Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things

Cynthia Voigt, illus. by Iacopo Bruno. Knopf, $16.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-307-97681-9
A mysterious invitation to establish a theatrical troupe in India starts off the action in the first book in a trilogy from Newbery Medalist Voigt, set in the early 1900s. Max Starling’s actor parents set sail (or do they?) for the new opportunity, accidentally (or not?) leaving him behind. Frightened and slightly hurt by their abandonment, yet determined to solve the mystery of their disappearance and maintain his independence, 12-year-old Max searches for income-earning opportunities and stumbles into detectivelike work—finding a lost dog, a missing antique silver spoon, and (secretly) reuniting two lost lovers. Max creates different characters for each of his missions, with appropriate costumes from his parents’ trunks, and encounters the requisite eclectic characters, all well-drawn by Voigt. Max has a good heart and a sharp mind, with enough self-doubt to be credible, and his adventures, while not deeply suspenseful, build in complexity and develop Max’s maturity; Voigt’s accomplished writing draws readers into every aspect of his world. A double-edged ending solves one big mystery while setting the stage for a new one. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/08/2013
Release date: 09/10/2013
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