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Book Review: LAWN BOY

Book Review: LAWN BOY by Gary Paulsen

One of the favorite books in my 7th grade classes right now is LAWN BOY by Gary Paulsen. Just Paulsen’s name alone is enough to get a student to try this book, as most of them know his novel HATCHET from a read-aloud in elementary school. Students love his accessible writing and fast-paced plot lines. In one class, the boys are passing around my copies and begging for their buddies to hurry up and finish. (It all started when I book-talked a batch of books the previous week.)

In LAWN BOY, Paulsen is at his funniest when a perfectly normal wish for a replacement bike tube leads the 12-year-old main character into a life of entrepreneurship. His summer of leisure takes a drastic turn when his grandmother gifts him with his grandfather’s old riding lawnmower.

The grandmother is an eccentric woman who has odd words of wisdom for people that are often seemingly disjointed, but do have a circuitous connection to reality. It is through her unusual gift that LAWN BOY is born and the wheels of fortune begin to roll.

From there we meet Arnold, one of his first customers, a work-from-home day trader, who strikes a deal with the budding businessman. Instead of paying him for mowing, he will invest his money in penny stocks. The reader is unsure of whether or not to trust Arnold, even though the narrator trusts his schemes immediately.

LAWN BOY is filled with humorous, easy-to-understand lessons on basic economics: stocks, capital growth, and investing. Readers see the value of hard work and the importance of treating employees fairly. The foreshadowing sprinkled throughout and the cliffhanger chapter endings keep my students turning pages. Not only that, Paulsen fills the book with wacky situations that compound upon one another, leading to a riotous ending.

Great for reluctant or slow readers, LAWN BOY is only 88 pages long and has much white space, which makes it non-threatening. It is also great for a higher-leveled reader who wants something quick to read, but with a good laugh.

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