Too Small to Fail by Morris Gleitzman

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Too Small to Fail by Morris Gleitzman

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Clever Morris Gleitzman writes about the credit crunch in a way young readers can understand in this funny, sad and serious book about a little boy who wants a pet dog more than a beachside mansion.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Puffin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0241955203

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Oliver's parents own an investment bank. They are very rich and also very busy and they need to be in the city for their work. This means that Oliver lives in a penthouse flat, largely in the company of a succession of housekeepers, and he can't have a pet. Of late, Oliver has been spending a lot of time with his nose pressed up against a pet shop window, falling in love with a black-and-white dog that he knows he'll never be able to take home.

And then things start to go a little crazy. Nancy buys Barclay (the dog) and threatens to kill him unless Oliver persuades his parents to repay the money Nancy lost investing at their bank. Oliver is desperate to save Barclay, but will playground-style credit default swaps cut the mustard? And never mind Barclay, what about sixteen camels and a cross little girl? What about them? As the global financial meltdown gathers momentum, can Oliver make his parents see things the way he sees them?

This is a deceptively clever story - yes, it's unlikely even a desperate ex-housekeeper would really blackmail a child in order to get compensation from investment bankers, but Gleitzman explains the credit crunch in a way primary school children will understand and he doesn't pull any punches. It's a stroke of genius to make global financial meltdown the backdrop to a story about what things in life have real value and if I could have run a book on the author to do it, Morris Gleitzman would have been at the top of the list. It's important children have some understanding of what is going on in the world around them and it's equally important they aren't bored to death while finding it out.

Too Small to Faill is funny and sad simultaneously, which all Morris Gleitzman stories are. The child's point of view is taken seriously and given value, as it is in all Morris Gleitzman stories. There's a serious message at its heart, as there is in all Morris Gleitzman stories. And some of it is completely mad - camels in city back yards, credit default swaps in the playground - as is the case with all Morris Gleitzman stories.

So, I got what I expected. And I loved it. And so will the intended readers, who are the important people, after all.

My thanks to the good people at Puffin for sending the book.

Pet-loving children will love Dog by Daniel Pennac. Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko also features a little boy who is prepared to take risks not for profit, but to make things right.

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Buy Too Small to Fail by Morris Gleitzman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Too Small to Fail by Morris Gleitzman at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Too Small to Fail by Morris Gleitzman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Too Small to Fail by Morris Gleitzman at


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