead to some pretty important discoveries…and some surprising sources of income.
Full of Beans is a sort of prequel to the Newbery-Award Winning Turtle in Paradise. (Beans is Turtle’s cousin, and although Turtle is the main character, Beans has a major part to play.) Beans is a character with a lot of character and an authentic voice…and Kirby Heyborne does a great job of translating that voice on CD. In Full of Beans, Beans and his friends come to life, and you can practically feel the heat of Key West around you as you listen to the narration.
This is a relatively short book, and would be great to listen to on a short car trip. If you’re going to Key West, you should definitely read or listen to this book…there’s a lot of history about how Key West developed, and what the residents did to help that happen. Kids in grades three through six would enjoy reading this book, and it would be a good listen for kids as young as six through adults.
And if you listen to the audio, look at the book as well. The afterword, with pictures from Key West in the 1930s, is well worth checking out, and so is the list of internet resources, with links to finding more information.