WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
Type: Classic, Fictional Biography
Basic Plot: Kathryn is a daughter of parents who have emigrated from Norway. She and her family go through things that are good and bad as she grows up and she and her siblings learns a lot of lessons from the patience and morals of their mother.
Plot: 3½/5 Above Average: The plot is set up in a very unique way. The chapters go through time progression, for they get older and go to higher grades, but they have no main story. It is like a lot of little stories about the same people instead of one plot. It was not done in a way that was confusing or weird though, but in a way that was smooth and made sense.
Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Very Well Written: The writing style was simple and fresh, but the simpleness did not make the descriptions lifeless or dull. The descriptions were what would be expected of a well-written children’s book. They were easy to understand and informative even without the flowery speeches that some may feel are necessary to make a good book.
Moral: 3½/5 Good Lessons: There are many little morals in the book such as not being selfish and admitting when you have made a mistake. Make sure you are aware that they are a moral family but not a religious family. They do not go to church or anything of that sort. Also the mother breaks one or two rules because she feels she needs to do things the rules say she can’t.
Overall: 3 ½/5 Above Average: Mama’s Bank Account was well written. I believe that children older than ten and older could read this easily and understand the lessons in it.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 0/5 None
Violence: 1/5 Light Violence: It is mentioned that a man got hurt while working. It is not graphic or disturbing at all, only made known it happened. The covers on some hidden magazines are described as being a little violent. (Which is the reason Kathryn hides them.) The cat they own gets in a lot of fights in one chapter and has injuries from them. The cat also scratches one of the girl’s arms a lot. It is talked about how a man is in a fatal horse accident.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 1/5: One or Two Light Utterances: The word “hell” is used to swear once. A man ask his nephew if he knows how to swear and then teaches him how to. It is mentioned that a man swears twice, but it does not say what he said.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: ½/5 One Slightly Emotional Scene: When the family cat comes home from one fight he is greatly injured and the family believes he will die. This is very sad for one of the very young girls, but the cat ends up surviving.
Religious Issues: ½ /1 Slightly Suggestive: Kathryn and her friend decide to do a Catholic Nine Day Novena so that Kathryn can get some money. It may bother some that Kathryn’s father was taken to a Catholic hospital with nuns.
Magic: ½/5 Slight References: A doctor’s wife talks of her husband’s hands having “magic.” No magic is done in the book.
Others: Tobacco is mentioned in terms of quitting its use. It is suspected that a man is a heavy drinker (though he probably was not) and when he is dying he wants whiskey, though he does not get any. Alcohol is used to set fire under a chafing dish. Some wine is brought to a school tea party by a student, and the girl and Kathryn both claim that it “is good for the stommack” (Though only one is saying it from belief). The two girl’s favorite candy has rum in it. No wine is drunk, but the girls do eat the candy. A cat is named Elizabeth, even though he is later found out to be a boy and is then called Uncle Elizabeth.
Overall: 1/5 Child Appropriate: This book is almost completely child appropriate except for that one swear word. Because of it I will have to recommend that a child be at least ten before they read it unless you decide to cross the word out with a pen.