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Million Dollar Dreamer: Review of Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire by Nat Amoore

June 25, 2019

‘Finding a million dollars in your backyard – every kid’s dream, right? That’s what me and my best friend Toby thought too…’

Imagine you are 10-years-old and have dreams about changing the world but very little chance of making anything like that happen for years. Then imagine that you discover your neighbour is a bona fide criminal. Let’s take this further and imagine that one day with the police in hot pursuit that neighbour climbs the fence and deposits a very large bag of cash in your backyard and then gets arrested… What would you do?

Tess Heckleston is in year five at Watterson Primary. She’s a born entrepreneur and always has a scheme hatching that will make her some extra money. Who hasn’t dreamed of what they’d do with extra cash?

However, Tess doesn’t just dream. She takes the steps to make that a reality. Yet, despite many successful plans that she launches with best friend Toby Baker (like creating an alternative tuck shop, a homework sharing scam and other somewhat dubious plans) there is only so much money you can make when catering to kids with small budgets.

And then it happens, her criminal neighbour Scotty deposits a very large bag of cash in Tess’s backyard and the story really starts to get interesting…

Will Tess and her best friend Toby get away with spending Scotty’s ill begotten money? Will they be able to stick to their plan to do good with it? And how will all of this impact their families and friends – especially if Scotty comes looking for his money?

This is a very funny, vibrant and aspirational story of two best friends with the best of intentions. There is a laugh on every page, and it’s filled with important tips and lessons that Tess has learnt along the way such as:

  • Tip 1 – Use Google
  • Tip 7 – If something feels wrong, it is wrong
  • Tip 15 – Don’t be an idiot, nobody likes an idiot

Young readers will love the excitement of jumping castles at school, lollipops raining from the sky, an entire house built out of Lego and goats, orangutans and puppies. We’re certain they will and then they’ll be back for more!

It’s not surprising to learn that Australian author Nat Amoore is also the host of One More Page a podcast for kids about books. She certainly knows how to capture their attention and then deliver a highly entertaining story but slip in some great messages about inclusion, generosity and helping those in need.

Aside from that she delivers for parents with lots of references to classic songs of the 70s and 80s meaning that next time you have a sing along in the car they may actually think you are cool because you know all the words to ‘Kids in America’ by Kim Wilde!

Purchase a copy of Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire by Nat Amoore 

Nat Amoore is a writer who is passionate about encouraging kids to read, write and explore their imagination without boundaries. With a background in writing for screen, she wrote and directed international award-winning short film Elemenopee and has a feature film screenplay and a kids’ TV series in development. Nat was a recipient of the CBCA Maurice Saxby Creative Development Program for 2018. In February 2018, Nat (along with fellow hosts Kate and Liz) launched kidlit podcast One More Page(, which was a finalist in the ‘Best Newcomer’ category for the 2018 Australian Podcast Awards. The podcast has featured in publications such as Books+PublishingBuzz Words and the SCBWI AUS&NZ newsletters.





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