Monday, November 8, 2010

Review - The Year Money Grew on Trees by Aaron Hawkins (4/5 stars)

The Year Money Grew on TreesReading level: Middle Grade/Young Adult
Genre: General Fiction
Size: 304 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Release Date: October 6, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0547279770
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: From for review
Rating: 4/5 stars

I got this as an e-book through NetGellay to review.  I originally saw it through Amazon vine, but I picked something else when I went back to pick this book the next week it was gone.  I am not sure what drew me to this book, it just sounded really interesting and peaked my curiosity.  Overall it was a good book, well-written and full of both good messages and some light humor.

Jackson agrees to a proposal by his neighbor, who is an old conniving lady.  He will bring her orchard back up to life; if he can clear $8000 in profits by the end of the growing year than he gets the deed to the land the orchard is on.  Jackson enlists the help of his siblings and cousins.  The group of kids learns a lot about growing apples, responsibility, and a ton about hard work.

The story is set in the 1980's and has a bit of 80's nostalgia about it; some of the fads were amusing to me and brought back some funny memories (I was a kid in the 80's).  The detail that went into growing the apples in the apple orchard was very interesting and I was impressed with the research that went into writing this story.

Jackson is a great character and you can't help but love his resourcefulness.  I also love how much he started caring about the orchard as he worked on it.  The relationships he forms with the other kids during their summer of hard labor is wonderful.  It is a great story about family, friends, hardwork, and entrepreneurship.

The writing is well done and the story is an easy read.  It ends up being very engaging; the reader is constantly wondering if Jackson will hit his $8000 goal by the end of the book, if the old neighbor woman will stick to her contract, and if Jackson's siblings and cousins will stick with it long enough to see results.  It is a very straightforward story, no twists and turns.  I kept waiting for something drastic or dramatic to happen, and it never really does.

This is a wonderful story about taking responsible and making something out of nothing.  The story ends well and is mostly positive.  There are a few things that were a bit odd; for example a lot of time is spend talking about how sick the kids get from using pesticides to spray the trees and the kids also sustain a number of injuries from the work they do in the orchard.  Other than that the story is appropriate for all ages and teaches a wonderful lesson.

Overall a great story that is engaging, well written, and explores valuable lessons for kids.  It was pretty outside the genre that I usually read and I still enjoyed it.  Definitely a story everyone can relate to, hopefully it will inspire the middle grade reading set to pursue their own dreams of business ownership!

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
- The Debut Author Challenge

The Year Money Grew on Trees 

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