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Max Hamby and the Blood Diamond Paperback – September 19, 2014
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About the Author
If you are a dreamer, come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar
A hope-er, a prayer, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender come sit by the fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in! Come in! ...Silverstein
On an average day, she's usually surrounded by a dwarf with a curious addiction to coffee, a moody dragon and a pink pixie with a large sweet tooth.
When not writing books, she can be found daydreaming about faraway places, enjoying a cup of coffee with the dwarf, sharing a laugh with the moody dragon (when he's in the mood) and sitting on a rainbow of treats with the pink pixie.
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Max is, I'm assuming, somewhere between 9-12 -- like the target audience of the book -- (it's entirely possible that the book said his age and it didn't stick with me -- I'm not sure it matters that much), school doesn't really seem like his thing, he's a target of bullies, doesn't seem that fond of his teacher. While on a field trip, more than a couple of things go wrong, inexplicably so (shades of a certain someone's visit to the Zoo for his cousin's birthday). Before he has a chance to get in trouble, he learns that his mother has disappeared, and he's going to be cared for by a neighbor.
Soon, he learns that his neighbor, his mother -- and everyone in his subdivision -- has some sort of tie to magic. His mother hasn't just disappeared, she's been taken. Max is thrust into a world of guitar playing giants, always hungry trolls, dwarves, pixies and more family than he knew he had.
He also, it turns out, has more enemies than he knew he had -- and most of them are far worse than any school bully. Max's family are guardians of an ancient artifact that holds back great evil. Now, with his mother's life hanging in the balance, Max has to learn magic, and stand in opposition to forces he thought were fiction just days ago.
This would be a fun series to pick up for those who want something in the vein of Harry Potter, Fablehaven, or Percy Jackson. In many ways, this isn't anything those readers haven't seen before. But Cyr's take on it is about as strong as you could ask. She does some things that no one's seen before, too -- don't misunderstand -- but it's familiar enough that it's easy for a reader to feel comfortable in. Cyr writes with a good combination of lightness and tension, with enough twists and chuckles to grab her audience just right -- with an ending that almost demands a prompt reading of the sequel.
Disclaimer: This was provided to me by the author
From the moment the duck quacks, waking Max Hamby up, he is in trouble. Not because he is late for school, as he sometimes is. Nor because this was a field trip day and the last person in line to board the bus would have to sit by Ms. Higgins his seventh grade teacher who was a stickler for punctuality. Did I mention that she is also very strict? Not even when he got the attention of the Gooch brothers who bombarded him with a bunch of spitballs to the back of the head.
No, his trouble really begins when he bends down to tie his broken shoelaces which he has tripped over four times. How can that be a problem you ask? Well, it caused him to glance into a dimly lit room. A dimly lit room with a single exhibit. In the museum? Curiosity got the better of him and he leaned in to get a better look. With the help of that bully Tommy Gooch, he skidded into the room and smacked knee first into the wooden stand of the exhibit almost knocking it over. Behind him, the door is locked blocking his only exit. If that isn’t bad enough, inside the room someone speaks to him. It accuses his mother of being a thief. Of taking something of great value away from them and they want it back. It—it’s .Uh uh uh. There are no spoilers here.
What makes Max Hamby, The Blood Diamond, Book 1 a UNIQUE read is that Max is not alone in his quest to discover his mother’s fate. For part of the book, he isn’t even involved in the action because two of his neighbors, a dwarf, a troll, Bartholomew (he wasn’t always a dog you know), the Bayard, the butterfly fairies, the gnomes, the cat/bird, his grandparents, and his aunts, even Alice, are all trying to protect him from what is going to come.
Ultimately, you have to solve your own problems, and Max is no different He learns what he has to do to change the fate of his parents. As for Aunt Alice, well, she provides a wicked yet mysterious twist to the story’s ending.
Before long the weirdness is over, it's back to school for discipline and a call to his mother. The mood all changes when it is relayed his mother has gone missing and the weirdness starts again. Is Max going crazy or are these things happening and where is his mother?
The police are called in and Max is sent to stay with a family friend. This friend is who reveals a glimpse of the world Max belongs to but has been oblivious to his entire life. Magic and fantasy ensue leading to a showdown between good and evil with Max's life hanging in the balance.
I enjoyed this story and love the ending with an opening to an entire new world of stories to come. A great read for middle graders up.