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Wednesday, February 14

Payback on Poplar Lane

The boys have been working on their Entrepreneurship Badges for Boy Scouts - see more on that here - and so when we discovered this book, it was the perfect read aloud for the week!

Payback on Poplar Lane (Margaret Mincks)
ABC's Shark Tank meets The Terrible Two when a pair of sixth grade entrepreneurs compete to become top mogul on their block.

Twelve-year-old Peter Gronkowski prides himself on being a professional businessman. Tired of the clich├ęd lemonade stands that line his block, he decides to start a better business with the help of an intern. But his intern of choice, the quiet and writerly Rachel Chambers, turns out to be more than he bargained for. Rachel is innovative, resourceful, driven--and when she's had enough of Peter's overbearing management style, she decides to start a competing empire next door. As their rivalry and sabotage tactics become more outrageous--Slander! Espionage! Lemonade threats!--Peter and Rachel ultimately learn the hard way that "nothing gold can stay" and that friendship is more important than money.

Alternating perspectives reveal what really motivates each character to win. And Peter's memos and "business tips" as well as excerpts from Rachel's melodramatic novel-in-progress generate fresh hilarity and tension at every page turn. Payback on Poplar Lane is a pitch-perfect comedy with heart, reminiscent of your favorite classic middle-grade series.

Our Thoughts
While a middle school book, it has enough hijinks in it to interest an adult...hearkening back toward days of youth.  I like that it's told from multiple perspectives, such that we are able to see the reasoning behind both Peter's and Rachel's actions.  It brings up questions of ethics and how to handle certain situations, sparking family conversations about character.  Each of the main characters has a cross to bear; one feels as though she's hiding in plain sight and wants to become more visible, while the other is so money-driven that he loses focus of the important things in life.  While I'm not sure how realistic the ending is, it is at least idealistic and teaches some character lessons.
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