A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Teaches readers about capitalism, economics, how the stock market works.
Lawn Boy is a clever, funny, and fun introduction to economics. Messages include: Be careful how and where you invest your money. Beware of people who promise to make you rich -- then take your money.
Positive Role Models
Unnamed 12-year-old boy learns a lot about making, spending, and saving money, but makes mistakes at first. He holds back some of the Latino workers' pay, allegedly to be able to provide for them in winter. When an adult bullies him to get his money, the boy doesn't go to the cops for help out of fear that he'll put his undocumented workers in danger with authorities. His mother goes along with this reasoning, so they don't alert police.
The boy, his family, neighbors, including Arnold, are White. The 15 undocumented workers the boy hires to mow the lawns are Latino, and they're portrayed as all living together in a house and traveling long distances, crowded together, to get to their landscaping jobs. He ends up shorting them on pay, influenced by the shady Arnold, providing context of classism and racism that's worthy of discussion.
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Violence & Scariness
A boxer roughs up some villains, wins a boxing match with one punch.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lawn Boy, by Gary Paulsen, is a fun story told in the first person about a 12-year-old boy in Minnesota who has been given his grandpa's old rideable lawnmower and starts a business mowing his neighbors' lawns. One of his neighbors, a hippie stockbroker, offers to invest the profits, but it turns out he has some unsavory connections. One aspect of the story is how the boy hires 15 undocumented Latino workers to mow the lawns for him, and then holds back some of their pay, allegedly to help them get through the winter months. This could spark valuable discussions about exploitation of workers and how capitalism works. A boxer roughs up some villains, and he wins a boxing match with one punch.
Is It Any Good?
This fun book is a short, funny, absurd confection that secretly conveys some ideas worth thinking about, including issues of class and race and hiring and exploiting undocumented workers. Veteran author Gary Paulsen gets right to the point, with no frills or unnecessary description, and readers will be grinning from beginning to end. Lawn Boy might inspire kids to go out and try to earn some money.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.