When Max’s unpredictable actor parents leave home without him, he earns money by finding the lost things of others. But can he find his parents?
In the first of a trilogy by Newbery winner Voigt, Maximilian Starling, son of theatrical parents, is left at the dock when he misses a boat to India, where his parents supposedly have been invited by a maharajah to start a theater. Did they intend to leave him? Are they in danger? Although his wise yet bossy librarian grandmother lives next door, 12-year-old Max wants to earn his keep and be independent. Cleverly donning the costumes and different roles performed by his missing parents, Max discovers an aptitude for finding lost things—lost lovers, a runaway child, a lost dog, a valuable spoon. He is a “solutioneer,” solving people’s problems. Voigt is a clever storyteller and wordsmith. The book is full of phrases to savor (“There was a lot of No in that Yes…”). While the solutions may be obvious to readers, the satisfying way that Max solves each one is engaging. Highly detailed black-and-white illustrations nicely reflect the novel’s setting at the beginning of the last century.
An endearing, memorable protagonist and a clever plot make this a winner. (Adventure. 9-13)