British screenwriter Boyce's inventive first novel, set in contemporary England, makes a fine transition to audio, thanks to Jones's lively, spot-on performance. Brothers Anthony and Damian are going through a tough time following their mother's death. The boys have moved to a new house with their father and are attending a new school. While Dad is overextended in his role as single parent, the boys try their best to "be excellent" and make things a little easier for all of them. As a coping method, Damian has become obsessed with the lives of saints, striving to emulate their acts of sacrifice—a point of serious concern for Dad and teachers from school. But one day when Damian is hanging out by the train tracks in his saint-like hermitage built of cardboard boxes, life takes an unusual turn. A bag of money—£229,370—seemingly falls from the sky. Of course the cash comes with strings. In 17 days, it will be deemed worthless when the country's currency changes over to euros. And the people who stole the money in the first place are eager to get it back. The boys' struggle to decide what to do with the money (and how to spend at least some of it) makes for an interesting, suspenseful caper. Jones brings humor and tenderness to the proceedings, making Damian's preoccupations both funny and heartwarming. And listeners will feel sure the family bonds are strengthened by the test. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)
FYI: A feature film based on the book hits U.S. theaters November 24.
Release date: 07/01/2004