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Max and the Millions Paperback – 1 Mar 2018
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A fast-paced and enjoyable adventure that encourages readers to appreciate the small things in life. (Kirkus)
Montgomery brings his characteristic originality and quirk to a school based story about a boy who discovers a secret civilisation of tiny people. (Bookseller)
Deeply silly but clever story . . . the familiar Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-esque slapstick works well to tie everything together. (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)
A delightful whiff of Monty Python . . . Ross Montgomery's writing is often pure Douglas Adams. (SFX)
Totally off-the-wall story and is characteristic of the vivid imagination that we've come to associate with Ross Montgomery. The world building is superb. (The Bookbag)
A funny, well plotted tale. (Sunday Express)
Marvellously funny and original . . . it's the tiny details that make the story work. (Financial Times)
The plot is delightfully daft and complemented by many subtle social comments about inequality, the abuse of power and the futility of war. (BookTrust)
'An inventive and funny adventure.'
'This clever story reminds us all that small things matter too.'
From Costa-shortlisted superstar, a highly anticipated standalone adventure about what happens when you find a tiny, living, breathing civilization on the floor of your school dorm room.See all Product description
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This is a wonderful story about friendship, looking deeper and more carefully at what’s around you and I will be recommending this to my Year 5 class, although it’s equally suitable for younger and older readers. I loved it.
Max is a lonely deaf boy who uses hearing aids and finds it difficult to communicate and make friends with the other boys at his boarding school. His only friend is the useless school caretaker, Mr Darrow, who shares his love of building intricate models.
When Mr Darrow disappears, and has still not reappeared at the end of the summer holidays, Max begins to worry. Escaping the Sparkle Unicorn Club for little girls which has been hosted by the school over the summer, Max goes to Mr Darrow's room and discovers a tiny civilisation has come to life and grown all over Mr Darrow's room. But the miniature world is on the brink of war and Max must team up with his roommate Sasha and tiny King Luke to save the miniature world from the school's horrible headmaster.
This book was ridiculous fun! With sugar-crazed five-year-old-girl army, noble steed fleas, carrot thefts, sparkle-unicorn onesies, and a headmaster I would love to have pushed into a dustbin, Max's adventure is all kinds of hilarious. It also does a nice job of outlining some basic deaf awareness skills and some of the difficulties that deaf children face. I especially loved how receptive Sasha was to some of these things and the little nods to how the two boys adapted their communication to ensure both understood each other. I would definitely have preferred Max to have sign language knowledge or have used alternative communication with Sasha (such as writing) rather than him having lip-reading superpowers that enabled him to understand basically everything Sasha said (that's very unrealistic - only about 30% of speech can be lipread, and that's without accents coming into the mix). It's also rather inappropriate to have the hearing kid teaching the d/Deaf kid to sign. Despite this, I enjoyed how Max's hearing aids were an important part of the story and the focus on him making friends and developing confidence in himself and his ability to communicate. Sasha was wonderful, as was his sister and her sparkle-unicorn minions.
The plot was fast-paced, taking place mostly over the space of one day. It's packed full of humour and little nods to pop culture. I loved how Montgomery developed the miniature world and its scaled-down sense of history and cultural dynamics. I unfortunately couldn't get behind the ending. For a book with central themes of friendship and loyalty, Max's decision at the end came across as pretty selfish and unnecessary to me, even if Sasha was shown to be cool with it. It just seemed very hypocritical and against all the themes throughout the book. However, it was still a very enjoyable book. I'm not sure if this will be the start of a series, but I kind of hope it will be.
With some similarities to both The Indian in the Cupboard (morality of wielding power over those smaller than yourself) and Horton Hears a Who (tiny world and believing in the impossible), Montgomery has conjured up a modern-day setting - a pretty posh school - and an 'everyboy' - Max, with his hearing aids and penchant for building tiny models, just wanting to be left alone.
Max's school treats him as somebody apart, he hates being made to stand out, to feel inferior due to his deafness. He has no friends, apart from the school caretaker, with whom he shares a passion for designing and building small models. When Mr Darrow suddenly goes missing, Max checks on his room and finds a tiny boy model... who is alive. And a whole civilisation of other tiny people alongside him...
Excellent premise, totally involving, and much more clever than the above would suggest. The historical documents of the Floor are great satire, the story of the warring factions and their place within Max's world gives a new perspective on his own problems.
This will make children think a lot about the size of things, the interpretations and different viewpoints in a situation. Max's size gives him a new stature to the Floor people, their world is seen as something tiny and insignificant by some full-size characters.
I loved the summer school group (I won't spoil it, but they are hilarious), and the two best-characterised Floor people have a predictable relationship and story arc but it works alongside other fresh features.
The ending, I wasn't sure about, but I did come to terms with Max's decisions and saw his reasoning. It fitted.
Fantastic premise, nice to have a hearing impaired hero, loved the multi-perspective narrative. This would make a really effective children's TV series.
I read this as a librarian but would try it with my 7-year-old in a year or two, I think some of the humour is a little old for him just yet. I would recommend this to ages 9-13.
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