Maximilian, the lucha-libre–obsessed 11-year-old from Garza’s Pura Belpré Honor winner, Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel (2011), returns to tackle a new mystery—understanding girls!
Max is now in junior high, and lucha libre is still a big part of his life. He dreams of one day taking over for his favorite luchador, the Guardian Angel. However, most of this story takes place outside of the wrestling ring and in the more subtle world of relationships. Members of Max’s family must learn to work out their differences and forgive each other for past mistakes. Max’s first girlfriend moves to another state, and as he navigates young love in a long-distance relationship, a mysterious new girl enters his life. Short chapters and the bilingual format (English text is on the left with Spanish translation on facing pages) make this book a quick read, great for reluctant readers, but it ends too quickly, before any real action begins. The sequel feels as though it is a transition book, perhaps moving toward a future series. Readers who enjoyed the first title will be pleased to continue reading about Max and his family, but this follow-up isn’t strong enough on its own to win many new fans.
Though this sequel doesn’t achieve the same victory as its predecessor, it does set the stage for more engaging rounds to come—here’s hoping. (Fiction. 9-12)