Title: The Book of Lost Things
Series: Mister Max #1
By: Cynthia Voigt
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Historical, Spies, Mystery, Brittish
Publication Date: Sep 10th 2013
Pages: 400 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Max Starling's theatrical father likes to say that at twelve a boy is independent. He also likes to boast (about his acting skills, his wife's acting skills, a fortune only his family knows is metaphorical), but more than anything he likes to have adventures. Max Starling's equally theatrical mother is not a boaster but she enjoys a good adventure as much as her husband. When these two disappear, what can sort-of-theatrical Max and his not-at-all theatrical grandmother do? They have to wait to find out something, anything, and to worry, and, in Max's case, to figure out how to earn a living at the same time as he maintains his independence. This is the first of three books, all featuring the mysterious Mister Max.
Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things is a entertaining read that combines good, old fashion mystery and adventure featuring a fresh new hero full of charm and quirkiness.
In Which a surprising invitation arrives and plans are made
When Max Starling’s theatrical parents receive a mysterious letter from the Maharajah of Kashmir asking them to travel to India in order to create a special theater company, Max believes an exciting, new adventure is about to begin for him. When Max goes to join his parents on the Flower of Kashmir, he finds the docks empty with no ship and no parents. Max is left with only his wits, a cryptic note from his parents, and a sense of adventure as he tries to solve the mystery behind his missing parents. Along the way, Max will use his new independence to reinvent himself (he is after all the son of two famous theatrical parents) and take on whatever role is needed, becoming the town’s riddle solver, also known as the solutioneer. Gently guided by his Granny, Max begins an adventure not in India, but right at home.
WHAT I LIKED
Cynthia Voigt is an award-winning, Newbery Medalist author, and with Mister Max, it’s obvious she brings her writing talents to this brand new series that fits in nicely within children’s traditional mystery and adventure genre. The story itself is broken down much like a drama into three basic Acts in which young Max is asked to solve a mystery (The Lost Dog, The Lost Spoon, and The Library Job), but what is so clever and fun is the mini mysteries within the larger ones that interweaves both the characters and mysteries into a larger plot. I caught myself smiling several times at Max's antics as he goes "undercover" and changing disguises for each job. I could easily picture kids reading this out loud at home, or even taking turns in a classroom atmosphere, taking on "the solutioneer" roles just like Max. As far as setting goes, Cythia Voigt with her detailed writing, completely takes the reader into Max's home town, the City of Queensbridge. There's a wonderful illustrated map that makes it easy for readers to follow Max about in his seaside hometown, as well as other illustrations throughout the book that give the readers fun details in regards to the many secondary characters throughout the story.
WHAT I DIDN'T CARE FOR
To be honest, although there was so many great elements I really liked about Mister Max- I felt the first 100 pages or so were slow and unexciting. I appreciated the set up for the story: the missing parents, a mysterious letter, and Max's new-found independence, but I felt it took too long before the actual "mystery solving" to began. It also felt a bit odd that the BIG mystery behind Max's parents missing was only vaguely in the background. I realize that this is a three-part series and that a big part of it is Max discovering a sense of independence, but I was hoping for more interaction and clues in regards to his parents.
WHY KIDS MIGHT LIKE IT
I think kids who are mature readers and like detailed writing, will find Mister Max an enjoyable read, especially Max's quirky personality and the fun disguises he uses, as well as the mysteries and his sleuthing abilities. There's plenty of oddball and charming characters to keep things interesting.
Readers who enjoy a good-old-fashion mystery, a dash of adventure, detailed writing, and great setting. Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things would make a great read-out-loud book for younger readers.
MY RATING: 3.5 Stars. I liked it!
PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Knopf Books for Young Readers via NetGalley in exchange for my fair review. Thank you Knopf Books for Young Readers for the review opportunity!