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4.0 out of 5 stars Too Small To Fail, 12 Sep 2011
Sarah (Feeling Fictional) (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Too Small To Fail (Paperback)
Oliver's parents both work long hours at an investment bank and are so busy making money that they hardly have any time for him. Oliver isn't worried about having all the latest gadgets that money can buy though, he would just like them to spend time together as a family and he would really like a pet dog. He spends his time watching a dog through a pet shop window trying to come up with ways to convince his parents to let him bring the dog home. When a lady buys the dog and threatens to harm him if Oliver doesn't get his parents to return the money she invested with them he doesn't think things can get much worse. Until he discovers that there is a problem with the bank and he realises the money has been lost. Can he find a way to repay the lady and save the dog?

I really enjoyed Morris Gleitzman's last book Grace so was looking forward to reading Too Small To Fail. I'm pleased to say that the story doesn't disappoint and I enjoyed it just as much. Morris Gleitzman has a way of writing that will capture the attention of younger readers, he writes about current events in a humorous and light way but still manages to offer a lot of insight into the financial crisis. I loved the way he manages to talk about investment banking in a way that will make sense to even the youngest readers and I think even adults can learn something from the story.

Oliver is a lovely main character, he is young and in some ways naive but he is sweet, loves his family and has a strong sense of right and wrong. He may be hopeless at maths and come up with some crazy money making schemes but he is trying to correct his parents mistakes. The story is hilarious, partly due to the things that Oliver gets up to but also with thanks to the antics of the dog Bailey and Moo the camel, I actually laughed out loud several times when I was reading it.

Like Grace, Too Small To Fail is a relatively short book and one that it is easy to read in one sitting. It is a fun story with a serious edge to it and a strong moral undertone. I definitely need to start working my way through the rest of Morris Gleitzman's back list and am looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 12 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Too Small To Fail (Paperback)
I found it difficult to leave down it was a great story and it was very absorbing. Held your interest right through
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully heartfelt, 22 Aug 2012
This review is from: Too Small To Fail (Paperback)
Too Small to Fail is set in Australia amid a climate of global financial crisis. That sounds like a heavy read, doesn't it?! But actually, this book is full of spirit and panache and problems that are much more relatable to children and young people.

Oliver's parents are investment bankers and they work long hours. Oliver knows they love him dearly but he is lonely. The housekeepers who take care of him are often fired by him mum. She wants a superwoman to be there when she can't be. There is nothing Oliver would like more in the world than the puddle-eyed dog in the shop window. He goes and watches Barclay every day while the housekeeper is in the supermarket. The day the story begins Oliver's life changes forever. A familiar looking lady buys Barclay and persuades Oliver that she needs his help to get the dog home. He goes with her for Barclay's sake and when she threatens to kill his beloved dog if she doesn't get her money back; Oliver is determined to do whatever it takes to save his furry friend.

Oliver is instantly likeable. He is surrounded by rich luxurious things but he's neglected in terms of loving contact. He's parents are just so busy and he doesn't want to worry them. At school he is friendless and his troubles are compounded by his difficulties understanding maths. From the outset, I was cheering Oliver on and hoping against all the odds that he could save Barclay.

There are so many reasons that this is an excellent book. There is great characterisation but there is also the authenticity of the child's viewpoint. Reading Too Small to Fail, I was taken aback by Gleiztman's skill as a writer - he communicated the complicated world of investment banking into language and experiences that are familiar to children. I was impressed to say the least. This book would be an excellent choice for a children's book group. There are so many potential discussion questions: Does money make us happy? Should we keep the money we earn? Why do we use banks? What does it mean to invest in somebody? Should the wealthy help the poor? How can we tackle poverty?

I also think this book is a really valuable book for children's emotional literacy. The loneliness that Oliver experiences is a very real and troubling experience for children when their parents are both working. Having the opportunity to read about these feelings and similar experiences, will enable children to express their own worries and help to address them.

