Sixth-grader Greg Kinton likes money, and he knows how to make it. He started taking over his older brothers' chores when he was a preschooler. By third grade, he'd decided that he wanted to be rich. By age 11, he had more than $3,200 in the bank, all earned himself.
The turning point of Lunch Money occurs when Greg notices how many extra quarters kids have on hand to spend at lunchtime. His biggest money-earner yet which soon turns into his biggest problem is launched when Greg starts making his own comic books, Chunky Comics, and selling them at school. The enterprise goes fairly well until his nemesis and neighbor, Maura Shaw, copies his idea and starts selling her own comic book, The Lost Unicorn. Before Greg can stop the competition, the principal has banned comics from the school.
Author Andrew Clements has yet another winner on his hands, and if you don't know this wonderful writer, you're in for a treat. He's written such award-winners as Frindle, The Landry News and The Report Card. Greg's competition with Maura is wonderfully told, the story of two sixth-grade enemies who learn to be friends the hard way. At first they hate each other, but nonetheless, they can't help respecting each other. Both are smart and competitive, and they've been at war since they pedaled their Big Wheels down opposite sides of the street. Their reconciliation and their eventual standing up to the principal and the school committee for their right to sell comic books is nicely fostered by their math teacher, Mr. Zenotopoulous, known as Mr. Z. As a former teacher and father of four, Clements knows kids and knows schools, and is one of their best chroniclers. He knows how to make children's dialogue sound real, not stilted, and he knows how to portray the maddeningly well-intentioned teachers and principals who can drive students crazy.
Lunch Money is fast-paced, touching and funny, and a great inspiration to any student interested in making comic books or starting his or her own business (there's even a little comic how-to lesson embedded in the text). In the end, Greg even learns something new about making money how good it can feel to give it away.