The Genie Scheme

( 9 )


When Janna impulsively buys a winter hat for a bag lady, she expects nothing in return. But Janna's kindness pays off in a big way when the bag lady turns out to be a genie! Now Janna is the genie's master and she couldn't be happier, especially when she learns that the "three wishes" rule is strictly for fairy tales!

Before long, Janna's room is overflowing with clothes and gadgets -- but things aren't quite as simple as they seem. Making wishes comes with its own set of rules,...

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The Genie Scheme

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When Janna impulsively buys a winter hat for a bag lady, she expects nothing in return. But Janna's kindness pays off in a big way when the bag lady turns out to be a genie! Now Janna is the genie's master and she couldn't be happier, especially when she learns that the "three wishes" rule is strictly for fairy tales!

Before long, Janna's room is overflowing with clothes and gadgets -- but things aren't quite as simple as they seem. Making wishes comes with its own set of rules, and Janna discovers that "unlimited" has some...well, limits. Genies can't make something out of nothing, so everything that Janna wishes for is taken from somebody else. Oops. And then there's the problem of genie wattage -- there's only so much of it, and Janna is using it up faster than she'd like. What's a greedy girl to do?

With insight, warmth, and a refreshing dose of humor, Kimberly K. Jones puts a new twist on the old adage "Be careful what you wish for."

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Janna really resents living frugally, but even she can recognize that some people are worse off—like the bag lady she buys a winter hat. Or maybe the bag lady isn't so bad off; it turns out that she is a genie! Of course, Janna leaps at the chance to have her wishes fulfilled. She soon finds out that genies cannot create things out of thin air and that everything she wishes for will come from somewhere or somebody! She also learns that there's only so much genie wattage; as soon as Janna has used it all up, no more wishes. As Janna makes more and more wishes, the genie finds ways to open Janna's eyes to the less fortunate. While the concept of a genie is executed humorously at first (e.g., Janna's first wish is to have a wardrobe like her classmate and the entire contents of that girl's closet are transported to Janna's home), the book quickly becomes very didactic and preachy. While the lessons about the less fortunate are good ones, the examples used (e.g., visiting the homeless) are rather tired and don't pack the punch they could. Still, the genie is a rather amusing character and her interaction with Janna is, for the most part, entertaining. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6

Janna, 12, desperately wants to win the lottery so she and her mother can have a decent car, she can have a wardrobe to rival schoolmate Elizabeth Newby's, and her mother wouldn't have to worry so much about money. What she gets instead, through a random act of kindness, is a bag-lady genie. Janna soon learns that wishes come with a price, and that material possessions don't lead to the happiness she expected. With her genie's "genie wattage" dangerously low, Janna has one wish left that she wants to make count, and have an effect on the world. The novel contains many amusing moments and it drives home the message that giving of oneself is the secret to happiness. The story is at times predictable and falters toward the end with a rushed, contrived conclusion. However, readers will have an enjoyable time getting to that point.-Beth Cuddy, Seward Elementary School, Auburn, NY

Kirkus Reviews
Twelve-year-old Janna is fed up with the constant struggle to get by on her mom's paltry income. Disenchanted with secondhand clothes and thrift stores, Janna is ready for change. That change, however, springs from an unlikely source. It comes not from her dream of winning the lottery but evolves out of Janna's impulsive act of generosity toward an elderly bag lady. The curmudgeonly geriatric turns out to be a thousands-of-years-old genie with an attitude, jaded by the excesses of human greed. Not your usual tween offering, Jones's tale delves into the perils of homelessness, the poverty of lives filled with monetary wealth but lacking substance and the necessity of effecting a positive change. What makes this tale palatable despite its weighty moral is readers' ability to relate to Janna. Spunky and slightly self-absorbed, Janna wishes first for a closet full of the newest fashions. Under the gruff tutelage of the genie, Janna eventually recognizes the interconnectedness among all people. What Janna chooses to do with her wishes will keep readers engaged until the tale's satisfying conclusion. (Fantasy. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416955542
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
  • Publication date: 3/10/2009
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kimberly K. Jones is the author of Sand Dollar Summer, which earned two starred reviews, was named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and was chosen by Booklist as one of the Top Ten First Novels for Youth. She lives in Monkton, Vermont. Visit her online at

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Read an Excerpt

Match all six numbers and be the winner of the Mega Multimillion Dollar Lotto Lottery!" brayed the skinny man on the TV. "This week's jackpot is three and a half million dollars!"

The camera swept to a tall blonde woman with freakishly long silver fingernails who was poised to pluck a numbered Ping-Pong ball as it popped out of the lottery bin.

Janna tightly gripped the pink slip of paper that could change her life. All week she had worried: What if she lost it? What if it got ripped? What if it was the winning ticket but it got wet and the precious magic numbers disappeared in a smear of ink, and her chance at happiness along with them? Or worst of all, what if her mom found the forbidden lottery slip and took it away — like last time?

