Lawn Boy. by Gary Paulsen. 2007. Random House 88 pages. ISBN: 9780385746861
On his twelfth birthday, the unnamed narrator of this Gary Paulsen novel receives a lawn mower from his grandmother. Figuring he might make a few bucks, he starts mowing a few of the neighbors’ lawns. Soon, though, he finds himself with more lawns than he can handle and a stockbroker helping him reinvest his money. When all is said and done, he has more money than he ever could have imagined and almost no idea how it all happened.
Though I often think of Gary Paulsen as the author of outdoor adventure stories, I’m finding that his recent comic titles about early adolescence are a lot of fun as well. This one is obviously not very realistic, but it is entertaining as well as educational. Readers become invested (ha ha) in the narrator’s story because it’s so unlikely, and so humorously conveyed, but along the way they also learn basic principles of economics. Some of the concepts will go over younger reader’s heads, but middle school kids might actually be able to learn some real math as the narrator tries to figure out his newfound wealth. Reluctant readers will also gravitate toward the swiftly moving plot and small number of pages.
Fans of Gary Paulsen’s other humorous novels - Harris and Me, Liar Liar, Crush, Masters of Disaster, etc. - will eagerly devour Lawn Boy, as will readers who like the zaniness of Tom Angleberger, Louis Sachar, and Frank Cottrell Boyce (whose Millions would make an especially great read-alike for this book.) Teachers with a need for math-related stories might pair Lawn Boy with The Lemonade War, or any of the other titles on my “Do the Math” book list. There is also a sequel to Lawn Boy called Lawn Boy Returns.
I borrowed Lawn Boy from my local public library.