From School Library Journal
Grade 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
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*Starred Review* This short and hilarious tale pitches an ordinary preteen with an old riding lawn mower into a dizzying ascent up the financial ladder. His sights set no higher than a new inner tube for his bike, the young narrator is thrilled to make $60 in one day, mowing his neighbors' lawns. Just as demand for his services skyrockets, he meets Arnold, an honest, home-based stockbroker who becomes his business manager . . and less than a month later, the lad has a dozen migrant laborers in his employ. The legality of these workers is left vague, but their young employer treats them fairly, and the thousands of dollars he earns goes into some wildly successful investments--including sponsorship of a rising prizefighter whose help comes in handy when the burgeoning enterprise attracts a shakedown artist. Thanks to quick lessons in, to quote some of the chapter heads, "Capital Growth Coupled with the Principles of Product Expansion" and "Force of Arms and Its Application to Business," the young tycoon ends up smarter than when he started out, and worth half a million dollars. When it comes to telling funny stories about boys, no one surpasses Paulsen, and here he is in top form. John Peters
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