"But we need the money, Mom!" Janna had moaned.

"The last thing that people who need money can afford is a lottery ticket!" Janna's mom had said.

"But if you don't buy a ticket, how can you ever win? You know, buy a ticket, buy a dream?"

"You have a greater chance of being struck by lightning, dear, yet I don't see you paying for a chance at that."

Then Janna's mother had held up the piece of paper that contained Janna's hopes, and had ripped it into very tiny, very unhopeful pieces and had flushed them down the toilet. It wasn't fair!

But that was last week; this was now. Janna had kept the lottery ticket in an envelope under her pillow ever since she'd bought it, and now the paper was safe in her hand, the numbers crisp and clear. It was the winning ticket, she simply knew it. Those six numbers would take that anxious look from her mother's eyes. Those magic integers would buy them a new car to replace their old and decrepit hatchback named Maybe, because maybe it would start and, then again, maybe it wouldn't. Those nice numerals would buy Janna anything and everything that she had ever, ever wanted or would ever, ever want. She would be just like Elizabeth Newby across the street — a modern day princess with the newest gadgets and gizmos, the neatest clothes, the coolest of everything cool. How happy those numbers would make her!

The first ball popped out, and the silver talons pounced.

"Check your tickets, Ladies and Gentlemen. The first number is...sixty-three!"

Janna didn't need to check her slip. She knew that sixty- three was on it.

The second ball hopped out.

"Thirteen! Lucky thirteen for some folks out there. Are you one of them?"

Yes, Janna was one of them.

The third ball appeared.

"The third number is nine. Three more to go! Are you still with us?"

Janna was. There was a slight pause before the fourth ball appeared, and for a moment Janna lost her hope, her resolve, her absolute belief that she held in her hand the ticket to more than three million dollars. The ball finally appeared.

"Fourth on our numbers hit parade today is twenty-two. Those of you who have matched four numbers are already winners! One hundred dollars to anyone who matches four out of six!"

Janna had already won one hundred dollars. She kissed the piece of paper, breathing sweet, supportive words into it.

"Thirty-one! Do you have a thirty-one?"

Janna didn't have to look. She had looked so many times that she knew the numbers on the pink slip by heart, but she looked all the same, just to make sure that the thirty-one hadn't disappeared.

It hadn't.

Five numbers out of six meant she had already won one thousand dollars, but if she didn't win the entire jackpot, she didn't want any money at all. They could keep their piddly thousand bucks!

The model's silver pincers snatched the final ball like a bird grabbing a worm. There was a horrible second as she fumbled the ball slightly instead of rotating it gracefully, and the painted number got lost in her palm.

"You klutz!" Janna shrieked at the TV. Then, afraid her bad temper would break the magic, she concentrated on being calm and serene.

Sixty-six, she breathed.

Sixty-six, she willed.

Sixty-six. She would do anything for a sixty-six.

Sixty-six. It had to be a sixty-six.

It wouldn't be fair if it was anything except sixty-six! Maybe if she said "sixty-six" sixty-six times?

Sixty-six. Sixty-six. Sixty-six. Sixty-six. Sixty-six. Sixty-six....

The model had regained control of the ball and was slowly rotating it to the screen. There it was! It was...ninety-nine. Janna went cold and still. She felt as if she had just run full speed into a wall. She had been so close. Good-bye, new car. Hello, Maybe. It wasn't fair!

But wait — the silver talons were turning the ball. Here it came, right side up! The ninety-nine turned into a sixty-six! Sixty-six! Janna had known all the time that it had been a winning ticket! How could she ever have doubted it?

The man with the donkey voice was speaking. "We hope you were the lucky one, but if not, there's always next week's Mega Multimillion Dollar Lotto Lottery. Buy a dream for a dollar! Good night, folks!"

Janna stood in the center of the room, clutching the ticket to her chest. Now that she was rich, the very air she breathed seemed different. Now that she was rich, she would change a lot of things. Now that she was rich, she could have everything that Elizabeth Newby had. No, she could have more than Elizabeth Newby had, and before Elizabeth Newby had it.

Janna heard the door open behind her and turned to see her mom with an armful of groceries and a handful of mail. Janna jumped up and ran to her, knocking the mail into the air. She whooped and threw her arms around her mother. She heard glass break as the grocery bag fell to the floor, but Janna didn't care.

"I won! I won!"

Mom held Janna's shoulders and stared at her daughter. Janna waved the pink slip in her mother's face.

"We're rich! I won the lottery just like I always said I would!"

Janna's mom said nothing, but Janna could see the tiredness fall from her eyes, and she saw quite clearly the images that appeared in her mother's mind — a reliable furnace, a dishwasher, a new winter coat instead of a used one.

The telephone rang. Janna fell silent as her mother reached, dreamlike, for the phone.


