From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–When fourth-grader Damian finds a bag full of cash by the train tracks, he and his brother try to spend it fast. The bills are all pounds, and England is just a few weeks away from converting to the euro, so anything they don't use will, in their minds, soon be worthless. This happy predicament sets up some excellent comic situations, including rampant inflation at the school yard and some suspiciously materialistic Mormons. But a lot more is going on than money-related antics. Damian, obsessed with the lives of the saints and a bit muddled about the real world, narrates with endearing naïveté and unintended deadpan humor. Fifth-grader Anthony has an endless supply of schemes, contrasting with his brother's more charitable sensibilities. Though their mother's recent death is not described until later, the boys' sense of loss permeates the story, and their instant fortune subtly leads them to a point where they can finally face their grief. Damian's encyclopedic knowledge of saints is hilarious at times, but also reveals his touching need for faith and reassurance. Supporting characters, including their dad and a shrewd female fund-raiser, have distinct personalities. The imagined 1998 monetary changeover may be confusing to American kids, who might assume the event really occurred, but readers should grasp the resulting need to act with dispatch. There's plenty of excitement as the deadline approaches and the brothers' secret becomes known, but the humor, the strong family story, and Damian's narrative voice make this satisfying novel succeed on several levels.–Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
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Gr. 5-8. Would a lot of money be an answer to your prayers? Damien, a young expert on patron saints, thinks so after he finds 229,370 pounds sterling in a bag thrown by robbers from a passing train. With only a few short weeks until Euro Day, the day the "Great British Pound" would be replaced by the euro, Damien and his older, fifth-grade brother begin spending like daft nutters. The schoolyard economics quickly change, and soon adults are looking for the source of the cash--not to stop the flow, but to get in on the action. Naturally, the thwarted robbers are looking for their loot. The characters and their sometimes comical antics are as original, quirky, and compelling as in Hilary McKay's Exiles books, but the mood here is tempered by the recent death of the boys' mother. The point of view is solidly Damien's as he struggles to cope with his grief, be good, and find an ethical use for the money. Visits from saints guide him, and his faith in goodness helps him and his family to heal. An engaging possibility for reading aloud. Cindy DobrezCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved