Millions

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It was a one-in-a-million chance. A bag crammed with cash comes tumbling out of the air and lands right at Damian's feet. Suddenly the Cunningham brothers are rich. Very rich. They can buy anything they want. There's just one problem ? they have only seventeen days to spend all the money before it becomes worthless. And the crooks who stole the cash in the first place are closing in ? fast.

A funny, brilliantly clever and utterly thrilling ...

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Overview

It was a one-in-a-million chance. A bag crammed with cash comes tumbling out of the air and lands right at Damian's feet. Suddenly the Cunningham brothers are rich. Very rich. They can buy anything they want. There's just one problem — they have only seventeen days to spend all the money before it becomes worthless. And the crooks who stole the cash in the first place are closing in — fast.

A funny, brilliantly clever and utterly thrilling debut novel that is, quite simply, unforgettable.

After their mother dies, two brothers find a huge amount of money which they must spend quickly before England switches to the new European currency, but they disagree on what to do with it.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Two brothers get their hands on a case full of cash -- and are out to spend it before it becomes worthless -- in this thrilling novel from author Frank Cottrell Boyce. Filled with English-set action and cool suspense, Boyce's debut novel for younger audiences follows Anthony and religious saints–obsessed Damian Cunningham, who come upon a hoard of cash that mysteriously lands at their feet. Because of the looming replacement of the British pound by Euro currency, Anthony and Damian realize they have only 17 days to spend the money before it's taken out of circulation. The trouble for these two boys? Getting rid of money fast enough isn't as easy as it sounds, and they soon learn that thieves are on the prowl to reclaim their lost treasure. Boyce has served an absorbing, fast-paced read that will keep you turning the pages until the end. With clever, dry wit and atypical characters, the book rises above other mundane action novels and will appeal to fans of Gordon Korman and Cornelia Funke. Without a doubt, Boyce has hit the jackpot with this one.
Publishers Weekly
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.
Children's Literature
Damian Cunningham and his brother Anthony are British adolescents with attitudes and concerns typical to their age. They figure that their widowed father rarely notices what is going on in their lives but wish to please him, they want to do well in school, they philosophically watch the lunchroom bully nab their Pringles on a daily basis. Throw in a web site named "totallysaints.com," Damian's preoccupation with being as excellent as those saints and a large bag of money that falls off a freight train then see what happens. Add to this the fact that in seventeen days the Euro is replacing English currency rendering their windfall useless and you have a compelling, sometimes funny sometimes bittersweet book by this first-time novelist. Although Boyce is slow getting started with the plot, he has included situations any older elementary or YA reader will identify with: losing a parent, moving, classroom dynamics, worry that your brother or father will embarrass you plus the fantasy we all have about what we would do if a bagful of money dropped in our laps. 2004, HarperCollins, Ages 10 to 15.
—Judy Crowder
VOYA
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. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, HarperCollins, 272p., and PLB Ages 11 to 15.
—Patrick Jones
School Library Journal
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.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Stunningly original…the concept is immediately booktalkable and the telling is riveting; a book of such wealth—of any kind—is valuable indeed.”
London Sunday Times
“Written with charm and humor, this is a touching, absorbing oddity of a book about love, grief, avarice, and generosity.”
Time Out New York for Kids
“Seek out this gold-standard novel as a possible gift for lottery-winner hopefulls of all ages.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Sweet, fast-paced, and funny.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
“Stunningly original…the concept is immediately booktalkable and the telling is riveting; a book of such wealth—of any kind—is valuable indeed.”
Time Out New York
“Sheer fun. Seek out this gold-standard novel as a possible gift for lottery-winner hopefuls of all ages.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“Stunningly original…the concept is immediately booktalkable and the telling is riveting; a book of such wealth—of any kind—is valuable indeed.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Stunningly original…the concept is immediately booktalkable and the telling is riveting; a book of such wealth—of any kind—is valuable indeed."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“Stunningly original…the concept is immediately booktalkable and the telling is riveting; a book of such wealth—of any kind—is valuable indeed.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061451263
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/29/2008
  • Language: English, Middle (1100-1500)
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 5Cds, 4 hr. 30 min.
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank Cottrell Boyce is the author of two other books for children: Framed and Millions, which was made into a movie by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle. He lives in England with his family.

