Reviews for Millions


Booklist Reviews 2004 August #1
Gr. 5-8. Would a lot of money be an answer to your prayers? Damien, a young expert on patron saints, thinks so after he finds 229,370 pounds sterling in a bag thrown by robbers from a passing train. With only a few short weeks until Euro Day, the day the "Great British Pound" would be replaced by the euro, Damien and his older, fifth-grade brother begin spending like daft nutters. The schoolyard economics quickly change, and soon adults are looking for the source of the cash--not to stop the flow, but to get in on the action. Naturally, the thwarted robbers are looking for their loot. The characters and their sometimes comical antics are as original, quirky, and compelling as in Hilary McKay's Exiles books, but the mood here is tempered by the recent death of the boys' mother. The point of view is solidly Damien's as he struggles to cope with his grief, be good, and find an ethical use for the money. Visits from saints guide him, and his faith in goodness helps him and his family to heal. An engaging possibility for reading aloud. ((Reviewed August 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
As Britain prepares to adopt the Euro, Damian finds over 200,000 pounds sterling, thrown from a train during a robbery. Somewhat eccentric Damian (he has visions of saints) and his brother, still grieving over their mother's recent death, debate what to do with the money and try to evade one of the robbers. This fresh, funny wish-fulfillment story both entertains and satisfies. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 July #1
This amusing story of a boy who finds a fortune in cash tackles the moral dilemmas he faces while maintaining a gentle comic narrative. Fifth-grader Damian becomes obsessed with saints after the death of his mother. When a bag of money falls off a train near his house, he thinks it's been sent by God. But it's British pounds sterling, scheduled to be burnt when the UK changes its currency to Euros. Damian and his older brother have only a few weeks to dispose of the loot before it becomes worthless. Damian wants to give it to the poor in imitation of his saints, while the always mercenary Anthony intends to spend it. Clueless, debt-ridden Dad doesn't find out about the money until just before the exchange deadline. The gentle British humor lies under the surface here, making the story a joy for readers of all ages. (Fiction. 11-14) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 August #4
How would you spend a lot of money fast? That's the irresistible premise of this witty and poignant first novel by a British screenwriter. Damian and Anthony Cunningham have moved to a new neighborhood with their loving but overwhelmed father, following their mother's death. (A mention that their old house is still on the market because of "what happened there" suggests suicide.) Anthony, a precocious fifth-grader plays on people's sympathy: "Tell them your mum's dead and they give you stuff." Damian, the beguiling fourth-grade narrator, is obsessed with saints and saintly behavior. He "mortif[ies] his flesh" by placing holly leaves under his shirt, and constructs his own makeshift "hermitage" near the railroad tracks. He's in this cardboard hideout when a bag containing more than a quarter-million pound notes drops from the sky. Damian believes it's from God. Anthony suspects otherwise but embarks on a spending spree fueled by a deadline the pounds will be worthless in 17 days, when England converts its monetary system to the Euro. Boyce gracefully weaves in many thought-provoking episodes. Anthony learns about inflation when he overpays for favors and toys at school. Damian follows St. Francis of Assisi's example by buying and setting free a pet store's worth of birds. The ending is sure to spark heated debate, as Damian comes to terms with the ubiquity of poverty and the dark side of human nature. The story starts slowly, but readers who stick with it will be racing to the finish to figure out who's conning whom. Brilliant. Ages 8-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 August #2
A fourth-grader finds a bag of cash that seemingly drops from the sky. In our Best Books citation, PW wrote, "The irresistible premise of this novel asks: How would you spend a lot of money fast? Readers will madly flip the pages to figure out the cash's true source." Ages 8-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 October
Gr 4-8-When fourth-grader Damian finds a bag full of cash by the train tracks, he and his brother try to spend it fast. The bills are all pounds, and England is just a few weeks away from converting to the euro, so anything they don't use will, in their minds, soon be worthless. This happy predicament sets up some excellent comic situations, including rampant inflation at the school yard and some suspiciously materialistic Mormons. But a lot more is going on than money-related antics. Damian, obsessed with the lives of the saints and a bit muddled about the real world, narrates with endearing naivet‚ and unintended deadpan humor. Fifth-grader Anthony has an endless supply of schemes, contrasting with his brother's more charitable sensibilities. Though their mother's recent death is not described until later, the boys' sense of loss permeates the story, and their instant fortune subtly leads them to a point where they can finally face their grief. Damian's encyclopedic knowledge of saints is hilarious at times, but also reveals his touching need for faith and reassurance. Supporting characters, including their dad and a shrewd female fund-raiser, have distinct personalities. The imagined 1998 monetary changeover may be confusing to American kids, who might assume the event really occurred, but readers should grasp the resulting need to act with dispatch. There's plenty of excitement as the deadline approaches and the brothers' secret becomes known, but the humor, the strong family story, and Damian's narrative voice make this satisfying novel succeed on several levels.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2004 October
From the great cover blurb-"What would you do with a million in cash?"-to the movie-like quick pacing to the quirky yet loveable young men at the center of this story, this novel should bring in that amount and more. This story is a real boy's fantasy-no dragons breathing hot fire, just cold, hard cash landing in the laps of brothers Anthony and Damian. Mom is gone and Dad tries, but Damian, who tells the story, gets his life lessons from totallysaints.com. The book starts slowly, but just as the shoe falls from the sky in Holes (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998/VOYA December 1998), here a bag of money from a train crashes into the boys' lives. On their own, they need to grapple with their good fortune-figuring out how to spend it, hide it, save it, or give it away-all before the end of the year. Supporting this plot is the funny voice of Damian, with a keen sense of the absurd As with other British imports, from Harry Potter to Louise Rennison, U.S. readers might struggle with some of the references, and the looming Euro deadline that figures heavily into the plot is going to puzzle some. This novel is a British version of Holes in tone, texture, and themes even if the plots and settings are oceans apart. With crisp writing and with the considerable publicity muscle of the publisher, this novel should be a hole in one for Boyce.-Patrick Jones PLB $16.89. ISBN 0-06-073331-4. 4P 4Q M J Copyright 2004 Voya Reviews.

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