Gary Paulsen is the distinguished author of many critically acclaimed books for young people, His most recent books are The Legend of Bass Reeves, Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day, The Time Hackers, and The Amazing Life of Birds. He lives in New Mexico and Alaska. From the Hardcover edition.
At the start of this witty, quick-moving tale from the Newbery author, a 12-year-old receives an unexpected birthday present from his grandmother: his late grandfather's riding lawn mower. Since his family's lawn is postage-stamp size with grass that "never seemed to grow enough to need mowing," he's initially unsure what to do with the machine. But he soon realizes that he can earn money mowing neighbors' lawns-perhaps even enough to buy a new inner tube for his bike. As the young entrepreneur's lawn-mowing business booms, he sees green in more ways than one, making enough money to buy countless inner tubes and learning a lesson about capitalism and investing. His teacher, a colorful ex-hippie named Arnold, is a down-on-his-luck stockbroker who brokers a barter deal with the lad, offering to invest his earnings for him in exchange for grass-cutting services. Repeatedly remarking how "groovy" Lawn Boy's success is, Arnold instructs his young pal in the rules of the business road, humorously reflected in Paulsen's chapter titles (such as "Capital Growth Coupled with the Principles of Production Expansion" and "Conflict Resolution and Its Effects on Economic Policy"). Adding further wry dimension to the plot are a tough-talking thug who threatens to take over the kid's business, the prize fighter whom Arnold (through another investment) arranges for Lawn Boy to sponsor, and the boy's delightfully-and deceptively-dotty grandmother, who gets the novel's sage last line: "You know, dear, Grandpa always said, take care of your tools and they'll take care of you." Readers will find this madcap story a wise investment of their time. Ages 10-up. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-7-Learning the workings of the free-market economy has never been more fun than in this tall tale of entrepreneurship set in Eden Prairie, MN. When the narrator's grandmother gives him an old rider mower for his 12th birthday, his life changes; he senses "some kind of force behind it." Almost as soon as he figures out how to run it, the boy is in business-by the second day he has eight jobs. When he mows the lawn of Arnold Howell, an aging hippie e-trader, the cash-poor man offers a stock-market account in lieu of payment. Arnold not only invests the money; he also offers business advice. Soon lawn boy has a partner, 15 employees, a lot of money invested in the market, and a prizefighter. Chapter headings suggest business principles behind what is happening. Throughout the tale, the narrator is innocent of his success as he rises early each morning to begin each job, eats lunch on the mower, and longs for a less-hectic summer vacation. This rags-to-riches success story has colorful characters, a villain, and enough tongue-in-cheek humor to make it an enjoyable selection for the whole family.-Kathryn Kosiorek, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, OH Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Starred review, Booklist, April 15, 2007: "[A] short and hilarious tale . . . When it comes to telling funny stories about boys, no one surpasses Paulsen, and here he is in top form." "Paulsen has mastered the very hard trick of sounding exactly like a twelveyear- old without being either cute or condescending." --The New York Times Book Review