Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Magical Mystery Tour--Seventh Stop

Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce is, without a doubt, the funniest dead mother story I can ever remember reading. I was laughing out loud and then wondering if there was something wrong with me because the poor kids' mother was dead. Then I read something else and laughed some more.

Millions is the seventh book I've read for The 48 Hour Book Challenge.

The book deals with two brothers who recently lost their mum--they're English. This is important because the marvelous plot hinges on England giving up the pound for the euro back whenever that happened. Recently, I know.

It also hinges on young Damian who is seriously, seriously into saints. He reads about them. He writes about them at school. He talks about them. He wants to live like them.

And he is visited by them. He is visited by wonderful, gritty saints.

He's got a fantastic brother in Anthony whose serious interest in money. I'm not saying he's greedy. He's knowledgable about it. When the kids come into some stolen money, he wants to buy a house as an investment!

Though Millions won the Carnegie Medal in 2004, I was only vaguely aware of it--mostly from seeing advertisements for the movie. Boyce wrote the screeplay for Millions before he wrote the novel. This is another book that was recommended by a couple of different people when I was looking for magical realism books for kids.

I almost didn't read Millions this weekend, though. One of the rules for The 48 Hour Book Challenge was that the books be for fourth grade and up. The cover for the hardcover that I read said "Grs 3 and up."

This book is so not for younger kids. It doesn't contain a lot of your traditional "adult" content, but the humor is very sophisticated. A lot of it is built around knowledge of saints. When Damian keeps asking adults about the significance of "virgin martyrs" and the adults suddenly have something else they need to talk about--that's a running joke that grown-ups will love. Will kids who, like Damian, aren't real clear on what a virgin martyr is get it?

I'm not saying no younger child will enjoy this book. But it definitely has a lot of adult appeal. In fact, this book definitely could be a cross-over book much like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. (Not that The Dog in the Night-time is funny.) For all I know it is.

This book would also be a terrific choice for a
Buy a Friend a Book Week purchase. I think I'm going to buy it for a family member.


ZG said...

I also was a huge fan of Millions!
I always wanted to recommend it in booktalks, but could never pinpoint the audience that would match up with it's quirky wonder.
I did recently see the movie - and though it is all right - as always, the book is SOOOOO much better.

Bibliovore said...

Hurrah! I loved Millions, Gail, especially the way that Bryce managed to make Damien talking to saints so normal and endearing, and not gaggingly cute, creepy, or religious.

P.S. The movie is great too, although they did cut a few bits out.

Unknown said...

erm, the UK still uses Pounds NOT Euros!

I haven't read "Millions", but I've read "Framed" by the same author where the plot is based around works of art being housed in a Welsh mine due to extreme flooding making most of London unihabitable - this wasn't based on real life either - it's just a plot device.