This novel by Newbery Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis begins with a simple money transfer. Mr. Chickee, the genial blind man in the neighborhood, hands nine-year-old Steven a mysterious bill. It contains no fewer than 15 zeros. Could it be a quadrillion-dollar bill? Steven and his best friends, Russell and Zoopy the dog, are determined to find out. A hilarious detective story by author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Bud Not Buddy.
"Offering catchy lingo, bigger-than-life predicaments and an array of boldly drawn characters," wrote PW, "this book is well aimed at readers in search of an unconventional and comical brand of mystery." Ages 8-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
As the story opens, nine-year-old Steven sheds copious tears over the demise of his "best friend this week," while dubious government agents surround him. He then flashes back to the real beginning, when his friend, Mr. Chickee, gifted him with a strange-looking dollar bill, complete with 15 zeroes and an unfamiliar face. Priding himself on his detective skills, Steven is determined to crack the mystery. Initially sharing the bill only with seven-year-old Russell and his huge dog Zoopy, Steven eventually approaches his father, who declares it a fake quadrillion dollar bill with a picture of James Brown, Godfather of Soul. Steven's mother, however, sends father and son to the Treasury Department for further explanation. Enter Agent Fondoo, a bumbler whose top secret conversation (overheard by Steven) reveals that it is one of five "high denomination bills accidentally allowed into public circulation." Desperate for the bill, agents pursue Steven and Russell as they make their escape aboard Zoopy. In a crazy climax, Zoopy and Steven fall into a dam and Zoopy disappears, assumed dead (cut to opening chapter). In the end, Zoopy returns, Steven and Russell receive rewards, and several unresolved questions open the door for a potential sequel. Written in a breezy, tongue-in-cheek style, this wacky, original story featuring a resourceful and likeable African-American boy is fun-reading on many levels. One word of warning, though--some of the funniest bits may be over middle readers' heads. 2005, Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, Ages 11 to 15.
Gr 3-6-A humorous and exciting tall tale about nine-year-old Steven, who loves helping his blind neighbor, Mr. Chickee, run his errands. When the elderly man tells Steven he is going on a long trip, he gives the boy a present and tells him to keep it secret. When Steven finally opens the surprise, he finds a quadrillion dollar bill. With the help of his younger friend, Russell, and Russell's drooling, giant dog, Zoopy, Steven manages to evade the smarmy and slightly inept Agent Fondoo from the U.S. Treasury Department, who is desperately trying to get the bill back. Curtis piles the laughs on in this fast-paced mystery. The interactions between Steven and his dad, who uses every opportunity to educate his son (much to Steven's irritation); the dictionary whose copyright page constantly writes insults; and the boy's miraculous spying invention called the Snoopeeze 9000 all serve to give the novel a sense of whimsy and magical realism. Characters are very interesting but the plot is the important thing here. Curtis presents both adults and children as flawed but brave. This book will surely appeal to reluctant readers as well as anyone who wants to laugh and find intrigue and just a little bit of magic.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
When Mr. Chickee gives fourth-grader Steven Carter a special present, he sets in motion this first in a humorous series starring the Flint Future Detectives. Steven calls in the experts: Mom and Dad. Dad helps clear up the first mystery: It's a quadrillion-dollar bill, with the face of James Brown, godfather of soul. It's funny money, of course. But Mom isn't so sure. Secretly armed with a hidden amplifier, Steven goes with his father to visit a U.S. treasury agent. He learns that his bill is legitimate, but the government wants it back. Steven calls in reinforcements, his best friend Russell Woods and Russell's oversized dog, Zoopy. The story continues with a madcap chase in which the two boys ride the dog down a busy highway and Steven ends up doing the appropriate thing with the money, surviving a fall over the Flint River dam, but nearly losing Zoopy. The zany action will appeal to middle-grade readers and the fast pace makes for an excellent read-aloud. Another winner from a master storyteller. (Fiction. 8-11)