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The Book of Lost Things (Mister Max) Hardcover – September 10, 2013

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Editorial Reviews Review

Best Books of the Month: Middle Grade, September 2013: Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things is an imaginative blend of mystery and adventure, the first of a proposed trilogy. We begin with twelve-year-old Maximilian Sterling's very theatrical parents mysteriously disappearing, leaving him in the care of his grandmother. What follows is not what I expected--a wonderful surprise. While waiting for news of his parents, Max stumbles into detective work that he calls the job of "solutioneer," because sometimes there is more to finding a solution than simply retrieving what has been lost. Max’s theatrical upbringing serves him well, with disguises and personas that are often comical and always exactly what is needed to get the job done. If only he could figure out how to solve his own mystery: the whereabouts of his parents. Mister Max is a thoughtful and beautifully written novel that will reassure the most timid of readers that hidden within themselves is a wealth of courage and untapped possibility. --Seira Wilson

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-Admirers of Voigt's "Tillerman" series (S & S) will recognize several plot points in this first volume of a proposed trilogy: a child is seemingly deserted by his parents and survives with the support of his grandmother. But there the similarities end, for this is a mystery-cum-adventure story with a 19th-century feel and an accumulation of improbabilities that build to a satisfyingly melodramatic climax. As Maximilian Starling wends his way around his nameless city trying to find an honest day's work, he stumbles across a series of people with problems, unanswered questions, unsatisfied longings, or vague states of malaise. And then there are the sinister types who seem intent on breaking into Max's house. What are they looking for? Fortunately, Max's parents were theatricals, which gives him both an intimate knowledge of roles to assume while pretending to be old enough for employment and an ample supply of costumes in which to disguise himself. Whether it's finding a good home for a lost dog, facilitating the reunion of disappointed lovers, or recovering a long-lost heirloom, Max displays good sense, a sensitive nature, and winning ingenuity. He resists being labeled a detective and since he merely guides people toward the resolution of their troubles, it's fitting that he calls himself a "solutioneer." By book's end, however, he has not answered his own questions. Readers still don't know what has happened to his parents, for example. This will likely leave them strangely contented, knowing that Voigt has so much more to reveal in the sequels to this comedic page-turner.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Series: Mister Max (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 8.11.2013 edition (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307976815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307976819
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cynthia Voigt won the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Song and the Newbery Honor Award for A Solitary Blue, both part of the beloved Tillerman Cycle. She is also the author of many other celebrated books for middle-grade and teen readers, including Izzy, Willy-Nilly and Jackaroo. She was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1995 for her work in literature, and the Katahdin Award in 2004. She lives in Maine.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Y. Scott VINE VOICE on September 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Grown-ups may think the mysteries Max solve in this book are too simple or too easy, but I disagree with it. I thought they are perfect for children between 9 and 13.

In order for young readers to enjoy mysteries, they need to be able to solve problems as the main character does. They need to feel, "I know what happened!", or "I think I can solve it!" as they continue reading. I think Voigt delivered a just right amount of problems and mysteries.

I also loved the way 12 year-old Max transferred himself into different personalities to trick grown-ups. That's also fun for young readers.

I've already recommend this book to a middle school child. I hope she will enjoy it as much as I did.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By J. Wiles Parker VINE VOICE on September 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things introduces middle grade readers to Max Starling, the son of two theater parents. Almost thirteen, Max has grown up playing bit parts in his parents' plays and generally surrounded by the theater. He loves to paint the sky in watercolor and ride his bicycle. When his parents receive a mysterious invitation to travel to India aboard the Flower of Kashmir, Max thinks it is a silly idea, but off his parents go and Max gets left behind setting off a string of misadventures during which Max must put his theater skills to use as well as make a little money to assure his independence.

The idea of the book is all right, but Max is rather at an awkward age for what happens to him. He seems younger than his almost thirteen at times, but appears older to everyone (except maybe his grandmother and painting instructor who treat him more or less as an adult anyway) throughout the book. The mystery of what happens to his parents is more or less forgotten as Max tries to make money finding lost things (a dog, a spoon, and some missing library periodicals) in order to convince grandma that he can live on his own. It's all rather a convenient way of getting the parents out of the picture, but they're so absent with so little attempt to locate them that it's almost absurd. Max makes some friends including a few adult folk, but they treat him like an adult to the point that it's easy to forget Max is only twelve going on thirteen until he brings it up or interacts with someone his age. Further, his various deceptions are applauded rather than being frowned upon (the dog plot line in particular is loaded with questionable decisions) in such a way that the author almost is saying that purposeful avoidance of the truth is okay.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Butenhof on December 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I have three boys, ages 8, 8, and 9. I received "Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things" as an Advance Review Copy from NetGalley.
Though my boys are getting older, and can read very well on their own, I love to read aloud, and they love to listen. It's special time that we sit and talk about the characters in the novels we read. While this is wonderful, it also stretches books out into a much longer experience than you would have reading it to yourself. This can be good for discussion, but so hard to do when you just want to know the answer to the mysteries! ;)

Max Starling is the son of two actors/theater owners. Following in his parents' flamboyant footsteps, it is revealed that Max, himself, has great acting chops. The story opens up with Max's parents supposedly being offered temporary positions overseas as acting coaches, but something goes awry, and his parents disappear, with only an oddly-worded note left behind.

This seems like it's going to be the great mystery of the novel, but it is sadly pushed out of the picture for most of the story. Max doesn't act like a 12-year-old. This was brushed off, by basically alluding that his parents were irresponsible, and he often had to fend for himself, even prior to them actually disappearing.
Max tries to prove that he can be independent, by getting odd jobs to support himself. The only type of work he can find, is in finding things for other people. The majority of the story bounces back and forth between the 'cases' that he takes on, as a 'Solutioneer,' while the whole issue of his parents' disappearance is suspiciously absent.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Valerie A. Baute on September 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Max's theatrical parents rush out of the country to take a new acting job. Max is supposed to go with them. He misses the boat, because the supposed boat doesn't really exist. Thankfully his grandmother is still nearby to help him. With some odd jobs and his grandmother's help, he is able to somewhat thrive on his own, waiting to hear what has become of his parents.

I liked: The writing style, the time period, Max himself and his adventures.
I wasn't so sure about: The supposed mystery that took a huge back burner shortly into the story, the way that he seemed so immature yet people treated him like an adult (like they had no idea how old he was.)

Honestly, I am not sure how I feel about this book. It was fun to read about his adventures, but I didn't feel like there was really a point to them. There are more books to come, so I hope the story is developed further. The writing was fun, and the character building was great if not confusing (again, people treating Max like they don't realize he is only 12, going on 13) hopefully leading to more answers than questions in the next installment. I cannot think of a specific age or type of child to give this book to, but it was just delightful enough to earn 4 stars to me. I do have high hopes for a 5 star book to follow, but it isn't one I'm desperately waiting to read. I'm kind of worried I will have forgotten it by the time it comes out next year.

Free ARC provided through NetGalley
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