Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things
by Cynthia Voigt
Book One in the Mister Max series
Twelve-year-old Max loves his life. His parents are great – actors with a gift for bringing drama to every aspect of daily life. When his father proudly announces that their acting company has been invited to perform for the Maharajah of India, Max looks forward to traveling to a new country aboard the Flower of Kashmir. But when Max arrives at the docks to join his parents, they’ve already gone – and the ship they claimed to have tickets for never existed. Unsure about their fate, Max must figure out a way to fend for himself. But what can a kid do?
Clever and observant, with a certain dramatic flair of his own, Max is an engaging guy. The story, set in a sort of nebulous, pseudo-Victorian time, seems preposterous on the surface: how can a twelve-year-old live on his own? But he’s not alone, even though his parents have vanished most mysteriously. His grandmother, the town librarian, lives close by and is as practical as Max’s parents were fanciful. She provides him with support and wise advice, although her attempts to control his life often set Max on edge. But with his grandmother’s help, Max is able to find a way to make money and continue living in his parent’s house, and along the way he even manages to help other people in his town find happiness, too.
As an adult reader, I enjoyed this, but I think kids would really love the book. There’s a strong focus on problem solving and thinking through issues. While Max doesn’t figure out what happened to his parents in this volume (the first book in a trilogy), he is presented with several mini-puzzles that he solves, and I think a child would have a lot of fun putting the clues together and trying to figure out the mystery before Max does.
The book also has some beautiful illustrations by Iacopo Bruno, a fantastic artist who has done book covers for Neil Gaiman, Alan Bradley and Patrick Ness. The ARC that I was sent didn’t always have the final art, but the page illustrations that were in the book looked fantastic, matching the mood and the text descriptions of the characters perfectly.
4 out of 5 stars
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Peeking into the archives...today in:
2013: Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World by Simon Callow
2012: Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
2011: Closing down for end of year Festivus…
2010: The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
2009: Sorry for the lack of updates…