Lunch Money

by Andrew Clements (Author) Brian Selznick (Illustrator)

Lunch Money
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Greg Kenton has always had a natural talent for making money -- despite the annoying rivalry of his neighbor Maura Shaw. Then, just before sixth grade, Greg makes a discovery: Almost every kid at school has an extra quarter or two to spend almost every day.
Multiply a few quarters by a few hundred kids, and for Greg, school suddenly looks like a giant piggy bank. All he needs is the right hammer to crack it open. Candy and gum? Little toys? Sure, kids would love to buy stuff like that at school. But would teachers and the principal permit it? Not likely.
But how about comic books? Comic books might work. Especially the chunky little ones that Greg writes and illustrates himself. Because everybody knows that school always encourages reading and writing and creativity and individual initiative, right?
In this funny and timely novel, Andrew Clements again holds up a mirror to real life, and invites young readers to think about money, school, friendship, and what it means to be a success.
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Publishers Weekly

Clements's ("Frindle") offers an uncharacteristically thin novel introducing a boy who excels at athletics and academics -and is a whiz at drawing -but whose "greatest talent had always been money." In preschool Greg did his older brothers' chores for pay; in nursery school he recycled his family's trash and kept the bottle and can deposit refunds; and by third grade he had "set himself a goal. He wanted to be rich." Now a fifth grader, Greg decides that "school would be an excellent place to make his fortune." Yet his business ventures selling candy and gum, novelty toys and homemade comic books land him in hot water with the principal. Though this young tycoon's ambitious aspirations and laughable arrogance are entertaining, the pace of the story slackens considerably at its midpoint, when Greg teams up with Maura, another talented artist and his longstanding rival, to launch a line of mini-comic books. Clements delivers a meaningful message about friendship, perseverance and proper priorities. But although Greg and Maura are likable and spunky, the detailed descriptions of how they create their debut books and petition the School Committee for permission to market them to fellow students grow tedious. Ages 8-12. "(July)" Copyright 2005 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 4-6 -Sixth-grader Greg Kenton has always had a talent for making money. His latest scheme, creating and selling miniature comic books, looks to be a success. However, problems arise when his classmate and longtime nemesis, Maura, competes with him by making her own mini-stories. Even worse, the principal, who believes that comic books are nasty and violent, bans their sale at school. Clements has created another clever, enterprising young protagonist in Greg, who, like Nick in "Frindle" (S & S, 1996), also finds inconsistencies in his school's regulations and works toward change. While his intentions at the beginning are purely entrepreneurial, his outlook on money transforms to the philanthropic as he fights for the right to sell his -Chunky Comics - to his fellow students. Also, his relationship with Maura takes a new turn as the two enemies pool their talents and find a way to get along. The characters are rich with interesting quirks and motivations, including Mr. Z, a blood-phobic math teacher. Along with providing a fast-paced and humorous story line, the author examines concepts of true wealth, teamwork, community mindedness, and the value of creative expression. Selznick's pencil sketches add comic touches throughout." -Carol L. MacKay, Camrose Public Library, Alberta, Canada" Copyright 2005 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"The characters are rich with interesting quirks and and humorous."

— "School Library Journal"

Andrew Clements
Andrew Clements (1949-2019) was the author of the enormously popular Frindle. More than 10 million copies of his books have been sold, and he was nominated for a multitude of state awards, including a Christopher Award and an Edgar Award. His popular works include About Average, Troublemaker, Extra Credit, Lost and Found, No Talking, Room One, Lunch Money, and more. He was also the author of the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School series. Find out more at
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date
July 20, 2005
BISAC categories
JUV019000 - Juvenile Fiction | Humorous Stories
JUV035000 - Juvenile Fiction | School & Education
JUV006000 - Juvenile Fiction | Business, Careers, Occupations
Library of Congress categories
Interpersonal relations
Cartoons and comics
Moneymaking projects
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award
Nominee 2007 - 2007
Keystone to Reading Book Award
Winner 2007 - 2007
Louisiana Young Readers' Choice Award
Nominee 2008 - 2008
Colorado Children's Book Award
Nominee 2008 - 2008
Charlotte Award
Nominee 2008 - 2008
Charlie May Simon Children's Book Award
Honor Book 2007 - 2008
Iowa Children's Choice (ICCA) Award
Nominee 2007 - 2008
Nene Award
Recommended 2010 - 2010
Young Hoosier Book Award
Nominee 2008 - 2008
Garden State Children's Book Awards
Winner 2008 - 2008
Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award
Second Place 2009 - 2009

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