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The Year Money Grew on Trees Hardcover – September 6, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–An old-fashioned quality permeates this story of a 14-year-old who is hornswoggled by an elderly neighbor in the early 1980s near Farmington, NM. Lured by the promise of gaining ownership of her apple orchard, Jackson agrees to conniving Mrs. Nelson's proposal that if he does all the work and gives her the first $8,000 of proceeds, she will give him the deed to the land. The contract is signed at a lawyer's office. Jackson is as wily as his neighbor, and he manages to gain a work crew of his sisters and cousins, overcomes his mother's resistance, and is amazingly resourceful at handling each obstacle as it appears. The story will be especially appealing to those hoping to promote a solid work ethic and an economical attitude that the recent Wall Street woes have brought back to the fore. The focus on the tremendous amount of labor involved and the battle of man versus nature gradually heightens the suspense, as the possibility of success seems doomed. Closest to Gary Paulsen's Lawn Boy (Delacorte, 2007) in its exploration of work, this novel is much more realistic and less tinged with fantasy elements. The pride Jackson feels in his ability to meet the challenges exemplifies the traditional values that permeate each page, and yet he is no hero; he is clearly in over his head and knows it, which rescues the story from being preachy or priggishly pompous. This is a book that is cutting-edge 2010 in its appeal to 19th-century values.Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Most fiction is about how to do something intellectual, like solve a mystery, or emotional, like fall in love. This, however, is about how 14-year-old Jackson Jones does something extremely practical: grow apples. At first it seems to be a get-rich-quick scheme. Mrs. Nelson’s son doesn’t want anything to do with his late father’s orchard, and Mrs. Nelson promises Jackson the orchard itself if he can raise and sell $8,000 worth of fruit. Although he enlists his sisters and cousins, the amount of work that comes with the orchard—pruning, fertilizing, picking, selling—is enormous. Can he pull it off? And if he does, will Mrs. Nelson stick to her part of the bargain? There’s a lot here about farming (complete with fine spot illustrations of equipment and irrigation systems) that not every reader will enjoy. But there’s also a strong sense of the satisfaction that comes with ambition, hard work, and finally success that will pull many kids along. Between the math, the growing, and the people skills, this is a unique book, and one where readers will learn something right along with Jackson. Grades 5-8. --Ilene Cooper