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The Fox Inheritance: Mary E. Pearson

Flat Broke: Gary Paulsen

Book: Flat Broke: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Greed
Author: Gary Paulsen
Pages: 112
Age Range: 10-14

Flatbroke During the 48 Hour Book Challenge in June I read and reviewed Gary Paulsen's Liar, Liar, calling it: "a perfect read for reluctant middle school readers, especially boys". It was also a very quick read, and when the companion novel, Flat Broke, arrived on my doorstep, it went straight to the top of my to be read pile.

Flat Broke again features 14-year-old Kevin, a bright, energetic kid whose ideas sometimes get away from him. As Flat Broke begins, Kevin (being punished for the events of Liar, Liar) is an eighth grader in need of cash. He has a huge, stammering-inducing crush on a girl named Tina, and he needs money to be able to invite her to the school dance. When his fledgling attempts to earn money prove successful, Kevin decides that he might as well become a wealthy tycoon. He sets out to rapidly expand his efforts (cutting more than a few corners along the way). Hilarity ensues.

I didn't find Flat Broke quite as laugh-out-loud funny as Liar, Liar, but I liked Kevin even better in this book. Even as he's making questionable business decisions, he looks out for the little boy next door (who adores him). And although he's a bit of an operator, he's not afraid of hard work. He's the kind of kid that makes parents and teachers shake their heads ruefully, even as they feel a sneaking pride. The supporting characters in the book are excellent, too. Just quirky enough to be three-dimensional, without being overdone.

Here are a couple of quotes, to give you a feel for Kevin's voice:

"If you ask me, people who say you've got to work smart and not hard are just lazy." (Page 1)

"I could fill a week's worth of airtime with all my great ideas... But my parents are always going on about TV sucking the life out of a person's mind and depriving that person of IQ points, and I didn't want to start out my career disappointing my folks. Plenty of time for that later. When they can no longer ground me or take away my allowance." (Page 33)

And really, that's all you need to know. If you find Kevin's voice likable and entertaining, as I do, then you'll want to pick up a copy of Flat Broke. Like Liar, Liar, Flat Broke is a perfect read for middle school boys (and for the middle school boys lurking in the hearts of their dads, too). Highly recommended!

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.