Review Blog

Jul 16 2019

Secrets of a schoolyard millionaire by Nat Amoore

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Penguin, 2019, ISBN: 9780143796374.
(Age: 8-12) Themes: Wealth, Millionaires, Money, Humour. What would you do if you found a million dollars? Would you help your family, your friends and classmates? Ten-year-old Tess Heckleston is the middle child in a rather chaotic family, her dad calls their place the Heckleston Hothouse. Tess is an entrepreneur; she's always planning her next business venture accompanied by her best friend Toby. Her small bedroom at the top of the house overlooks their dodgy neighbour Scotty's place and Tess often observes the strange people visiting him. Imagine her surprise when Scotty hides a large bag in her backyard treasure chest, just before the police arrest him!
Tess's choices from this moment on, take us on a wild and crazy ride, with loads of fun and creative adventures. Toby provides a voice of reason; he tries to be her moral compass, questioning her decisions. They need to be careful, to not arouse suspicions as she tries to help others with this windfall. When her younger sister is hospitalised with complications from her diabetes, Tess and Toby decide to spread a little love to the other children in the ward. Donating money is hard, and adults become very suspicious about kids with a large handful of notes.
Tess transforms Kathy the homeless woman who lives in the park, changing her into a look-alike of her mum and they fool the bank setting up an account, depositing the money and begin to share the wealth. Tess organises a home in the park for Kath, hundreds of kids buy Lego sets and build her a haven. Toby's two mums own a print shop and he's a whiz at Photoshop, creating flyers for their schemes and something extra special to help with the final events. Things come to a screeching halt when Tess finds her mum has disappeared, she's locked in the basement of the theatre where she works. Scotty is out on bail and on the hunt for his money. How will Tess and Toby right the wrongs and discover what is important in their lives?
Author Nat Amoore's Secrets of a schoolyard millionaire is written in a humorous, fast-paced style, includes loads of movie references, fun asides and tips for budding entrepreneurs - think puppies. An exciting read-aloud for middle primary classes, opening conversations about Tess and her decisions. Students can open dialogue about the protagonist's rights, responsibilities and ethics.
Rhyllis Bignell

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