The focus of unwanted attention from his obnoxious head teacher because he is deaf, ten year old Max feels like an outsider as no one seems to know how to interact with him normally. When the school caretaker, Mr Darrow, who has a flair for creating fabulous miniature models, goes missing, leaving only a pile of sand and a message for Max behind him, Max discovers a tiny civilisation living on the floor. This is a world with three warring tribes, defined by the colour of their hair. Can Max help to solve their issues and bring peace?
This is an excellent story for a number of reasons. Ross Montgomery’s depiction of the daily issues faced by someone with hearing problems is sensitively, but honestly portrayed, encouraging empathy and understanding. Attitudes, misconceptions, the problems which can occur when using hearing aids are all introduced as a natural part of the story.
The story also encourages the reader to think about politics and how power can go to people’s heads. Not only do members of each tribe act in despotic ways, but the headteacher also has some very narrow minded, dictatorial ideas which could lead to some lively discussions. The futility of war and the ridiculous reasons people use as a reason to fight might also be discussed.
Above all, however, this is a delightful adventure story with lots of action- I love the sugar obsessed sister- and plenty of humour. Ross Montgomery creates strong, compelling characters, engaging the reader’s interest from the very first page. A real must-have!
Max and the Millions Ross Montgomery
Faber and Faber ISBN: 978-0571333486