Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Year Money Grew on Trees by Aaron Hawkins

Imagine being fourteen years old and signing a contract to pay the property owner $8,000 at the end of the apple season after the harvest?  Would you do it?  Or would you rather work at Slim's Scrap Yard for practically no wages?

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published this book in hardcover in September.  I downloaded an ARC ebook from Net Galley to read for review.  (Thanks to both of you!)

What first caught my eye about this story is that it is based in New Mexico - which is where I live.  I always enjoy reading stories that show me a little more of life in other parts of this state.  Farmington is in the northwestern part of New Mexico, near the Arizona border and an Indian reservation.

Mr. Hawkins chose an unusual approach to this story.  It reads a bit like a story from the depression because that's what it's like for folks in small New Mexican towns.  Jobs aren't easily available, and there's not an awful lot of opportunity to make money.  So Jackson decides that since the landowner told him he can make $20,000 on a crop of apples, what's $8,000 for her?  Unfortunately, he did no research on what kind of supplies he might need or just how much work it took to keep an orchard up and harvest it.

Jackson has family to help him, so he promises to share percentages of his "profits" with them.  It's heartwarming to watch the children each do what they can do to help the orchard.  Jackson gets a book on growing apples and gleans what knowledge he can from a nearby neighbor.  It's a lot of hard work with long hours and they all chip in.  Unfortunately, the crop doesn't bring in the dollar value Mrs. Nelson quoted...

As your young one reads, there are mathematical equations included to show how they figure out how much pesticide they should buy, how much to sell their apples for, etc.  They will also learn about farm equipment used on the trees or ground.  And Jackson will teach them a few things, too.

This reads like a classic story, and I enjoyed it.  Why not pick up a copy at your local bookstore for your own budding entrepreneur and give him/her some insight on the challenge of taking on something new when you know nothing about it.  Happy reading!

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