One of Daniel Pinkwater's more sane novels... I suppose. It is a young adult novel, perhaps best categorized as religious fiction. I should note that the religion in question is not Christianity, so this probably counts as a vile heathen book. Instead this is a reaction to the new age pap of the 1970s (it was published in 1978), mocking the Westerners who had decided that Eastern religions held the answers to all of life's questions.

Harold Blatz has a deal with his uncle. In return for never pestering him about such matters EVER AGAIN, his uncle will place one (1) bet at the race track for him. The conditions are that Harold most use his own money, and must never never never tell his parents. This is supposed to teach him a lesson, namely that betting is Bad. (Hey, it worked great when Harold decided that he wanted to smoke and his uncle gave him that 6 cent cigar). And it's going to be quite a lesson; Harold has managed to save up over $600 doing odd jobs around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, Harold picks a winner -- a long shot that pays off at 90:1.

Harold's uncle is ready to have a heart attack, but fortunately Harold seems to have actually learned the correct lesson, and decides to put his money in the stock market. He picks some junk stocks that aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Well you can guess what happens. It isn't long before Harold is the 5th richest person in the world. And his parents don't know. Eventually the secret comes out, and the resulting media storm forces the Blatz family to leave the country. By pure chance, they flee to a small town in India, where they learn that Harold is lucky in matters of money because his is the reincarnation of a great guru.

Despite being a bit dated at times, this is still an engaging book, and I suspect that today's youth will enjoy it -- it is somewhat silly, it mocks mainstream America, and it is an easy read. I would expect kids from ~9-14 to enjoy it the most. If you are already a Pinkwater fan you may find that this is not quite as silly as many of his books, but I don't think you will be disappointed. Unfortunately, unless your local library has a copy you are going to have to order it secondhand or buy the rather immense collection of some of his best novels, 5 Novels

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