How hard would it be to spend a million dollars? It might be more difficult than you think, especially hard if you were a kid and couldn’t buy just a couple of big ticket items. That’s just the premise of a funny and strangely plausible book by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Millions explores how difficult it is for two brothers to actually spend a huge sum of British pounds before the currency changes to the euro. It’s a fast-paced, contemporary novel filled with quirky characters (including the narrator’s obsession with the lives of saints), bad guys looking for their stolen money, and real family issues.
The possibilities of this book at home and in the classroom intrigue me. It could be related to math, social studies, and family life — just for starters.
Not only does Millions introduce the notion of that vast number we call a million, it could lead into the notion of coins and currencies (How many dollars would make a million pounds; how many euros will a British pound buy? What would your plan to spend a million dollars, pounds, or euros look like?); geography, people, and history (Where is England in relation to continental Europe? Why do different countries have different money systems — don’t they all spend alike? How and why did these countries agree on the euro? What other changes has the euro brought to the different countries?).
And of course real life issues are imbedded naturally in Millions; kids see money every day and need to know how to handle money as well as compromises made, often over buying things (What is compromise? Have you ever made a compromise? How would you get all of the classes in your school — or all the members of your family — to compromise on an issue?). And all of this happens while the boys deal with family situations and may provide a way to talk about loneliness and emotions.
There are lots more books (maybe millions!) that introduce challenging ideas in exciting, playful ways. After all, kids count on the adults in their lives!