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*Flat Broke: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Greed* by Gary Paulsen - middle grades book review
Also by Gary Paulsen:

Road Trip

Paintings from the Cave: Three Novellas

Masters of Disaster

Lawn Boy

Lawn Boy Returns

Woods Runner


Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers

The Amazing Life of Birds: The Twenty-Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech
Flat Broke: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Greed
by Gary Paulsen
Ages 8-12 128 pages Wendy Lamb Books July 2011 Hardcover    

Beginning right where Liar, Liar left off, Gary Paulsenís Flat Broke is a very humorous continuation Kevinís life as a hardworking eighth-grader looking for ways to make money.

Heís lost his allowance, babysitting his neighbor now (for free), and his job at his auntís shop has also slowed down to almost nothing. Kevin needs money, for his social life and to impress the love of his life, Tina. Heís read about a boy who made a fortune mowing lawns (reference to Paulsenís Lawn Boy), but he does that at home, for free.

Kevin needs to approach his problem from a new perspective, so he reads a few books about business. As it turns out for Kevin, making money is easy if you know the right people and are willing to work hard. Kevinís business ventures are varied; he capitalizes on his friendsí and familyís strengths.

First he organizes a few poker games which have been going on for quite some time Ė only now they play for money, and Kevin takes a cut off the top. Other business ventures include scheduling his older sister with beauty appointments for her friends, cleaning out garages, selling brownies and other treats from a cart at night at the college campus, and scheduling tutoring sessions with his old project partner, Katie.

As anyone might predict, Kevinís busy life eventually comes crashing down all around him. When his mother finds out about the gambling, he gets in trouble for dumping trash, and his friends and family are simply tired of being taken advantage of.

This fun, short novel is perfect for reluctant readers who enjoy a light story with plenty of laughs and mishaps. Kevin is a very likable protagonist, but so are the supporting characters Ė especially his best friend, JonPaul (the jock and germaphobe) and his 4-year-old neighbor, Markie, who always seems to bring out the very best in Kevin.

Paulsenís narrative is amusing and grabs the readerís interest from the beginning. Kids will be able to directly relate to Kevin and his predicaments and will find themselves inspired by his hard work and learning, just a little, from his mistakes. One cannot help but wonder whatís next for Kevin, after heís served his punishment for this bookís adventures.
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  Kristine Wildner/2011 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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