Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Max Counts to a Million by Jeremy Williams

Max Counts to a Million is the first proper COVID-19 story I’ve read. It follows Max, an ordinary boy, who is experiencing all the unknowns and anxieties of lockdown and the huge impact it is having on his family. This is a story that will resonate with children. They will see themselves in Max as he tries to work out what’s going (even though adults are trying to protect him from the news), marvels at panic buying in the supermarket, celebrates the idea of school closure then realises how much school and being with his friends actually means to him, worries about his family and finds new activities to pass the time.

Like so many others during the pandemic, Max appreciates the NHS. His dad is a doctor and has to live away from home when coronavirus is at its worst, his grandad catches the virus and has to spend some time in hospital, and Max joins with his neighbours to clap for the NHS each week. What’s different about Max is the way he tries to help. What starts out as a way to get back at his mum when she gets cross with him turns into an enormous challenge – counting to a million to raise money for NHS Charities Together. Can he break the world record and find his own way to make a difference?

Honest and touching, this story really hits home. I found myself laughing at all too familiar situations and feeling quite emotional when Max’s dad had to move into a hotel to keep the family safe, Mum tries to hold everything together and Grandpa gets ill. We’ve all lived through something quite remarkable and this story is a fantastic record of just how much children had cope with.

As we remember the two year anniversary of the start of lockdowns and the reality of coronavirus hitting our lives, Max Counts to a Million is a wonderful book to share at home or at school to prompt discussion, gratitude and hope for the future.

Thank you to Nosy Crow for this timely book!

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon or bookshop.org.

Books by Kate Heap:

Nonfiction: Years 5/6

Nonfiction: Years 3/4

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