The Book of Lost Things (Mister Max Series #1)

( 11 )


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, ...

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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 . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A mysterious invitation to establish a theatrical troupe in India starts off the action in the first book in a trilogy from Newbery Medalist Voigt, set in the early 1900s. Max Starling’s actor parents set sail (or do they?) for the new opportunity, accidentally (or not?) leaving him behind. Frightened and slightly hurt by their abandonment, yet determined to solve the mystery of their disappearance and maintain his independence, 12-year-old Max searches for income-earning opportunities and stumbles into detectivelike work—finding a lost dog, a missing antique silver spoon, and (secretly) reuniting two lost lovers. Max creates different characters for each of his missions, with appropriate costumes from his parents’ trunks, and encounters the requisite eclectic characters, all well-drawn by Voigt. Max has a good heart and a sharp mind, with enough self-doubt to be credible, and his adventures, while not deeply suspenseful, build in complexity and develop Max’s maturity; Voigt’s accomplished writing draws readers into every aspect of his world. A double-edged ending solves one big mystery while setting the stage for a new one. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly - Audio
In this first book in a new trilogy set in the early 1900s from Newbery Medalist Voigt, 12-year-old Max is left behind when his parents head to India to establish a theatrical troupe. But Max is unsure of whether his parents intended to leave him behind and wonders whether they were actually kidnapped, so he sets out to solve the mystery. Narrator Boehmer’s performance in this audio edition is spirited and inspired. His prim, proper tone echoes the book’s setting, and his characterizations are layered, unique, and appropriate. As Max, Boehmer is wide-eyed and green, but also filled with gusto. A fun and memorable listen. Ages 8–12. A Knopf hardcover. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
New York Times Book Review, September 15, 2013:
"The charm, the quirkiness, the quiet originality of The Book of Lost Things are immensely appealing to those of us who love the classic possibilities and styles of children's literature."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, April 10, 2013:
“An endearing, memorable protagonist and a clever plot make this a winner.”

Review, Publishers Weekly, July 8, 2013:
"Voigt's accomplished writing draws readers into every aspect of [Max's] world."

Review, School Library Journal, July 2013:
"Max displays good sense, a sensitive nature, and winning ingenuity... [a] comedic page-turner."

The Christian Science Monitor:
"A perfect read-aloud, the story will appeal to fans of fantasy, adventure, mystery, and humor."

VOYA - Sharon Blumberg
Max Starling, Mister Max, is a twelve-year-old boy who lives with his theatrical parents in the city. His parents receive a special invitation from the Maharajah of Kashmir, asking them to come to India. The main purpose is for Max's parents to create a theater company there. This sounds like an exciting opportunity for Max and his parents. It is too great to pass up. The problem is when Max attempts to meet up with his parents at the ship, there is no such ship—nor parents. Many questions abound as a result. Did his parents lie to him, were they kidnapped, or did they not receive the correct destination information? Max has to focus upon making some important decisions. He solves other people's problems, but can he solve his own? Will he live alone, or will he stay at his grandmother's house? His dilemma is somewhat reminiscent of the Home Alone movies. Will he go to school? If he lives by himself, how will he support himself? How long can this go on without the authorities intervening in his affairs? This fast-paced historical fiction novel is the first of three books involving the protagonist, Mister Max Starling. It is a great read for young teens, and for those who enjoy mysteries. Reviewer: Sharon Blumberg
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Twelve-year-old Maximilian Starling is not an orphan, but he might as well be one, for all the help you know he's going to get from his crazy actor parents! By packing off those two eccentrics on a voyage to who knows where, Voigt sets Max up in the tried and true tradition of young protagonists on their own in an adult world gone askew. Missing the boat (the elusive "Flower of Kashmir") soon turns into an extended metaphor for Max's life. In order to survive, even with his librarian Grammie's help, he needs a job, and thus is born Mister Max—entrepreneur in search of an identity. Max finds he's soon over his head in missing things—a baby, a dog, and a spoon just for starters. By the time he's acquired the obligatory sidekick, an enterprising girl named Pia, Max is beginning to wrestle with matters of the law, morality, right and wrong, ownership, and more. Soon the story settles into a charming mash-up of life, minor crime, and personal soul-searching. A few elements—a Mendelian reference to long ear-lobes, and the resolution of the subplot of Max's missing parents—seem to echo the less palatable tropes of Edwardian-era children's fiction. There's much that is engaging and funny. A little Latin, a dash of Euclid and Shakespeare, and an old love affair gone sour all figure in what promises to be the first of a series of jaunty escapades to come. Voigt (A Solitary Blue and Homecoming) is a masterful spinner of tales and she delivers in this lark of a book. Read in a NetGalley edition. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
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, NY
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781467649162
  • Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/2013
  • Series: Mister Max Series, #1
  • Format: Other

Meet the Author

CYNTHIA VOIGT is the acclaimed author of many books, including Dicey's Song,winner of the Newbery Medal, and A Solitary Blue, winner of a Newbery Honor, and Homecoming. For the body of her work, Cynthia Voigt was honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Outstanding Literature for Young Adults. She lives with her husband in Maine. 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    Great Book!

