Mr. Chickee

Mr. Chickee
Christopher Paul Curtis

Mr. Chickee, the genial blind man in the neighborhood, gives 9-year-old Steven a mysterious bill with 15 zeros on it and the image of a familiar but startling face. Could it be a quadrillion dollar bill? Could it be real? Well, Agent Fondoo of the U.S. Treasury Department and his team of Secret Government Agents are determined to get that money back! But Steven and his best friends, Russell and Zoopy the giant dog, are more than a match for the Feds. After all, Steven is the president of the Flint Future Detectives Club, and the inventor of fantastic spying and detecting equipment such as the Snoopeeze 9000!

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3-6–A humorous and exciting tall tale about nine-year-old Steven, who loves helping his blind neighbor, Mr. Chickee, run his errands. When the elderly man tells Steven he is going on a long trip, he gives the boy a present and tells him to keep it secret. When Steven finally opens the surprise, he finds a quadrillion dollar bill. With the help of his younger friend, Russell, and Russell's drooling, giant dog, Zoopy, Steven manages to evade the smarmy and slightly inept Agent Fondoo from the U.S. Treasury Department, who is desperately trying to get the bill back. Curtis piles the laughs on in this fast-paced mystery. The interactions between Steven and his dad, who uses every opportunity to educate his son (much to Steven's irritation); the dictionary whose copyright page constantly writes insults; and the boy's miraculous spying invention called the Snoopeeze 9000 all serve to give the novel a sense of whimsy and magical realism. Characters are very interesting but the plot is the important thing here. Curtis presents both adults and children as flawed but brave. This book will surely appeal to reluctant readers as well as anyone who wants to laugh and find intrigue and just a little bit of magic.–B. Allison Gray

From Booklist

Gr. 4-6. Curtis tries something new in this book, which begins the Flint Future Detective series. Mostly mystery with a touch of fantasy, the story introduces Steven, a bright kid, whose adventure begins after he receives a quadrillion dollar bill from Mr. Chickee, a blind neighbor that Steven helps out. The money's signature feature is a picture of soul singer James Brown. After Steven discovers that the money is legit, he finds himself pitted against Treasury Agent Foondoo, which leads to a chase in which Zoopy, a dog belonging to Russell, Steven's partner in crime, is seemingly killed. But all's well that ends well when the money is returned, rewards are given, and Zoopy reappears unharmed. There's plenty of action, and the humor is high--though much of it, unfortunately, is at the expense of Steven's father. Curtis' writing style, fast-paced and full of improbable happenings, may be too stylized for some readers, but many kids will enjoy the heady mix of conspiracies and everyday happenings. The explanation of how Brown's picture landed on the quadrillion dollar bill is a hoot. Ilene Cooper

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