Cover image for Once upon a company
Once upon a company
Halperin, Wendy Anderson.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, 1998.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 30 cm
Tells how a seven-year-old boy and his sisters started a wreath-making business which, over the course of six years, grew to include other businesses, marketing, wholesaling, and investing, and netted more than $16,000.
Reading Level:
580 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.1 0.5 28585.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.3 2 Quiz: 27950 Guided reading level: M.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD62.5 .H355 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



At first, the business is small and so is the cast of characters. Seven-year-old Joel and his two sisters, Kale and Lane, make Christmas wreaths and sell them to a few neighbors. "You could start a college fund with the money you earn", suggests Boppy, their grandfather. And that's how they got their name: The College Fund Wreath Company. In summer, they expand into lemonade and peanut butter sandwiches. Over six years, the business grows, bringing new customers, new partnerships, new workers -- and more money into their college fund. Featuring richly detailed artwork and concluding with an invaluable glossary of business terms, this step-by-step account of one family's adventure in retailing is a wholesale delight.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 6^-10. This is an absolutely winning, and not easily classifiable, picture book. It tells the story of how Halperin's three children became young entrepreneurs in their hometown of South Haven, Michigan. Joel, who is seven the first year, tells how he and his sisters, Kale and Lane, began to make Christmas wreaths to sell, calling their endeavor the College Fund Christmas Wreath Company. In the summer, they build a stand in the shape of a giant peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and sell pb&j sandwiches and lemonade. At each step, Joel explains how they learned along the way, punctuated by exclamations ("Now, we were merchants!" "Now, we are bookkeepers!"), and what it means to have and run a business, and he gives information about profit and loss, investing, selling, and promotion. A glossary is included. This is all done in the most beguiling way, and not the least of it are the illustrations in Halperin's signature style. Her pencil-and-watercolor pictures are placed in a full-page frame, with many small scenes layered in rows or roundels. We see the children gathering pine boughs, talking on the phone; sharing space at the hardware store, and researching at the library. Text pages have charming heads and grace notes in the manner of an illuminated manuscript, except that the images include a pickup truck and an iguana that turns up in the oddest places. A fine seasonal title, a neat introduction to the world of business, and a clear young voice saying, "Go for it! The world is your friend." --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

A pastiche of elaborately bordered colored-pencil and watercolor illustrations packed with cozy details give Halperin's (illustrator of Homeplace) account of the business her children started (to save money for college) an old-world folktale touch. The approach in artwork is an unusual and particularly pleasing choice for a nonfiction picture book, one that, paired with a conversational text, helps make an intimidating subject both approachable and fun. For seven-year-old Joel and his sisters Kale and Lane, the College Fund Wreath Company was a success right out of the starting gate and quickly spawned another seasonal venture, the P.B. and J. Company‘a summertime snack bar that sells lemonade and sandwiches. Told in Joel's first-person narration, the story chronicles the first six years of their business, from start-up to a thriving enterprise that employs other children and with profits to date totaling $16,000‘now invested in zero coupon bonds. This warm and lively introduction to the world of business includes a glossary with additional information on words and concepts introduced in the text (complete with formulas and helpful hints). Informative and encouraging, this down-to-earth success story could inspire a whole generation of young entrepreneurs. Ages 5-9. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-6-Information, inspiration, and imagination burst from this highly creative guide that chronicles one Michigan family's entrepreneurial adventure. At a loss for "something to do," Joel, Kale, and Lane take their mother's suggestion to make and sell Christmas wreaths. It could, she tells them, be the start for earning money for college. With the help of grandparents, classmates, friends, and local townspeople, the College Fund Wreath Company is born and becomes a success, even branching off into the Peanut Butter & Jelly Company during the summer seasons. Landmark events, bits of humor, and a cadre of customers and helpers flow through this real-life story, narrated by Joel, who smoothly integrates various business terms and concepts into the telling. Meanwhile, small, intricately detailed illustrations spice the pages with the people, places, and happenings of this ongoing six-year venture-all tied innovatively together with decorative embellishments that provide an inviting atmosphere. A "bottom-line" winner.-Barbara Elleman, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.