ARC: Payback on Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks

CoverTitle: Payback on Poplar Lane 
Author: Twitter, Margaret Mincks Blog
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary, Realistic
Pages: Print 315
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Rating: ★★★★.5

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Penguin Young Readers as a part of Viking Publishing #partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from the publisher, some quotes may have been changed prior to publishing. 

Margaret Mincks_copyright Kelli Ward 2009Author Bio:

Margaret Mincks grew up the second oldest of eight kids. When she wasn’t swimming, acting, making up slightly disturbing songs, or filming B-movie parodies with siblings and friends, she was writing and illustrating stories. After graduating from the University of Virginia, she moved to Chicago to perform improvisational comedy with the iO Theater. She later worked at Spider, a literary magazine for six- to nine-year-olds, as an editor. Margaret has also written for children’s nonfiction series like Ripley’s Believe It or Not. She now lives in Florida with her husband, young daughter, and her Staffordshire bull terrier named Reesie.

Book Description:

“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 clichéd 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.”

Favorite Quotes:

“Business tip: you can be nice or you can be honest. Choose wisely.”

-One of Peter’s many business tips. I loved this tip. It is hard to emphasize in students on how to be honest without being rude.-

“Business tip: A strong person can admit weakness.”

– I encourage people to share this with others. Peter fails in this novel but he learns from his mistakes each time. He learns to adapt to each situation and grow.-

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I thought this book was adorable. I have heard about this book before its release. The idea of a young boy trying to support his family is a greats storyline. I enjoyed reading how Peter learned to build his own business and how he learned what is important in life, relationships. Peter provides these business tips throughout the novel to the readers. The author used this to connect with the reader, and I felt like Peter was giving me business tips this entire book. The character development and the back story created for Peter and Rachel provided an excellent basis for understanding their actions. I felt that Clover and Peter’s supplemental friends could have been developed more, but that did not take away from the overall message. I liked how Rachel struggle with finding her voice throughout the novel and also loved how the author developed Rachel to be an author in this book. Rachel’s form of escaping is by writing about a character that best describes her situation. Inserted in between a few chapters is excerpts from Rachel’s book about Cyrano. It was fascinating to see Rachel develop throughout the entire novel. I also felt the argument between Rachel and Clover was lackluster and could have been improved more. The author did a great job of showcasing the fact that people fail but you have to learn from your mistakes. Peter and Rachel both fail a lot in this novel, but each time they pick themselves up and try again. This is a great message to emphasize with any age group. The strategically placed business tips also added to the overall delivery of the clear message.  Also, kuddos to the author for making Rachel’s dad a librarian. That was a fantastic idea of enforcing the idea they could go to the library to get information.
I am a Youth Librarian and this book definitely made me want to share it with the young patrons that come into my library. The grade range for this novel is 6th and up, but you could give this book to an advanced 4th and 5th grade. I recommend adding this book to your collection. The message is clear, you should always discuss your issues, friendships are meaningful, and family is there to support you.

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