Friday, 23 November 2018

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 23rd November 2018: "MIllions" by Frank Cottrell-Boyce with illustrations by Steven Lenton (Macmillan Children's Books)

This week's Chapter Book of the Week may not be new, but it's new to us - and we absolutely loved it so here we are with "Millions" by Frank Cottrell-Boyce...
There is actually a very good reason why we're slightly late to the party (yes, OK, 14 years late to be precise) with "Millions" by Frank Cottrell Boyce (cover illustration by Steven Lenton).

This was one of the set texts for my recent "Writing for Children" course. With little over a week to dig into it, I picked up the kindle version and hoped I'd find some inspiration in here for my second assignment - "Write an adventure story".

I wasn't really sure if "Millions" qualified as an adventure. It's more comedic, and certainly feels like a story that will chime with a lot of folk.

I mean, what kid hasn't, at one point or another, imagined what it would be like to be absolutely ludicrously stinking rich.

Yes, OK, it probably doesn't work if you're already from a well-to-do family (Barron Trump, don't bother with this one, it'll be lost on you, son!) but this was the sort of daydream I had as a kid not too unlike Damian or Anthony in this story.

Damian and Anthony are definitely not rich. Not by any means, but they're just ordinary everyday kids.

Until something happens that changes their lives forever. Yeah I know what you're thinking, how many times have we read THAT blurb on the back of a kid's book.

But what happens to Saint-obsessed Damian and money-hungry Anthony might almost feel like divine intervention as one day they find a huge bag of cash. Old sterling, from before the time Ireland joined the Euro.

With little over a week before the money is utterly worthless, the two boys are faced with a moral dilemma. Hand the cash in to the police, so that it can be destroyed with the rest of the phased-out pounds? Or spend like the money is going out of fashion (which it is).

Child-like reasoning falls down on the 'spend spend spend' option, and thus begins a hilarious (and in places pretty dangerous) caper as Damian and Anthony try their best to spend £234,000 (not quite a million, but to a young kid that's still a huge wadge of dough).

The inventive ways that the two hapless youngsters try to burn through all the money is brilliantly described by Frank. Damian (obviously) feels like the money should be used for good causes, whereas Anthony just wants to buy as much junk as possible, eat as much pizza as possible, or perhaps even invest in property - after all there's always more money to be made in real estate than in buying 10,000,000 gobstoppers, right?

This was Frank's first children's book, and in places it feels like a bit of a ramshackle and disjointed mess with plot points criss-crossing over and almost falling over themselves in order to deliver the core message of money not always being the divine answer to everyone's problems that they might think it is. But despite the haphazard scattergun-ness of this, it's brilliantly relatable with so many nods to kid culture at the time - and of course that core theme that always begs the question "Well, what would YOU do if it happened to you?"

Marvellous - and yes, very inspirational for my own writing (which, truth be told, would be a lot like Frank's with tons of references and real-life-ness about it rather than being too fantastical).

"Millions" by Frank Cottrell Boyce, with illustrations by Steven Lenton, is out now, published by Macmillan Children's Books (self purchased - not provided for review).