KidVenture: Through the Maize Celebration Tour

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About the Book

Book: KidVenture: Through The Maize (KidVenture Book 3)

Author: Steve Searfoss

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Release Date: March 30, 2023

Chance, Addie and Sophie launch a new venture when they get lost in the country and stumble on the idea of starting a corn maze business. They quickly discover that while it’s easy to rush into a maze, finding your way out is hard. They will need to convince an investor to fund the venture, persuade a reluctant farmer to let them build their maze on his corn field, and figure out a way to work with his headstrong nephew. Along the way they will realize just how little they know about planting corn, designing mazes and writing business plans. Through many twists and turns —and dead ends— they will learn how to keep a partnership together and what the true job of a leader is. There’s only one thing harder than finding your way out of a maze: creating a maze people want to get lost in.

KidVenture stories are business adventures where kids figure out how to market their company, understand risk, and negotiate. Each chapter ends with a challenge, including business decisions, ethical dilemmas and interpersonal conflict for young readers to wrestle with. As the story progresses, the characters track revenue, costs, profit margin, and other key metrics which are explained in simple, fun ways that tie into the story.


Click here to get your copy!


About the Author

I wrote my first KidVenture book after years of making up stories to teach my kids about business and economics. Whenever they’d ask how something works or why things were a certain way, I would say, “Let’s pretend you have a business that sells…” and off we’d go. What would start as a simple hypothetical to explain a concept would become an adventure spanning several days as my kids would come back with new questions which would spawn more plot twists. Rather than give them quick answers, I tried to create cliffhangers to get them to really think through an idea and make the experience as interactive as possible.

I try to bring that same spirit of fun, curiosity and challenge to each KidVenture book. That’s why every chapter ends with a dilemma and a set of questions. KidVenture books are fun for kids to read alone, and even more fun to read together and discuss. There are plenty of books where kids learn about being doctors and astronauts and firefighters. There are hardly any where they learn what it’s like to run small business. KidVenture is different. The companies the kids start are modest and simple, but the themes are serious and important.

I’m an entrepreneur who has started a half dozen or so businesses and have had my share of failures. My dad was an entrepreneur and as a kid I used to love asking him about his business and learning the ins and outs of what to do and not do. Mistakes make the best stories — and the best lessons. I wanted to write a business book that was realistic, where you get to see the characters stumble and wander and reset, the way entrepreneurs do in real life. Unlike most books and movies where business is portrayed as easy, where all you need is one good idea and the desire to be successful, the characters in KidVenture find that every day brings new problems to solve.

More from Steve

KidVenture books are interactive business adventure stories for middle grade readers. In every KidVenture book, a group of young entrepreneurs start a business and have to overcome a series of challenges to make their business profitable. Every chapter ends with a series of questions where readers face the same choices as the protagonists and can reflect on what they would do and how they would respond to the obstacle. These can be great starting points for rich discussions if read with a parent or as a group.

Beyond teaching business lessons, KidVenture books are also full of characters encountering ethical dilemmas and all sorts of temptations: the desire to lie when the business is not doing well, the enticement to break a partnership when it’s no longer convenient, the inducement to keep extra profits to yourself and not share them, and so on. Young readers are asked to wrestle with these questions too as the story progresses.

Years ago when my son was about 4 or 5 we went to a corn maze on a school field trip. After a while it occurred to me to hand him the map and have him lead us. I got to show him how to interpret the map, decide which way to turn, and how to look for landmarks. And —this was the best part— I let him get lost, and helped him figure out how to know when you’re lost and how to get  find your way back to a spot you recognize. It was such a sweet memory, an almost perfect vision of what fatherhood is like. And then later I realized, as wonderful as that day was, being a father is much more challenging. The maze has a right way and a wrong way. Life is messier, way more complicated. That thought always stuck with me, the contrast between that day inside the maze and every day outside it. I didn’t know what to do with that idea, until I got a burst of inspiration and decided to write a new KidVenture book based on a corn maze business.

In Through The Maize, there are a group of three siblings who decide to start a corn maze business. Chance, Addie and Sophie remember going to a corn maze when they were younger and lament that it has no closed, so they are inspired to stat one of their own. They go visit a farm just outside of town and present the farmer with a proposal to build a corn maze on one of his fields and fields. The farmer is skeptical and asks for an upfront payment to use his land. This threatens to sink the kids’ new venture before it ever gets going, but after some debate they decide to put together a business plan and find an investor. That’s when the action really starts.

After some negotiation, the farmer agrees to partner with the kids but they must work with his nephew, Cody who is older and has a lot of experience working on a farm. Right away Cody and Chance butt heads, as Cody seems to disagree with everything Chance proposes. Even worse, Cody demands his own share of the profits, separate from what was promised to the farmer. As the kids proceed with their plan, begin planting corn and drawing the maze map, the situation between Chance and Cody only gets worse. Finally tempers explode and the whole venture is in jeopardy. Not only is the business falling apart, there is an investor who will lose his money if Chance and Cody can’t figure out a way to work together.One of my goals with KidVenture books is for kids to feel empowered to take on the world and tackle complex problems. I don’t just mean business problems like figuring out what the price of a product or service should be, or how to market a company. That’s certainly part of it. But more broadly, I want kids to learn how to handle difficult people problems. Business comes down to working with people and to be good at business you have to be good at working with people, whether It’s motivating people on your side to work towards a common goal or negotiating with people on the other side to reach an agreement both can benefit from.

My hope is that young readers will see how Chance handles the relationship with Cody and learn from it. At first, Chance does a terrible job. He’s jealous of the attention Cody gets and he begins to interpret everything Cody says and does as an attack, as a challenge to his authority, even when it isn’t. Things finally start to change when he begins to understand what his role as a leader should be, and that includes making the people who work for him (like Cody) feel like heroes in their own story. That requires humility and letting other people take credit for what they’re accomplishing. Chance has to decide what’s more important: feeling properly recognized, or getting the job done and having a successful business?

Once Chance begins to reframe his relationship with Cody in this way, he also starts to become more aware of how he has been filtering all of Cody’s actions through his own sense of wounded pride and interpreting them in the worst possible way. Chance realizes he has the power to change how he construes what Cody says and does, and this gives him the freedom to focus on what’s important to him (namely finishing the maze) and not be constantly reacting to Cody. This is an enormously empowering realization, one that I hope young readers can learn from which will help them get through their own mazes in life.



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