    This was a really good book I cant what for the secound one to come out. I highly recomend for grades 5-6.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2013

    When Max Starling¿s theatrical parents receive a sudden invitati

    When Max Starling’s theatrical parents receive a sudden invitation to visit India at the behest of the esteemed Maharajah of Kashmir, no less, Max is excited at the thought of an adventure overseas. But when his parents just as suddenly disappear, leaving behind a mysterious and nonsensical note, he is perplexed and more than a little scared – for both himself and his parents.

    As Max attempts to cope with the absence of his parents, he quickly realizes there is one advantage to being left alone – independence – and if he doesn’t want to lose it, he’ll need to find a job. And quick. But Max is only 12 years old (I’m sure he’d bristle at my use of the term “only”) and at that age, independence is a hard-earned gain.

    As Max rides his bike around town in a fruitless search for employment, he happens on a precocious and very lost child by the name of Angel and therein discovers his calling. Ironically, it turns out, Max is good at finding solutions to people’s problems. And not your everyday run-of-the-mill-type solution. Nope. Max finds the solution that ends up bringing the most happiness. More than a finder of things or a mere detective, Max becomes the brilliant and mysterious Mister Max, Solutioneer!

    Using tricks-of-the-trade learned from his parents, Max as Mister Max dons various disguises to interview suspects, follow leads, and sniff out the best solution. His creative and unique tactics to reveal the truth uncover a runaway child, a stray dog, a missing nephew, a lost love, a misplaced family heirloom, and, in the end, his newfound independence and a “sometimes” assistant. But being a brilliant Solutioneer can be quite taxing and in between finding solutions, Max paints clouds and wind in order to think, ponder, focus, and . . well . . . solutionize.

    As Max continues to find both jobs and solutions through both reputation and luck, he is helped and hindered by a bevy of interesting characters. His Grammie, local librarian, lives in the house behind his and is a source of support throughout, especially at the beginning when his parents first disappear. She is the one who searches for clues to the disappearance of his parents and discovers the evidence that finally points them in the right direction.

    Heading up the list of baddies are Madame Olenka, her uncle, and her cousin, known collectively as the Long-ears. While I enjoyed the badness of them, I didn’t understand the presence of them. They appear around the same time his parents disappear (coincidence?), ransack and try to steal his house, and then flee when Max and Pia (more on Pia below) don disguises and threaten to expose them. If the Long-ears feature prominently in the next two books in the series, then I wish their characters had been fleshed out a little more fully in this book. I barely got a feel for Madame Olenka (although it was definitely a oozing, slimey, gross kind of feel) and nothing at all for her uncle and nephew. If the Long-ears aren’t featured in the books to follow, then why include them at all? It would have been better to omit the Long-ears sub-plot entirely and create a better incentive for Max to look behind his parents’ framed posters. (Teaser!)

    My favorite characters  in the book are two schoolgirls named Clarissa and Pia. Clarissa is Mister Max’s first client, a deliciously spoiled and pretentious rich girl who loses a dog she never really cared about. She uses the loss of her dog to gain sympathy while wearing a black armband and rules the schoolyard with perfectly coiffed curls and a predilection for being the center of attention. Always. Her stamping and pouting and posturing in her embroidered frocks and straw bonnets are hilarious and I felt justifiably contented (and relieved) when she received the solution so richly deserved. While she doesn’t appear as often as some of the other characters, she is well-conceived and I enjoyed her obnoxious antics and those of her father. I hope she’ll make an appearance in the other books.

    Pia is another school girl, annoyingly loud, but with a heart of gold and the brains to match. While both Clarissa and Pia are from wealthy and prominent families, they couldn’t be further apart in personalities. Pia pretty much insinuates herself into Max’s life from the moment they meet and turns out to be a quite competent assistant solutioneer herself. She reminds me of Pippi Longstocking. Creative. Fun. Loud. Never a dull moment. That’s Pippi…I mean, Pia. She helps Max remember there’s nothing wrong with needing a little help now and then, even if you are a renowned and independent solutioneer.

    Mister Max seems to take place in England at the turn of the century, a time of horse dung and carriage oil, where automobiles are the exception and the streets are narrow and cobbled. The town even has a workhouse operated by an unscrupulous couple who barely fulfill their workers basic needs while they, of course, live in luxury. Max finds a solution to that problem!

