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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
A Hundred Million Francs
by Paul Berna
Age Range: 9-11
A Hundred Million Francs has now achieved a permanent place among the outstanding books for children. In 1963 it was filmed by Walt Disney under the title The Horse without a Head. It is an exciting, highly original, and quite unpredictable story about a gang of children living in the outer suburbs of Paris and a headless wooden horse (a horse body on a tricycle frame).
A thief, who has stolen 100 million francs which is stashed away in a warehouse accidentally, trips over the headless horse in the street. When their horse is stolen Gaby and his gang (Marion, who knows all the dogs in the district; Criquet, the African boy; little Bonbon, valiantly trying to hold his own against his older companions, and the rest) try to find out why anyone would want their battered old horse. At the same time the police are looking for the money and the thieves. The story follows the gang in and out of the office of Monsieur Sinet, the shrewd Inspector of Police, and to a deserted factory filled with carnival novelties, where the glorious finale is played out.
Written in 1955 by well-known French author Paul Berna it was translated into English in 1957.