'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Review: Too Small to Fail

I love how Morris Gleitzman consistently manages to combine really intelligent and advanced themes with an intensely childlike sense of fun.

In his latest junior fiction novel, this talented writer takes on the complicated world of finance and bundles it up with a fantabulous plot that combines road trips, animal welfare, stocks and shares, camels and bribery – all in one whacky story that somehow also manages to touch on the meaningful nuances of life.

But that’s just the Gleitzman mastery.

Young Oliver is son to a pair of high-flying bank-owning parents. During one of his frequent visits to the local petshop to visit a dog he seriously covets, Oliver is shocked when a sunglass-wearing woman buys the dog then lures Oliver into her car (don’t do this in real life, kids!) to reveal a cunning and quite frightening bribe.

The woman in question is actually one of Oliver’s long-forgotten nannies – Nancy. Desperate to recoup the $11,000 she invested in a bad deal with Oliver’s parents, Oliver learns the dog he adores (Barclay) will become a sad statistic unless he somehow comes up with the $11,000 Nancy lost.

How Oliver goes about sourcing (or rather, investing and growing) this $11,000 is a financial feat in mind-boggling numbers. But it’s not until Nancy’s stepdaughter Rose makes a rather untoward appearance and he learns of the fate of a group of thirsty camels and an untimely death, that Oliver begins to understand the depth and injustice of the world of big finance and the price of even the most calculated financial risk.

Can Oliver help Nancy, mollify Rose, save Barclay, travel through the outback to save a batch of camels and simultaneously convince his parents – who are about to experience a major financial collapse – that sometimes one’s conscience is worth more than $38 million dollars?

In Too Small to Fail, Gleitzman once again combines an incredibly likeable main character with a kooky storyline, plenty of action, intelligence, humour and an uncanny knack for poignancy, topped, as usual, with an almost invisible moralistic slick of glaze. Heartstrings are pulled and grins are to be had in this thoroughly entertaining read.

Title: Too Small to Fail
Author: Morris Gleitzman
Publisher: Penguin, $16.95
Publication Date: 2 May 2011
ISBN: 9780143306429
Format: Soft cover
For ages: 8 - 12
Type: Junior Fiction

This book can be bought online