The Dragon Whistler

The Dragon Whistler
Now available in paperback.


The Lawnboy by Gary Paulsen

If you've read "Hatchet" the classic Gary Paulsen book (and if you've been in sixth grade in the last decade or so, you probably have) then you might be surprised by Lawn Boy (Wendy Lamb Books, 2007). It's nothing like the survivalist tale that won Paulsen a Newbery Honor 22 years ago.

It's a simple book trying to tell a complex financial story, and it does a pretty good job. A 12-year old boy gets a ride-on lawn mower for his birthday. Through happenstance, he ends up spending the summer mowing lawns, and due to some neighborhood politics, quickly grows his business to a staggering level, makes tons of money, and learns about the beauty of a stock split.

This quick, under 100-page story gives kids a high-level idea of business (glossing over things like taxes and undocumented workers), but also has a bit of a dark side when a competitor wants to strong-arm the narrator out of his territory only to be thwarted by a professional boxer with a soft spot for his sponsor.

This leads to some fight scenes in the last sections of the book (some presented in a slapstick manner, some not) that raises the reading level for me a bit (School Library Journal lists it as Grades 4-7 which is a rather wide range if you ask me).

That said, it's an entertaining look at how a little money can make a lot of money if you know what you're doing... or if you can partner with someone who does. 3 bookmarks.

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