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First Chapter

Millions

Chapter One

If Anthony was telling this story, he'd start with the money. It always comes down to money, he says, so you might as well start there. He'd probably put, "Once upon a time there were 229,370 little pounds sterling," and go on till he got to, "and they all lived happily ever after in a high-interest bank account." But he's not telling this story. I am. Personally, I like to start with the patron saint of whatever it is. For instance, when we had to write about moving house for Literacy Hour, I put:

Moving House

by Damian Cunningham,
Fourth Grade

We have just moved house to 7 Cromarty Close. The patron saint of moving house is St. Anne (first century). She was the Mother of Our Lady. Our Lady did not die but floated up into Heaven while still fairly young. St. Anne was upset. To cheer her up, four angels picked up her house and took it to the seaside in Italy, where it can be seen to this day. You can pray to St. Anne for help with moving house. She will watch over you, but not do actual removals. Anne is also the patron saint of miners, horse-riding, cabinetmakers andthe city of Norwich. While alive, she performed many wonders.

The patron saint of this story is St. Francis of Assisi (1181–1226), because it all sort of started with a robbery and the first saintish thing he ever did was a robbery. He stole some cloth from his father and gave it to the poor. There is a patron saint of actual robbers -- Dismas (first century) -- but I'm not an actual robber. I was only trying to be good.

It was our first day at Great Ditton Primary School. The sign outside says, "Great Ditton Primary -- Creating Excellence for a New Community."

"See that?" said Dad as he handed us our lunches and left us at the gates. "Good isn't good enough here. Excellence, that's what they're after. My instruction for the day is, 'Be excellent.' The instructions for supper I'll leave on the fridge door."

One thing about me is that I always really try to do whatever Dad tells me. It's not that I think he'll go off and leave us if we're a problem, but why take that risk? So I was excellent first lesson. Mr. Quinn was doing "People We Admire" for Art Hour. A huge boy with a freckly neck nominated Sir Alex Ferguson and listed all the football trophies United had won under his stewardship. A boy called Jake said players were more important than managers and nominated Wayne Rooney for individual flair. Mr. Quinn was looking around the room. To be educational about it, football was not taking him where he wanted to go. I put my hand up. He asked a girl.

"Don't know any footballers, sir."

"It doesn't have to be a footballer."

"Oh. Don't know, then, sir."

I used my other hand to hoist my hand up higher.

"Damian, who do you admire?"

By now, most of the others were into players versus managers.

I said, "St. Roch, sir."

The others stopped talking.

"Who does he play for?"

"No one, sir. He's a saint."

The others went back to football.

"He caught the plague and hid in the woods so he wouldn't infect anyone, and a dog came and fed him every day. Then he started to do miraculous cures and people came to see him -- hundreds of people -- in his hut in the woods. He was so worried about saying the wrong thing to someone that he didn't say a word for the last ten years of his life."

"We could do with a few like him in this class. Thank you, Damian."

"He's the patron saint of plague, cholera and skin complaints. While alive, he performed many wonders."

"Well, you learn something new."

He was looking for someone else now, but I was enjoying being excellent. Catherine of Alexandria (4th century) came to mind. "They wanted her to marry a king, but she said she was married to Christ. So they tried to crush her on a big wooden wheel, but it shattered into a thousand splinters -- huge sharp splinters -- which flew into the crowd, killing and blinding many bystanders."

"That's a bit harsh. Collateral damage, eh? Well, thank you, Damian."

By now everyone had stopped debating players versus managers. They were all listening to me.

"After that they chopped her head off. Which did kill her, but instead of blood, milk came spurting out of her neck. That was one of her wonders."

"Thank you, Damian."

"She's the patron saint of nurses, fireworks, wheel-makers and the town of Dunstable (Bedfordshire). The Catherine wheel is named after her. She's a virgin martyr. There are other great virgin martyrs. For instance, St. Sexburga of Ely (670–700)."

Everyone started laughing. Everyone always laughs at that name. They probably laughed at it in 670–700 too.

"Sexburga was Queen of Kent. She had four sisters, who all became saints. They were called -- "

Before I could say Ethelburga and Withburga, Mr. Quinn said, "Damian, I did say thank you."

He actually said thank you three times. If that doesn't make me excellent, I don't know what does.

I was also an artistic inspiration, as nearly all the boys painted pictures of the collateral damage at the execution of St. Catherine. There were a lot of fatal flying splinters and milk spurting out of necks. Jake painted Wayne Rooney, but he was the only one.

Millions. Copyright © by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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