Mommy and daddy used to tuck the baby in at night with bedtime tales such as "Alice in Wonderland," "Winnie The Pooh" and other fantasies and adventures.
Now when bedtime draws close, mom and dad can share the joys and frustrations of making a buck with their child, thanks to "Ernie Discovers Excellence: A Children's Story for Businessmen of All Ages," by Lewis Lazare, an associate editor of Crain's Chicago Business.
Lazare said he wrote his 7,500-word "capitalist fable," illustrated by Todd Doney, because he was concerned that children get only negative impressions of business. "There had not been any books specifically encouraging them to be businessmen," said Lazare, 33, who is not a parent.
"Eddie Discovers Excellence" is the story of bespectacled youth who foresees boredom, and even terror, in the world of business.
"I dreamed I was a cruel moneygrubber who yelled mean things at people to make them work harder and harder so I would have more money. I don't want to grow up and be like that," Ernie tells his father. Looking up from his Wall Street Journal with a perturbed expression, dad decides to take Ernie along for a day at work at his corporation.
It's an exciting day for Ernie -- his father announces a new line of hamburgers for his fast-food chain, and there are discussions about a new microchip as well as a corporate celebration complete with congratulations from President Reagan. At book's end, an enthusiastic Ernie strides off with his arms and pockets full of business publications.
"When I grow up, I'll be part of a great company that creates all sorts of wonderful things customers will love. We'll have big celebrations to honor all our employes. We'll make loads of money, and we'll be proud of what we do," Ernie tells his friends Sheila and Jim.
Lazare, who has contributed to Advertising Age, Variety and Stagebill, said that although he has never written for children before, he enjoys telling a story.
The project was born when he and Ray Strobel, president of the publishing firm of Turnbull & Willoughby, decided to attack what they saw as a negative view of capitalism in children's publications.
Six months later, in October, "Eddie Discovers Excellence" was ready, at $9.95 a copy, to rival "A Passion for Excellence," the sequel to Tom Peters' and Nancy Austin's "In Search of Excellence"
Turnbull & Willoughby, which printed 15,000 copies of the book, also published "Power Lunching," a book about getting ahead in the business world by ordering the proper cocktails and entrees.
Experts in children's literature said that other books about business are available. "Most books for children between the ages of 7 and 12 ultimately support capitalistic values," said Michele Stepto, an instructor in children's literature at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. She pointed out that many modern children's books show children dealing with money and the business world.
Margaret Coughlan, a children's literature specialist at the Library of Congress, said that among books dealing with business are "The Toothpaste Millionaire," by Jean Merrill, the story of kids whose business takes off with great success, and "Sing Along, Jimmy Joe," by Katherine Paterson, about problems that come with fame and money.