Publisher- Knopf Books for Young Readers
Hardcover 400 pages
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audio Book CD/ Audible/ Barnes and Noble/ Indiebound/ Kobo
Goodreads- Max Starling's theatrical father likes to say that at twelve a boy is independent. He also likes to boast (about his acting skills, his wife's acting skills, a fortune only his family knows is metaphorical), but more than anything he likes to have adventures. Max Starling's equally theatrical mother is not a boaster but she enjoys a good adventure as much as her husband. When these two disappear, what can sort-of-theatrical Max and his not-at-all theatrical grandmother do? They have to wait to find out something, anything, and to worry, and, in Max's case, to figure out how to earn a living at the same time as he maintains his independence. This is the first of three books, all featuring the mysterious Mister Max.
I have been reading some fabulous Middle Grade fiction and this book continues that trend! I don't even remember requesting this book but it was in my NetGalley books so if it's still available and you read Middle Grade fiction, this is a great book! It even had illustrations in it and even on my old Kindle they were amazing. The chapters were all titled, some with funny names like "In which Max doesn't want to get out of bed, Grammie is bossy, and Madame Olenka enters the scene". And the chapters were manageable so that even a reader that isn't that comfortable with chapter books could easily read a chapter and come back to it later or mom or dad could read it at night, a chapter or two before bedtime.
Max is on the verge of being independent or so his dad has always said he is at the age of twelve. He doesn't feel that way, at least not as Max. But then he adopts the personnas of some of the characters in the plays he's seen his parents act in. Thankfully Max is a bit unremarkable and is able to pull off the chameleon like attitude and looks he needs to, and he's tall for his age. He becomes a detective of sorts, though he's quick to say he isn't one. He's a substitute teacher. A dog catcher. A gardener. A painter. But deep down, he's a very worried twelve year old boy.
His Grammie lives in a house right behind him and she wants him to live with her, but he can't stand that. He doesn't want to give up his independence and is very creative, resourceful and lucky in finding ways to make money to stay independent. He even gets an unwanted partner in his business, finder of lost things or "solutioneer" as he decides to call himself. But he isn't able to solve the biggest question. Where are his parents and why did they leave without him? What do his father's cryptic notes mean? And what's with that picture in the newspaper? And a very small part worries that they left him behind on purpose.
The characters in this novel are wonderful from the lost heir, to the stern but lovable Grammie to the annoying Pia. Their personalities are distinctive and you come to know them well. The setting is in the past as Max doesn't have a telephone and automobiles are scarce. I think it takes place in England. Max rides everywhere on his bike and you'll applaud Max for his fair decision making and his attempts to make life better for those around him.
I can't wait for the next book in this series and I think I'll buy my own copy of this novel. I believe it will become a favorite that I will read to future generations.
Thanks to the publishers who provided a copy for review through NetGalley for review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated for my review.
You can reach Cynthia Voigt on the Web the following place-