Books Magazine

R.I.P. Review + Kid Konnection: Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things

By Anovelsource @thenovellife
384 pages | Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | Published: 9/13

384 pages | Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers | Published: 9/13

You can’t know a lot of plays well, some of them written by William Shakespeare, without getting a good understanding of how and why people do what they do.

From Newberry Award Medalist Cynthia Voigt comes her latest trilogy starring precocious twelve-year old Maximilian Starling.  His parents own and operate a well-known theater in addition to being world-renowned actors.  Max’s parents receive a grand & curious request to visit & perform for the Maharajah of Kashmir.  But on the day Max & his parents are to depart by steamship, Max’s parents disappear.  Max is suddenly thrust into the role of junior sleuth as only his grandmother & local librarian realize his beloved yet eccentric parents are missing.  Max must also find a way to make money so he can support himself. . .In the early days of the 20th century wages and jobs were scarce and his librarian Grammie made only a pittance.  Sleuthing for small and large jobs falls into his lap when Max is able to locate a missing dog for a young girl.  Suddenly his adventures become much more numerous all the while on the search for his missing parents.

One of the most charming things about this novel is the inner struggle Max has with being independent v. dependent.  Voigt deftly reveals the young boy wanting to be grown, thrust into a situation in which he has to behave in a more adult manner and the growth his character undergoes throughout the novel.

Nobody asked Max what he thought, and of course he minded, when it was his life they were having opinions about.  He was seated at his usual place at the table, and he looked from one of his parents to the other, minding.  He also minded Grammie trying to turn him back into the little boy she’d so often had in her care, for a night or a month, a little boy who couldn’t be left on his own in his own house.  In fact, the only thing he didn’t mind right then was being taken out of school.  At school they called him Eyes, and it wasn’t a friendly nickname.  He said, to nobody in particular, “I want to go.  I really do.”

With a theater full of costumes and the know-how to pull off any act from plays he and his parents performed, Max becomes a detective to be reckoned with.  The references to classic plays added to the charm of Mister Max {one of his aliases} and made me want to look those up: discovering for myself why Lorenzo Apiedi was a tragic young hero in A Patriot’s Story and why he was sentenced to death.  I would think Mister Max and The Book of Lost Things would entice most younger readers to want to know a little more about the story within the story.  Between being raised by his theatrical parents and librarian Grammie, Max is a virtual encyclopedia when it comes to books and plays.

Black and white illustrations by Iacopo Bruno enhance the novel with its old-world style and descriptive imagery.  Gorgeous illustrations!

Enough adventure to fill a couple of novels, intrigue and mystery to keep the reader rapidly flipping the pages and a protagonist at the center of it all who keeps us rooting for him and wishing he were our friend, Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things is a must for any child’s bookshelf…’s also one I plan on continuing through to the end of the trilogy because although it has a satisfying ending, Mister Max still has quite a bit of detecting to do!  This novel would appeal to readers ages 8-12, boys and girls alike ~ especially readers who appreciate a good mystery and adventure.


Saturdays brings the weekly Kid Konnection hosted at Booking Mama.  To participate or to read about additional books perfect for children and youth, visit Booking

Images by Artists Jennifer Gordan and Roman Sirotin, used with permission.

Images by Artists Jennifer Gordan and Roman Sirotin, used with permission.

To participate in R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril or to find more spooky reads, please visit Stainless Steel Droppings.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.

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