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 saintsobsessed 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.