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  • Lawn Boy Returns
  • Written by Gary Paulsen
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  • Lawn Boy Returns
  • Written by Gary Paulsen
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375896545
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On Sale: March 23, 2010
Pages: 96 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89654-5
Published by : Wendy Lamb Books RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis

Gary Paulsen’s funny follow-up to Lawn Boy is full of big surprises and big laughs.
 
Lawn Boy says: The summer I was twelve, mowing lawns with Grandpa’s old riding mower turned into big business. With advice from Arnold the stockbroker, I learned all about making money.
 
Six weeks and hundred of thousands of dollars later, life got more complicated. You see, the prizefighter I sponsor, Joey Pow, won a big fight. And a TV interview made me famous. As Arnold says, “Capitalism plus publicity equals monster commerce.” Even my best friends wanted a piece of the action. Meanwhile, some scary guys showed up at Joey’s gym. . . .
 

Excerpt

Paulsen: LAWN BOY RETURNS

1

The Origins of Economic Collapse

I sponsor a great fighter: Joseph Powdermilk, Jr. His nickname is Joey Pow.

My grandmother is the kind of person who always thinks the best of everyone. She’s also very big on family.

So when this guy Zed approached Grandma and Joey at the gym and said, “Hey, Joey! It’s Zed, your second cousin once removed,” Grandma was thrilled.

Joey couldn’t hear what the guy was saying because his ears were still ringing from his sparring partner’s accidental haymaker. Cousin Zed threw his arm around the still-reeling Joey. “I’m one a yer dad’s stepbrother Sam’s boys from his second or maybe his third marriage. Could be the seventh one, hard ta keep track a Sam, he’s always been what ya call a bad boy, gotta real taste for the ladies.”

Grandma beamed at Joey and Joey got all excited because Grandma looked so happy. Grandma hugged Zed and then Zed hugged Joey, and bam, faster than one of Joey’s knockouts, Zed had weaseled himself into becoming part of Joey’s family.

Over the past few weeks, Grandma and Joey have developed a great and unusual friendship, even though they don’t appear to have much in common. She speaks really fast and he talks really slowly; he’s enormous and powerful, she’s small and gentle. But they’re both early birds, which is great because Joey likes to do his workouts at the gym in the morn- ing and Grandma likes to drink coffee and read the newspaper there to the sound of uppercuts to the chin and body punches.

Grandma’s learned a lot about boxing recently. I walked in on one of Joey’s training sessions the other day and saw her shadowboxing in the corner. She’s been pestering Joey to teach her to feint and jab. Joey likes to have someone look after him, fussing about whether or not he’s getting enough sleep and eating enough fiber and all those other grandmotherly things.

That morning, before Zed appeared, my mom and dad had left town for a few days to look at lakefront property up north; Arnold had told us that investing some of my earnings in land would be a good idea. Grandma was staying at our house to keep an eye on me while they were gone, so after Joey’s workout she brought Joey and Zed back to my house.

Zed’s broken-down pickup truck towed an ancient camper. He parked next to Joey’s old station wagon in our driveway.

Grandma is amazing and fun, but there are times when she makes no sense. Still, if you think really hard, you can usually figure out what she means. When she said, “I have always despised the taste and texture of olives,” and gestured to this dirty, hairy Zed person as he climbed out of his truck, I couldn’t figure out what Zed and olives had in common, but I got a bad feeling.

I think I have a good sense of whether or not a person can be trusted. For instance, I knew right off the bat that Arnold, my stockbroker, and Pasqual, my lawn-mowing business partner, were good guys. And even though Joey Pow is large and slightly terrifying in appearance, I appreciated his good qualities immediately.

I didn’t get the same vibe from Zed.

“Good ta meetcha.” Zed stuck his hand out and I forced myself to shake his grubby paw. “Yer granny tol’ me how ya sponsor Joey.”

“I did?” Grandma looked a little perplexed. “Oh well, it’s like I always say: people who are cut from the same cloth can’t see the forest for the trees.”

“I know a little somethin’ about the boxin’ biz.” Zed threw a few fake punches and zipped his feet back and forth like he was bobbing and weaving to avoid an opponent in the ring.

Grandma beamed at him. Joey wasn’t paying any attention; he was petting the neighbor’s cat. Next to the cat, Joey looked, as always, ginormous.

I turned back to Zed, who had made himself comfortable in my mother’s lawn chair. He leaned back, farted once, burped twice and gave a mighty scratch in an area most parents urge toddlers not to touch in public. Charming. I moved upwind once I caught a whiff of him.

“So, uh, where do you live?” I asked.

“Oh, ya know, here ’n’ there. I was passin’ through town and heard about my cuz Joey from a buddy.”

“Uh-huh. What, exactly, did you hear?”

“I heard Joey’s gettin’ ready for a big fight. Bruiser Bulk—ain’t he the Upper Midwest heavyweight champ? From what I hear, Joey’s got a shot at takin’ the title.”

