Max and the Millions by Ross Montgomery
|Max and the Millions by Ross Montgomery|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Z J Cookson|
|Summary: A totally off-the-wall story that combines a fast moving plot with some great characterisation and truly wonderful scenes. An absolute must-read for children aged between 8 and 12.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: March 2018|
|Publisher: Faber & Faber|
|External links: Author's website|
Ten year old Max likes being alone – it's easier than trying to cope with the feedback from his hearing aid when he's surrounded by loud noise or attempting to swivel his head fast enough to lip read when several people are speaking at once. However, when he discovers a civilisation of millions behind the door of the school janitor's room, Max has to learn to lead a team. Max finds a way to communicate with Luke, the tiny boy who's Prince (and almost King) of one of the three tribes now living on the floor of the caretaker's room. Supported by his roommate, Sasha, Max has to find a way to bring the three feuding tribes together and find a safe place for them to live before the school's Headteacher disposes of the little people for good.
As this brief summary indicates, this is a 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, particularly when we first meet the miniature civilisation shimmering beneath the bulb light. Adults may notice a few inconsistencies. For example, at one point Luke is described as a tiny boy, no bigger than a raison and yet he can ride around on a flee. Similarly, I couldn't help wonder how the Floor Tribes acquired such a comprehensive knowledge of traditional English terminology. How do the Red Tribe know they live under the bed and how do the Green Tribe know what a bin or a banana is? This is, however, a petty point that is probably necessary for understanding the story and I'm confident child readers won't notice or care. Instead, they are likely to be swept away by the story.
The story telling itself is impressive. Ross Montgomery skilfully handles multiple viewpoints without a single moment of confusion. The story opens with Mr Darrow (the school janitor, a model maker and creator of the miniature world that Max ends up attempting to save). It then moves to Mr Pitt (the megalomaniac Headteacher) quickly followed by Max and Prince Luke from the Blue Tribe. And, added to these viewpoints, we're also presented with a handful of extracts from the sacred text of this new Kingdom – 'The Book of the Floor' – which contains some wonderful ideas that made me laugh out loud.
All of these are woven together in a fast moving plot with some great characterisation and truly wonderful scenes. I personally loved the scenes with Mr Pitt, the Headteacher, and adored his determination to assert his control even if it bankrupted the school (he reminds me of a few bosses I've had!). Apart from the occasion where he ends up being attacked in his underpants and showered in glitter, child readers are, however, more likely to identify with the other characters in the book particularly Max, Sasha and Luke and will enjoy the children getting one over on the adults.
The book has some strong themes from friendship and fitting in to the importance of co-operation. These messages are made very explicit by Max and Luke's attempts to bring together the three floor tribes but, fortunately, the surreal storyline prevents this sounding in any way preachy. Max's disability is also well used in the plot, making his lip reading into a skill that's akin to a superpower rather than a negative necessity.
You can read more book reviews or buy Max and the Millions by Ross Montgomery at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Max and the Millions by Ross Montgomery at Amazon.com.
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