Who knew a story about a lonely boy, a loveable dog, a sturdy camel, an angry girl, investment banking, and a global crisis could be so outstanding?! Too Small to Fail is heartfelt and captivating. It's a special little book and I hold it in the highest regard. Perfect for readers 8+.

Recommended for fans of:

· Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Sweet, Funny, Addictive Book That Had Me Up Late Just To Finish It, 4 Nov 2011
This review is from: Too Small To Fail (Paperback)
4½ Out of 5
Oliver's parents are incredibly rich, and busy with their bank. Oliver doesn't care about money. All he wants is the dog behind the glass at the pet shop. So when a lady comes along and buys the dog, he doesn't think it can get any worse. Until she threatens him (the dog-him; not Oliver-him). Apparently his parents took her money and she wants it back. If Oliver doesn't get her money for her in one week, the dog dies. Then... it gets even worse. It turns out that the woman has sixteen camels who may die from lack of water. And it's all his parents' fault! What will Oliver do, and how on earth can he save those innocent camels from dying?
This was my first Morris Gleitzman book, and I can honestly say I absolutely adored it! We all know that when some adults write as `children', it feels fake, forced. With Gleitzman's book, on the other hand, I could actually feel Oliver's age, his innocence. I looked through his eyes, and saw the world just as a ten-year-old would. Somehow, Gleitzman managed to create a believable voice narrating a funny, sweet, yet somehow serious story. It was addictive, humorous and I stayed up late especially to finish it.
Oliver was such an amazing lead. He was practical, intelligent, slightly naive and bad at maths. He had this way of seeing things, and coming to sensible conclusions, no matter how insane and unbelievable they truly were after the fact. Oliver had a strong moral compass, which is something that - in my opinion - every good hero should have. But no one took him seriously: he was always worrying too much, or just had an overactive imagination. All he wanted to be respected by parents who were there for him more. Oliver was so sweet, young and innocent; seeing the crisis through him was absolutely intriguing.
The other characters were perfect as well. Nancy, who appeared to be bad in the beginning, but turned out to just be desperate. Her daughter Rose, whose obvious loathing of Oscar was almost amusing at times; though that may just have been the ways she expressed herself. How many girls march into someone else's school, just to punch them in the stomach? And I loved Barclay: the little dog who was the only solid thing Oliver longed for. Oh, and Moo. She was cute when she wasn't stamping on peoples' heads.
Gleitzman managed to explain the economic crisis in a way that everyone can understand, no matter how young they are. With statements such as "big bikkies" and "in the poo", he even managed to make the crisis fun, odd as that may be. And, although it's aimed at middle-grade readers, Too Small to Fail easily crosses over into adult fiction. After all, it is about an adult problem, and they may even learn something valuable from the book: I know I did!
The story line was so strong, there were completely unexpected twists, and a very powerful moral undertone. It was also absolutely hilariously funny: there's something about Gleitzman's writing style, I think. However, family loyalties played a major theme: how far should you go to do the right thing - even if it means hurting the ones you love? Plus, the plot was so ridiculous, it was almost believable. And, yes, I am aware of how strange that sounds, but if you read the book, you may understand what I mean. All I'm certain of is that I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for more of Gleitzman's books from now on!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, moving and an education in finance, 15 Sep 2011
This review is from: Too Small To Fail (Paperback)
This is a really good ensemble novel. There is a main character, Oliver, and his desire to be reunited with his (sort of) dog who has been (sort of ) kidnapped is at the heart of the story. But other characters also shine through: Haydn, the disappointed banker; Rose, the stroppy camel-farmer; even the long-line of short-lived housekeepers.
Each character brings a new angle, both to Oliver's story and to our understanding of the complexities of the international banking system (really).
This book is very entertaining and deserves to be much-read on Wall Street.
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Too Small To Fail
Too Small To Fail by Morris Gleitzman (Paperback - 4 Aug 2011)
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