I looked over at Grandma and Joey. She’d put her hands up in front of her face and Joey was, very gently, tapping them with loose fists as she taunted him. “Is that all you’ve got? C’mon, let’s see some speed and power.” Never mind that if Joey so much as flicked her with his forefinger and thumb, he’d propel her into next week.

I looked back at Zed, who had been studying me with the same look that I see in the neighbor’s cat’s eyes when she watches baby birds learning to fly.

“I heard how ya got stinkin’ rich this summer.” Zed smiled, and I got a chill down my spine when I saw his teeth. They looked like he’d sharpened them with a file.

I thought: I’m not the only one who needs someone to keep an eye on them for the next few days.

“So, what do you do for a living?” I asked.

“Oh, ya know, this ’n’ that. I’m between jobs now an’ it seems to me Joey could use a good corner man, and who’s better to have on yer side than fam’ly? Plus I don’t go all squeamish at the sighta blood ’n’ guts.”

Uh-huh.

“Hey, bud.” Zed looked around and nodded. “Ya got a nice spread. Figger I can park my rig here? The parkin’ lot at Joey’s place don’t have much room.”

“You could, um, probably stay here while you’re in town. For a few days. I guess. Because Joey’s real busy getting ready for the fight.” And I’d rather have you where I can see you, I silently finished. Looking out for Joey’s interests was part of my sponsorship responsibilities.

“That’s real sportin’ of ya, pal, don’t mind if I do.” Zed looked way too happy about the chance to park in our driveway.

I broke up Grandma and Joey’s boxing lesson. “Zed’s going to park here for a few days.” Grandma didn’t seem to be bothered that we had just brought down the property values of the entire neighborhood by offering to host this rusted-out piece of garbage. Meanwhile, Joey helped Zed plug in the world’s longest extension cord from his camper to our garage.

Then Joey took off for his midmorning train- ing session (not to be confused with his early- morning workout and, of course, nothing like his late-morning weight lifting). Grandma went inside to rest her eyes (that’s what she calls taking a nap), and Zed—after blowing his nose without using a tissue, sending a snot rocket onto the perfectly mowed lawn—thumped up the step into his “rig” and started to fry up some roadkill he’d scraped off the interstate. At least that’s how it smelled.

And that was how the bad part started.
Gary Paulsen

About Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen - Lawn Boy Returns

Photo © Tim Keating

“We have been passive. We have been stupid. We have been lazy. We have done all the things we could do to destroy ourselves. If there is any hope at all for the human race, it has to come from young people. Not from adults.”—Gary Paulsen

A three-time Newbery Honor winner, Gary Paulsen is also winner of the 1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors an author’s lifetime contribution to writing books for teenagers.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Writing is so much a part of the way I live . . .

Writing is so much a part of the way I live that I would be lost without the discipline and routine. I write every day—every day—and it gives me balance and focus. Every day I wake up, usually at 4:30 a.m., with the sole purpose of sitting down to write with a cup of hot tea and a computer or a laptop or a pad of paper—it doesn’t matter. I’ve written whole books in my office, in a dog kennel with a headlamp, on more airplanes than I can remember, on the trampoline of my catamaran off the shores of Fiji—it never matters where I write, just where the writing takes me.

Everything else I do is just a path to get me to that moment when I start to work. Sometimes I’m lucky and the living part of life gets folded into the writing part, like with Dogsong and the Brian books and Caught by the Sea and How Angel Peterson Got His Name. Those books were based on personal inspection at zero altitude, I took experiences that I had and turned them into books. I’ve spent a great deal of time in the outdoors, but not with the specific goal of writing about it later. I’ll be honest, though, and tell you that I enjoyed writing about those times as much as, if not more than, I enjoyed living through those times in the first place. I didn’t start writing until I was 26 years old. I look back now and wonder what I thought I was supposed to be doing with my time before that.

I’ve experimented with different voices and styles . . .
Sometimes the way to tell a story is even more important than the story itself. I’ve experimented with different voices and styles and genres over the years. The Glass Café and Harris and Me were born of the voices of people I could not get out of my head. Tony was a boy I knew back when I lived in Hollywood and Harris was a cousin from my childhood. To honor their voices, I wrote the books in very different styles. Tony had a fast-paced, breathless speaking style and I had fun trying to capture that on paper. And the best way to paint a picture of Harris was to detail all those crazy stunts of his.

Nightjohn and Soldier’s Heart were the result of studying history. Sarny came from the research I did in the National Archives when I stumbled across the Slave Narratives. And I discovered Charley Goddard when reading a book about the Minnesota First Volunteers. I hadn’t expected to find characters for books of my own when I started reading, but I could not shake them until I tried to figure out on paper what their lives must have been like.

