After spending the last couple of weekends working in my flower garden and planting the pots on our deck, I was motivated to pick up Gary Paulsen's Lawn Boy Returns, which is the sequel to last year's Lawn Boy. For those of you not familiar with the first book, you are in for a treat. In addition to the hilarious story, the chapter titles provide economic lessons about our young hero's rise to fame and fortune. After his ditzy grandmother gives him his grandfather's old riding lawn mower, the twelve-year-old narrator manages to become a lawn service mogul through no fault of his own. He is out mowing his own yard, when a neighbor spots him and hires him to mow his lawn. Come to find out the man who mows the neighborhood yards has angered the neighbors and they all want to hire the young lawn boy. Pretty soon, he has more jobs than he can handle. Then he meets Arnold, a hippie stock broker, who hires him to mow his lawn in exchange for stock tips. He invests the money he would have paid Lawn Boy instead of giving him cash. In a chapter entitled "Capital Growth Coupled with the Principles of Product Expansion," Arnold suggests that Lawn Boy hire migrant workers to help him expand his business. When the investments Arnold has made for him are wildly successful, Lawn Boy finds himself sponsoring Joey Pow, a rising prize fighter, who becomes his muscle. In "Force of Arms and Its Applications to Business," Joey has to help Lawn Boy fend off a villain trying to shake him down. At the end of the day Lawn Boy finds himself a little bit wiser and a half million dollars richer.
The sequel Lawn Boy Returns takes up where its predecessor ends, but Lawn Boy is now experiencing the problems that come with business expansion. In addition to tax problems and an unruly bunch of employees, he now has unwanted fame which is threatening his sanity. All he wants to do is go back to mowing lawns and being a kid, but that now seems to be an impossiblity. For those of you who enjoy fun filled quick reads with some entertaining lessons on the side, these books are a "wise investment" of your time!