In the vein of The Borrowers and The Indian in the Cupboard, this is an imaginative, irresistible, and incredible exploration into what happens when one boy discovers a kingdom of tiny people.
The day before summer vacation, Max's closest friend at boarding school disappears, leaving behind his amazing model collection and a handful of sand on his bedroom floor. Like Max, the eccentric janitor Mr. Darrow is a genius at building tiny models. Eight weeks later, Max finds that the sand has magically transformed into a whole desert kingdom--filled with millions of tiny people!
Max wears hearing aids, and they allow him to hear the ant-sized people. There's a boy named Luke who's about to become king. But when Max appears, he plunges their world into chaos. Luckily, Luke has two strong allies: Ivy, a fearless girl, and Luke's trusty steed--a flea.
While Max and his new friend Sasha fight to protect the Floor from their evil headmaster, Luke must fight to save it from being destroyed by all-out war.
An Excerpt fromMax and the Millions
Mr. Darrow was building a world.
He was building it in his bedroom, which was the biggest in the boardinghouse. The room was as cold and bare as a basement, with high ceilings and uncarpeted floors. Mr. Darrow had asked to be moved somewhere better, but the headmaster had always refused. After all, the headmaster would say, you’re just a janitor.
Mr. Darrow wasn’t just anything. He was a genius. Unfortunately nobody knew it but him.
After tonight, that was all going to change.
Mr. Darrow gazed at the miniature world on his desk. It was a little tray of sand, no bigger than a book. Inside were hundreds of tiny palm trees, each one made by hand and the size of a matchstick. They’d been planted in a ring around a green lagoon. It glimmered in the lamplight like an emerald dropped on the sand.
There was no doubt about it--this was Mr. Darrow’s masterpiece. The greatest model he had ever made.
Other models filled the shelves above his desk. There were hundreds of them, piled on top of each other from floor to ceiling. Model boats, model planes, model palaces, monuments, dinosaurs, skyscrapers . . . each one smaller and more perfect than the last.
But they were nothing compared to his latest creation. It was paradise . . . and it was almost complete.
There was just one thing left to do.
Mr. Darrow opened a drawer beside him and took out a pair of metal goggles. They had two thick lenses and were covered in switches and wires. He pulled them on and pressed a button on the side. The lenses shot out like telescopes.
Mr. Darrow was proud of his microscope goggles--after all, he had built them himself. They were priceless.
Just like the serum.
Mr. Darrow picked up the tiny bottle beside him and held it up to the light. Less than a thimbleful of liquid lay inside, but the colors shifted and clouded in a pattern of millions. Mr. Darrow carefully swirled the bottle, merging red, then green, then blue, before the colors separated again.
It had taken him twenty years to find the serum. He never expected to get his hands on so much, and of such perfect quality . . . but even so, he had only one chance to use it.
He tilted the lamp over the sandbox. The lagoon shimmered.
“Light and water,” he whispered. “That’s all it needs.”
Mr. Darrow swallowed. Five years of construction, twenty years of planning--it had all come down to this one moment. He tried not to think about what would happen if he used too much serum, or too little, or--and it didn’t even bear thinking about--he dropped the bottle.
Mr. Darrow unscrewed the lid, took a deep breath, and leaned over his greatest work.
“Oh well,” he said. “Here goes nothing.”
The headmaster cleared his throat.
“Good morning, children.”
“Good morning, Mr. Pitt,” replied five hundred voices.
Mr. Pitt smiled. The whole school was completely in his hands. He could tell them to start jumping up and down if he wanted to, and they’d do it. It was his favorite part of being a headmaster. That, and the speeches.
“Today,” he announced, “is the last day of school. It is also the end of my first year as your new headmaster! While I’ve only been running St. Goliath’s Boarding School for a short time, I feel like I’ve already gotten to know each one of you personally.”
This was a lie. Mr. Pitt had spent the whole year in his office and still knew hardly any of the children’s names, unless by coincidence they were all called Oi You.
“In an hour’s time, the summer holidays will begin. While you will all return home, I will be staying behind to oversee the next exciting stage in St. Goliath’s history: the Pitt Building!”
He swept a hand toward what used to be the football pitch. It was now a building site, cordoned off with red tape. Five hundred children watched mournfully as a gang of builders tore out the goalposts.
“We will all miss the football pitch,” said Mr. Pitt. “But as your headmaster it is my duty to bring this school into the future.”
Some children asked if that meant there’d be cyborg teachers. Mr. Pitt gave them detention.
“It doesn’t mean cyborg teachers,” he said. “It means cutting-edge technology. State-of-the-art facilities. A brand-new school building to replace the old one.”
He pointed to the school behind him and grimaced. St. Goliath’s had been falling apart when he first arrived, and now it looked even worse. It was just one of the many things Mr. Pitt had assured the school governors he would change--along with abolishing free lunches, dismantling the library . . .
And, of course, getting rid of Mr. Darrow.
Mr. Pitt smiled. That was one thing off his list already--and he hadn’t had to lift a finger.
“Which brings me to a sad piece of news.” He gave a carefully rehearsed sigh. “I’m sorry to announce that yesterday our much-beloved school janitor, Mr. Darrow, has . . .”
Mr. Pitt trailed off. His eyes had been scanning the front row to measure the effect of his dramatic sigh, but now they stopped on a single chair. This one was different from the others. It said SPECIAL SEAT on the back in big red letters--so everyone could see--and it was empty.
Mr. Pitt looked up.