I am still amazed by the gifts that writing gives to me . . .
Even after all these years, I am still amazed by the gifts that writing gives to me. There is not only the satisfaction from the hard work—and even after all this time and all these books, it is still very hard work for me to make a book—and the way the hair rises on the back of my neck when a story works for me, but also the relationships I have made with the people who read my books.

The one true measure of success for me has always been the readers . . .
People ask me about the kind of money I make and how many awards I’ve received, but the one true measure of success for me
has always been the readers. I give the checks to my wife and my agent keeps the awards for me. The only thing I have in my office, other than junk and work and research, is a framed letter from one of my readers. That means more to me than just about anything else, the letters
I get from the people who read my books.

Thank you for reading my books and for writing to me. Read like a wolf eats. Read.

******************************

Born May 17, 1939, Gary Paulsen is one of America’s most popular writers for young people. Although he was never a dedicated student, Paulsen developed a passion for reading at an early age. After a librarian gave him a book to read—along with his own library card—he was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.

Running away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, Paulsen acquired a taste for adventure. A youthful summer of rigorous chores on a farm; jobs as an engineer, construction worker, ranch hand, truck driver, and sailor; and two rounds of the 1,180-mile Alaskan dogsled race, the Iditarod; have provided ample material from which he creates his powerful stories.

Paulsen’s realization that he would become a writer came suddenly when he was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California. One night he walked off the job, never to return. He spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader, working on his own writing every night. Then he left California and drove to northern Minnesota where he rented a cabin on a lake; by the end of the winter, he had completed his first novel.

Living in the remote Minnesota woods, Paulsen eventually turned to the sport of dogsled racing, and entered the 1983 Iditarod. In 1985, after running the Iditarod for the second time, he suffered an attack of angina and was forced to give up his dogs. “I started to focus on writing with the same energies and efforts that I was using with dogs. So we’re talking 18-, 19-, 20-hour days completely committed to work. Totally, viciously, obsessively committed to work, the way I’d run dogs. . . . I still work that way, completely, all the time. I just work. I don’t drink, I don’t fool around, I’m just this way. . . . The end result is there’s a lot of books out there.”

It is Paulsen’s overwhelming belief in young people that drives him to write. His intense desire to tap deeply into the human spirit and to encourage readers to observe and care about the world around them has brought him both enormous popularity with young people and critical acclaim from the children’s book community. Paulsen is a master storyteller who has written more than 175 books and some 200 articles and short stories for children and adults. He is one of the most important writers of young adult literature today, and three of his novels—Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room—are Newbery Honor Books. His books frequently appear on the best books lists of the American Library Association.

Paulsen has received many letters from readers (as many as 200 a day) telling him they felt Brian Robeson’s story in Hatchet was left unfinished by his early rescue, before the winter came and made things really tough. They wanted to know what would happen if Brian were not rescued, if he had to survive in the winter. Paulsen says, “I researched and wrote Brian’s Winter, showing what could and perhaps would have happened had Brian not been rescued.”

In Paulsen’s book, Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books, Paulsen shares his own adventures in the wild, which are often hilarious and always amazing: moose attacks, heart attacks, near-misses in planes, and looking death in the eye.

Paulsen has written a time-travel novel, The Transall Saga, which was named an ALA Quick Pick. And in the heartwrenching story Soldier’s Heart, Paulsen brings the Civil War to life battle by battle, as readers see the horror of combat and its devastating results through the eyes of 15-year-old Charley Goddard.

Paulsen and his wife Ruth Wright Paulsen, an artist who has illustrated several of his books, divide their time between a home in New Mexico and a boat in the Pacific. For more information about Gary Paulsen, visit www.garypaulsen.com


PRAISE


ALIDA’S SONG
“Readers will want to savor this stirring book.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

THE BEET FIELDS
“The ultimate coming-of-age story. . . . Exceptional and so heartbreakingly real.”—Starred, Booklist

BRIAN’S WINTER
“Paulsen crafts a companion/sequel to Hatchet containing many of its same pleasures. . . . Read together, the two books make his finest tale of survival yet.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

HOW ANGEL PETERSON GOT HIS NAME
“These episodes will not only keep young readers, of both sexes, in stitches, they’re made to order for reading aloud.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

MR. TUCKET
“Superb characterizations, splendidly evoked setting, and thrill-a-minute plot make this book a joy to gallop through.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

MY LIFE IN DOG YEARS
“A treat to make Paulsen fans sit up and beg for more. . . . His writing percolates with energetic love.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

SARNY
A Life Remembered
“A satisfying sequel. . . . It is a great read, with characters both to hate and to cherish, and a rich sense of what it really was like then.”—Starred, Booklist

SOLDIER’S HEART
“The novel’s spare, simple language and vivid visual images of brutality and death on the battlefield make it accessible and memorable to young people.”—Starred, Booklist

THE TRANSALL SAGA
“A riveting science fiction adventure. . . . Captivating.”—Starred, Booklist

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