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Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things

Review

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things

Written by Cynthia Voigt with illustrations by Iacopo Bruno

Newbery Medalist Cynthia Voigt launches a new trilogy with MISTER MAX: THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS, a historical mystery that's also brimming with plenty of humor and fun.

When Max Starling's parents get a mysterious invitation --- complete with fancy stationery and an enormous brooch --- from the Maharajah of Kashmir to come to India for a series of theatrical performances, their heads are turned immediately. Perhaps this is finally their chance for their acting to get the international recognition it deserves. Twelve-year-old Max is a little dismayed that the invitation says nothing about him, but his parents promise that he'll get to come along, too.

"In addition to being a historical novel (set during the early years of the 20th century), this is also a humorous, tongue-in-cheek kind of story and a genuinely suspenseful mystery novel."

So imagine Max's surprise when, upon arriving at the docks for the journey, he discovers that not only are his parents nowhere to be found, the ship they were to take to India, The Flower of Kashmir, doesn't seem to exist. Where have his parents disappeared to? And, almost as importantly, what is Max supposed to do now?

Fortunately, Max's invariably practical grandmother, who works at the local library and lives right next door to Max and his parents, is on the scene to help out. Max is secretly thankful for her presence, but he's also reminded of his father's suggestion that Max become more independent. Maybe he should hold down the fort at his own house instead of staying with his grandmother. And maybe he should find a way to help support himself while his parents are away.

Max, who was practically raised in the theatre, has no real desire to be an actor like his parents. But playing a role comes easily to him, which comes in handy when a menacing woman threatens to take over his house just days after his parents' disappearance. Max has acting skills even if he doesn't want to be an actor --- and it turns out he has other skills, too, as he discovers when he helps reunite a lost toddler with his distraught mother. Max's reputation for being able to find lost things soon spreads, and he's soon making real money finding everything from dogs to historically significant spoons. Max has a talent for this work, all right, but does any of that matter if he can't find his family? If only he could find out where they are --- as he says, "If you know where someone is, you know where you have to go to get them out of whatever trouble they're in."

Newbery Medalist Cynthia Voigt launches a new trilogy with this first book about "Mister Max," as he comes to be known. In addition to being a historical novel (set during the early years of the 20th century), this is also a humorous, tongue-in-cheek kind of story and a genuinely suspenseful mystery novel. In addition to the small series of "lost thing" mysteries that Max gets to solve, hanging over the whole book is the question of where Max's parents went --- and why. That question promises to grow even more intriguing in the second volume, which readers will eagerly await, eager to find out what Max's next adventure will be.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on June 3, 2013

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things
Written by Cynthia Voigt with illustrations by Iacopo Bruno

  • Publication Date: September 10, 2013
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0307976815
  • ISBN-13: 9780307976819