Not old enough to work at the Clucket Bucket or Dairy Whip and with no plans for sports or camp, the 12-year-old hero of Gary Paulsen's hilarious novel, Lawn Boy, simply wants to earn a little extra money to repair his bike. His grandmother's odd birthday gift—an old riding lawn mower—sets the course for his surprising and profitable summer.
Arnold, one of his first clients, has a cash-flow problem of his own. The work-at-home stockbroker offers to invest the boy's pay in the stock market, and when the preteen has more demands for mowing than he can possibly supply, Arnold helps set him up as the boss of 15 employees. The business operations are hard for the boy to follow, and he is shocked to learn that he not only owns stock in a coffin-making corporation, he's also the sole sponsor of a heavyweight boxer. The threat of a hostile takeover forces the boy to let his parents in on his sizable new income—nearly half a million dollars!
With his quick-paced, conversational narration and such chapter headings as "The Law of Increasing Product Demand Versus Flat Production Capacity," Paulsen presents capitalism—and storytelling—at its best in this delightful summer story. Copyright 2007 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
When the twelve-year-old narrator's grandmother gives him a lawnmower, the youngster decides he might as well earn a few bucks. He meets Arnold, an investor with a cash-flow problem, who promises to buy stocks for him as payment for a freshly trimmed yard. With all the energy of a bull market, this brief farce has summer escapism written all over it. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
When the twelve-year-old narrator's grandmother gives him a lawnmower, the youngster decides he might as well earn a few bucks. He meets Arnold, an investor with a cash-flow problem, who promises to buy stocks for him as payment for a freshly trimmed yard. With all the energy of a bull market, this brief farce has summer escapism written all over it. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2007 #4
There are few twelve-year-old boys who get a lawnmower for their birthday, and probably fewer still who keep up with the stock market, but Paulsen presents just such a character, appealingly gift-wrapped in an original, humorous tale. When the narrator's ditzy grandmother gives him his grandfather's old riding mower for his twelfth birthday, the youngster feels a kinship with the machine and decides that, since he has little to do over the summer, he might as well earn a few bucks mowing lawns. Then he meets Arnold, an investor with a cash-flow problem, who promises to buy stocks for him as payment for a freshly trimmed yard. The business grows; Arnold advises the fledgling capitalist to outsource many of his services, all the while hedging against inflation with more and more investments. These then double, triple, and quadruple and expand to more bizarre ventures, including shares in a prizefighter, Joey Pow. With all the energy of a bull market and a farce that grows as steadily as crabgrass, this brief novel mows down weightier tomes on required reading lists and has summer escapism written all over it. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 May #2
After his grandmother gives him an old riding lawnmower for his summer birthday, this comedy's 12-year-old narrator putt-putts into a series of increasingly complex and economically advantageous adventures. As each lawn job begets another, one client--persuasive day-trader Arnold Howell--barters market investing and dubious local business connections. Our naÃ¯ve entrepreneur thus unwittingly acquires stock in an Internet start-up and a coffin company; a capable landscaping staff of 15 and the sponsorship of a hulking boxer named Joseph Powdermilk. There's a semi-climactic scuffle with some bad guys bent on appropriating the lawn business, but Joey Pow easily dispatches them. If there's tension here, it derives from the unremitting good news: While the reader may worry that Arnold's a rip-off artist, Joey Pow will blow his fight, or (at the very least) the parents will go ballistic once clued in--all ends refreshingly well. The most complicated parts of this breezy affair are the chapter titles, which seem lifted from an officious, tenure-track academician's economics text. Capital! (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection - October 2007
A 12-year-old boy receives an old riding lawn mower that belonged to his late grandfather from his grandmother for his birthday. The boy needs a tire for his bike, so he begins mowing lawns, having no idea where this will lead. His business mushrooms, one of his customers invests his money, he adds crews, and even sponsors a fighter. Capitalism at its best! This is a fantastical tale that is slapstick, improbable, and funny. We never learn the boy's identity-so he is an every man, or every boy in this case. Readers will learn to dream big when they read this story! This is another winner from Gary Paulsen, a perennial favorite. Recommended. Rita Fontinha, Library Media Specialist, Norwood (Massachusetts) High School Â© 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 June #2
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)[Page 61]. 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[Page 157]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.