For Ages
8 to 12

Jackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns is a part of the Jackson Jones collection.

Nothing but a big mess of trouble and weeds..

That's what Jackson Jones thinks of the garden plot his mother gives him for his tenth birthday. What happened to the basketball he's hoped and prayed for all year?

When Jackson comes up with a moneymaking scheme for the garden, it doesn't seem so bad after all. He even cuts his friends in on the action. But before long, Jackson finds out that friends and business don't always mix. When the neighborhood bully calls him "Bouquet Jones," Jackson is ready to give up. Maybe gardens don't belong in cities after all....

Winner of the first annual Marguerite de Angeli Prize.

An Excerpt fromJackson Jones and the Puddle of Thorns

An Excerpt from Jackson Jones and the Puddle of

        April 10.

        Jackson-Jones-Born-into-This-World Day. I was moving from nine to almost
        grown. Double digits. The Big 1-0. The Man (that's me) is TEN.

        My best friend, Reuben, was impressed. He's nine and counting. One hundred
        and thirty-two days till he's ten.

        "What ya going to get for your birthday?" he asked. He sketched the star
        on Captain Nemo's helmet. I was sprawled on his bed.

        I shrugged, acting cool. Like saying, "Oh, is it my birthday?"
        Acting like I didn't know Mama was rattling my favorite Red Velvet cake
        into the oven. HOPEFULLY wrapping a new basketball....

        "There's one more," said Mama.

        Mama held the envelope like a little white bird. Stuffed with money, I
        couldn't help thinking.

        "Ten years ago," said Mama, stroking the bird-money, "God gave me
        a present: my son, Jackson. Each year I grow prouder of him."

        I was cool, just taking it in. Thinking about slam-dunking my new b-ball.

        "I always wanted Jackson to have the kind of childhood I had," Mama continued.

        Wait a minute. Mama had no basketball in that country childhood. Her best
        friend lived seven miles away.

        Mama handed me the envelope. Her eyes were all misty-happy.

        "Jackson, I hope you enjoy this gift as much as I enjoyed mine as a girl."

        Forget slooowwly. I snatched the envelope. Clawed the flap.

        I drew out the card. Opened it.

        I couldn't believe what I saw.

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