Sunday, September 4, 2016

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

"One minute I was twelve years old and wondering where I could get enough money for an inner tube for my old used ten-speed. I didn't have any money and my parents didn't have much either ... The next minute, it seems, I've got a business of my own, with employees, and I'm rich."

This is such a terrific and very short book and it is an excellent way to learn about economics oddly enough.  Lawn Boy is given a old ride-on mower for his birthday.  When a neighbour sees him mowing the family front lawn he asks Lawn Boy (as the narrator we do not learn his name) to mow his yard and so the business begins.  One day, as he is mowing, a man called Arnold comes over and makes a deal. He cannot pay Lawn Boy but he can invest money in the stock exchange.  " ... if the company does well the shares go up in value and you sell the to someone else and make money."  I did panic at this idea of course.  I imaged our hero would be left with no money at all.  I think I need to tell you by the end of the summer, working with a great team including a boxer, he makes close to $480,000!

Take a look at some of the chapter headings in this book :

  • The Principles of Economic Expansion
  • The Growth of Capitalism
  • The Law of Increasing Product demand versus Flat Production Capacity
  • Labor acquisition and its effect on Capital Growth
  • Business and the art of Creative Misrepresentation

The character I really like in Lawn Boy is Grandma.  She seems to speak in riddles but really she is a voice of wisdom.  The final sentence is Lawn Boy will confirm this but meanwhile here is how our narrator introduces her :

"My grandmother is the kind of person who always thinks that no matter how bad things might seem, everything will always come out all right.  Her hair could be on fire and she'd probably say, "Well, at least we have a light to read by."

Lawn Boy would be a terrific book to read to a Grade 5 or 6 class.  Our senior students have read Hatchet so they are familiar with Gary Paulsen.

Here are some reviews you might like to read
Literary Lady
The Big Bad Book Blog

Listen here to an audio sample.  Here are some ideas teachers might use as a way to present a quick book talk about Lawn Boy thanks to the wonderful Nancy Keane.  Here is an extensive set of teaching notes.

My copy of Lawn boy has a very appealing double cover which you can see here.  You lift the green flap to reveal the full cover as seen above.

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