About the book:
Newbery medalist Cynthia Voigt is back with a rollicking mystery in three acts!
Max's parents are missing. They are actors, and thus unpredictable, but sailing away, leaving Max with only a cryptic note, is unusual even for them. Did they intend to leave him behind? Have they been kidnapped?
Until he can figure it out, Max feels it's safer to keep a low profile. Hiding out is no problem for a child of the theater. Max has played many roles, he can be whoever he needs to be to blend in. But finding a job is tricky, no matter what costume he dons. Ironically, it turns out Max has a talent for finding things. He finds a runaway child, a stray dog, a missing heirloom, a lost love. . . . So is he a finder? A detective? No, it's more. Max finds a way to solve people's problems--he engineers better outcomes for them. He becomes Mister Max, Solutioneer.
Now if only he could find a solution to his own problems ...
I thought this was such a cute book. I am ashamed to say I haven't heard of Cynthia Voigt before I came across Mister Max on NetGalley, but she had me at "Newbery Medal." I love the way that Mister Max is presented. Since his parents are actors (and so he is as well, naturally) instead of being divided into chapters the book is divided into acts. I thought that was a nice touch. The story begins with Max's parents leaving for a trip that he was supposed to go on without him. Did they do this on purpose or did something go terribly awry? Meanwhile, Max has to deal with his grandma wanting to take care of him when he feels like he can be independent (he is 12 year old, after-all!) This leads Max to look for a job and he accidentally finds one as a detective of sorts, so the book is about him finding things for other people and solving problems in a way that only he can. Max dons several costumes to take on the parts of these roles he needs to portray to solve the mysteries he's presented. There is a great cast of characters in this book, especially Max, who is very animated and a great critical thinker. I feel like that is really the point of this middle grade book, to show children how to think critically. I love that Max solves problems he didn't originally set out to solve, but have come along in the midst of his other cases. I would be remiss not to mention that the witty titles of the different acts and scenes and the wonderfully whimsical artwork throughout the book (by Iacopo Bruno), I thought both of those elements really tied together really well with the novel. I think this one might be a little long winded for the youngest of middle graders, but could easily be an enjoyable book read a few chapters at a time, it just might take a while to get through it. Then again, it is fun to continuously come back to characters you enjoy and there aren't a ton of young reader books that allow that privilege. I think that Voigt kicked this series off on a great note and I can't wait to see what other problems Mister Max will solve in the future books. In the meantime, I am going to check out some of the various other books by Voigt that somehow were never on my radar until now.
Connect with Cynthia Voigt on Goodreads
Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things will be available on Setember 10, 2013. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon.com.