Bored: Milo Finds $105
ABC Books, 2022
224pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
Milo is so bored that he is having a conversation with an ant, when suddenly he spies money lying in the middle of his cul-de-sac. There’s $105 to be exact and he ha s no idea who it belongs to or what he should do about it. His stepmum, Liz, tells him it is “finders keepers” but his mum, a law student, says he must try to find the owner.
Being somewhat shy, introverted and anxious, this causes issues for Milo who is afraid of Rocco the bully; would love to know Evie better but she’s always got her headphones on, and is somewhat overawed by the confidence of Frog; the new kid who has invented his own brand of martial arts. Suddenly, having so much money becomes a nightmare, particularly when Frog and Rocco look like they’re going to get into a fight about it t the bus stop. “Some kids just have power and other kids don’t, and I don’t understand it. Where do you get power from? Because if I knew, I’d happily spend a hundred and five dollars to buy some.
But then Frog hatches a plan…
Told by 11 year old Milo, this is a new series from the author of Funny Kids and The Odds in which Stanton again demonstrates his ability to turn everyday situations and authentic characters that readers will recognise into stories that engage even the most reluctant readers. While there is a strong sense of family because Milo misses his older brother Henry who has joined the army, rather than his having two mums, (which is just accepted by kids if not by adults) it is the evolving and changing friendships between the children that carry the story along, just as they do in real life.
When Milo muses, “Some kids just have power and other kids don’t, and I don’t understand it. Where do you get power from? Because if I knew, I’d happily spend a hundred and five dollars to buy some, ” some readers will be urging him to find his voice while others will be feeling just as concerned as he is. Being able to evoke such opposite emotions is the sign of a writer who knows kids well and how to relate to them through story, and achieves his goal of creating stories with “emotional guts”, with “truth and understanding” and allow the reader “to feel a little less alone.”
The second in the series, due in September, is told from Frog’s perspective as he tries to fit into this new neighbourhood and one suspects that the other children in the street will also get their say in the future.