The Year Money Grew on Trees

by Aaron Hawkins

Jackson’s neighbor offers to deed him the neglected apple orchard between their... read more

Jackson’s neighbor offers to deed him the neglected apple orchard between their homes if Jackson makes it productive and pays her $8,000 from his profits. At fourteen, Jackson is naïve enough to think he might be able to do it and convinces his two younger sisters and three cousins to work for a share of the money they’ll make. But from the moment he strikes the deal Jackson is full of doubt that borders on dread. He knows nothing about growing apples. As he learns—from a book, from a taciturn Sunday School teacher who turns out to be a quiet champion of his efforts, and through trial and error—he must manage complex logistics and an entertainingly unpredictable work crew, devote every spare minute and more of his time to hard physical labor, and acknowledge the very real possibility that the neighbor has no intent of honoring her obligation, IF he succeeds. But Jackson’s growing sense of pride, and the connections he makes to the land and to the people who help him, turn out to be the best part of the bargain in this satisfying story set in the 1980s. There’s an old-fashioned sensibility to the novel, and if the ultimate outcome seems a bit too good to be true, getting there is a pleasure. (Ages 9–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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