    While I enjoyed Mister Max immensely, there were a few plot lines that I just didn’t get. I’ve already mentioned the Long-ears above. But I also wondered why Max didn’t use his exceptional solutioneering skills to attempt to discover what happened to his parents. Instead, as also mentioned above, Grammie did all of the research while Max was only concerned with painting and making money to maintain his independence. I wanted to scream, “Stop painting the wind and go find your parents, dagnabbit!”

    Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things ends with the discovery of an important clue to the whereabouts of Max’s parents and promises an interesting start to the next volume in the trilogy. I can’t wait to see where Mister Max’s solutioneering skills take him in his further adventures!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2015

    #2 already came out


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  • Posted September 26, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    The Author pens " Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things"

    The Author pens " Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things" in a plot filled with mystery.  A great non complicated fantasy read for middle grade children that will be sure to grab their attention and hold on to it.  I found the Author's characters to be down to earth, believable and at times a bit "quirky". Highly recommended for all middle grade children and also adults.

    This review is based on a complimentary copy from the author which was provided for an honest review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    I didnt lie it much

    Probly the only rason i picked it up and readit was becaue it had my name on the title

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014


    So when does #2 of the series come out, huh?

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  • Posted March 3, 2014

    Title: Mister Max - The Book Of Lost Things - Mister Max Book 1

    Title: Mister Max - The Book Of Lost Things - Mister Max Book 1
    Author: Cynthia Voigt
    Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno
    Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers
    Published: 9-10-2013
    E-Book ASIN: B00VJG24M
    Pages: 402
    Genre: Children's Fiction
    Tags: Mystery, Drama, Suspense
    Overall Rating: Very Good

    Mister Max: The Book Of Lost Things is set in the Victorian Era. Max Starling is nearly thirteen and grew up around the theater. As the son of two acting parents. He has even performed small parts in different plays. When his parents go to India when they are hired as acting coaches, Max remains behind to fend for himself. Something he apparently has had to do quite often in the past. The his parents disappear and Max takes on odd jobs to earn money to take care of himself. Most of the jobs are finding missing objects. While interesting it is odd that the fact that his parents are missing are not the center of the story.

    Although Max is only twelve, soon to be thirteen, many never question why he is alone with no guardian or parent and treat him as an adult. Although given the time the book is set in this is not unusual. Thirteen year olds were often out on their own on the streets making their own way when their families could not afford to feed, clothe and house them. Although I found fault with his parents for leaving Max behind when he was late getting to the boat. There is only one gangplank so they knew he was not on board and chose to go without him.

    This is the first of a series, with the second coming out is due to come out in late 2014 and a third in late 2015. The writing is geared to young people ages 9-13 in my opinion. My nephew and I have a long standing habit. He lives in another state, but when he was younger he spent weekends and holidays with me. We would sit and read when he was just a toddler. As he grew older and could read on his own we would take turns reading. Now that he and his family are so far away we get on the phone each evening and read to one another. It took us a few weeks, but we both enjoyed Max's story. He said it reminds him of the hardy boys set in the "old times". He said he wants to share book two with me when it comes out. Perhaps it will come out this summer when he comes to visit otherwise we will be making a lot of long distance calls to read and discuss it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2014


    I lilke this book.I'am Sopha habib dueben.My nunder 509-776-9087

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2014


    I thought thar Mister Max was a pretty good book by Cynthia Voight. The second book is also pretty good bbut not as good as the first one. I really like Peia.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    This is one of the master children's mystery writers, shown in E

    This is one of the master children's mystery writers, shown in Elementary Education classrooms. Her use of suspense and drama attract children to learn more about themselves and the sacrifices they are willing to make.

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  • Posted August 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Feed your child's IMAGINATION

    Could you survive alone if you were a twelve-year-old boy whose parents have mysteriously disappeared? If you’re Max Starling, from a family of adventuresome actors, you just might! Of course, to survive, you need a job, right? Plucky Max has a gift for finding things. He can analyze a situation and follow the clues with the poise of a real detective! His ability to disguise himself and utilize his parents’ acting skills makes him a hit with people in need of a “solution” to their problems and starts him on the way to a full-fledged career as a “Solutioner!” Yet, the biggest mystery remains unsolved, where are his parents?
    The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt, the first in the Mister Max Trilogy is delightful! Ms. Voigt has written with Middle Grade readers in mind with a deft pen and quirky tale filled with youthful adventure and fantasy. The stage is set without too much intense detail, and will keep younger readers enthralled and reading page after page. The cast of characters are wonderful, with Max being an over-the-top, fun, yet sweet young boy who is doing things in a larger-than –life way! Isn’t that the point of entertainment in books for younger readers? Give them just enough to feed their mind and grasp at all the possibilities and wonder!

    An ARC edition was provided by NetGalley and Knopf Books for Young Readers in exchange for my honest review.

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