Ms. Voigt penned a fun, clever children’s mystery that kicks off a new series. In this story, we’re introduced to Max Starling and we’re told of the adventure he starts on when he goes looking for his parents, who were supposed to go on a trip to India, but disappeared instead. It starts out by explaining how his theater owning parents were given an invitation by Maharajah of Kashmir to go to India to create a theater company there. When Max arrives at the docks to join his parents on the excursion to India, neither of his parents are there waiting for him. To make matters worse, no one has even heard or seen the boat, Flower of Kashmir, which was supposedly sent to pick them up. But luckily for twelve-year-old Max, his grandmother lives next to him. Grammie is the town librarian and she just gets by with her salary. Since she is now going to have to take care of Max, it’s going to be harder on her, so Max decides to take on some small jobs in order to help his grandmother financially. It’s here in which he discovers he has found the perfect job for himself being a “Solutioneer.” He has solved the town people’s mysteries in which he helped find where missing people or pets have gone, as well as where missing objects have disappeared to. He’s such a success at this newly acquired job that the town people start recommending him to others. But no matter how much he finds the solutions to other people’s problems, he just can’t seem to find the answer as to where his parents have disappeared to.
I loved this story because it showed how creative and intelligent Max was to start a new job for himself to help his grandmother financially now that she was caring for him. I enjoyed that this was a book of mini mysteries and having the biggest mystery of all being that his parents disappeared, left the door open for this adventure to continue on. As I was reading this, I definitely got an old-fashioned feel to the storyline and setting – which to me only added to the overall presentation of the story. All-in-all, I thought it was a great lead into a brand new children’s mystery series.
When Max realizes his parents aren’t at the docks where they were all supposed to meet, he worries that something happened to them. So he decides to do a little investigation to see if anyone saw his parents or the boat the three of them were to leave on. In the meantime, he has to get a job in order to help his grandmother financially since now she’ll be looking after him because his parents have disappeared. Does Max finally hear from his parents? Where could they have disappeared to?
Newbery medalist Cynthia Voigt presents 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 . . .
Age Level: 8 and up | Grade Level: 3 and up