Janna could see her mother's hand tremble as she handed the receiver to Janna.

"Hello, Janna? This is the president of the United States. I just want to congratulate you on winning the lottery. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person!"

Janna nodded dumbly into the receiver.

"Say thank you," her mother hissed.

"Thank you," Janna squeaked.

When the president hung up, she handed her mother first the telephone and then the telephone book.

"Call up the car dealer. Tell them to bring over that new car we were looking at last week, the fancy convertible. Any color you want!"

It seemed that Janna had no sooner turned around to look out the window than a wrecker was hooking up Maybe to haul it away once and for all. The sleek, shiny blue sports car she and her mother had oohed and aahed over was pulling into Maybe's old place.

As her mother ran out to the car, Janna pulled the stack of catalogs from under her bed, the ones she liked to leaf through and checkmark the things she liked. She dug her mother's credit card out of her purse on the kitchen table and picked up the phone. To save time Janna just ordered one of everything in the first catalog and requested express delivery. Immediately, the doorbell rang. All the things she had ordered had arrived! She had everything stacked in the hall while she dialed the phone number of the next mail-order company.

"Janna," her mother called. "Janna!"

Janna looked out the window to see her mother standing by their new car with a fur coat on over an expensive-looking red dress. Shiny jewels sparkled from her ears, her neck, her wrist.

Janna waved, yet her mother still shouted, "Janna! Janna!"

"Yeah, Mom, I see you. Cool!"


Janna opened her eyes carefully. Her mother was standing in the bedroom doorway.

"What's cool, Janna?"

"Nothing," Janna said.

"Hurry up, lazybones. We need to get a move on if you want to get the best pick of winter coats. I'll go try to start Maybe. Don't forget to bring your money for the bookstore."

Janna turned her head to look out the window. Maybe stood in the driveway like a diseased and disgusting bug. She felt under her pillow. There it was, her pink lottery ticket from last night's lottery. She remembered now. She hadn't even matched one number in the Mega Multimillion Dollar Lotto Lottery.

Reality stunk.

Copyright © 2009 by Kimberly K. Jones

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 17, 2011


    I finished reading it and best book ever!!!!!!!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    my review

    i think this summary is really good and i think ill enjoy this book because im gunna be 13 next month and i love reading!!!1 Thank-you for taking your personal time to read this!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2011

    The best book i ever read

    I went to the library with my mom and she found this book . i read the first page and was in luv once i read it i was memorized i got it from a teacher after and niw have read it 21 times and im still not tired of it¿!"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jaglvr for

    Janna hates being poor. That's how she sees herself. Her mother makes her shop in second-hand stores. And the car that her mom drives, nicknamed Maybe (maybe it will start, maybe it won't) has definitely seen better days. It's on the afternoon that her mom takes her shopping for a new (used) coat, that Janna's world changes.

    When she witnesses the store clerk refusing to sell a used purple hat to a bag lady that doesn't have enough money, Janna takes the money she was going to use to buy The Secret Princess, the latest book in her favorite Medieval Maids series, and buys the hat for the bag lady. It turns out that Janna's selfless act has consequences. Those consequences show up in her bedroom hours later.

    A genie appears on her top bunk out of nowhere. Apparently, the bag lady had been wandering around waiting for someone to show her an act of kindness. It had taken a while, but to show her gratitude, she is now indebted to Janna.

    As would be the reaction of anyone, Janna begins wishing for everything she's ever wanted. Her first wish is to have a wardrobe like Elizabeth Newby, a popular neighbor girl. But it turns out there are "rules" with wishes. She literally gets Elizabeth's clothing. Elizabeth's family freaks out, thinking Elizabeth has run away because everything is suddenly gone in her bedroom. Janna retracts the wish, and tries to learn the rules of genie wishing.

    Eugenie (the name Janna gives her genie) explains that she is only allotted 1000 Genie watts. When they're gone, that's it. But Eugenie has a conscience, and soon makes Janna realize that her wishes are silly and meaningless.

    THE GENIE SCHEME uses a similar concept found in PAY IT FORWARD. When Eugenie makes Janna aware of the world around her, it's up to Janna to do something with that knowledge. Taking her Genie Watts and using them for something good creates a cascade of events that even Eugenie and Janna couldn't foresee.

    Told in an enchanting and non-preachy way, THE GENIE SCHEME will make everyone feel good by the last page. And maybe, it will have a magic of its own...making everyone that reads it want to do a random act of kindness themselves.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2015


    Gets up and walks out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2015


    Sighs and lays in bed dozing off

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2014


    I read one of her other books "11 Birthdays" and i loved it! I did it for a book report and i sent a letter to her and she replied!! I love both of the books she has written and can't wait to read others in the future. I will definatly read this again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013


    Libraty awesome

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013


    It was a great book ! Be sure to buy it next time you have money !

    ; )

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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