I recently finished a series that I have enjoyed tremendously: The Mister Max series by Cynthia Voigt. I started them in audiobook, and after waiting impatiently for my library system to acquire the last one in audiobook, grew too antsy and finally grabbed the hardcopy of Mister Max: the Book of Kings just so I could finish the story.
In the first book, Mister Max: the Book of Lost Things, Max Starlings’s parents, famous actors, plan to take him with them for a command performance in India. But when he shows up to board the boat, his parents have apparently sailed without him. Troubled, he returns home to his grandmother and together they work to figure out just what has happened to the Starlings. In the meantime, his grandmother is unable to support him, so Max has to figure out how to take care of himself while continuing his schoolwork. He discovers that he is very good at solving problems for people, and his acting abilities enable him to become the characters that help him solve the problems.
That might sound really weird and complicated, but it’s totally cool, I assure you.
He picks up a sidekick, Pia, a girl who is very determined to become a detective just like Max. Only Max is just as determined that he is not a detective; instead, he styles himself The Solutioneer. In the second book, Mister Max: the Book of Secrets, he continues his quest to locate and then rescue his parents, trying to solve the riddles that surround their strange disappearance. He continues his business as the Solutioneer, and tries to keep Pia in line. In the final book, Max and his friends have to figure out how to rescue his parents and keep themselves alive at the same time.
The audiobooks were very nicely done, read by Paul Boehme who does an excellent job of voicing the different characters and bringing them to life. The paper books are full of wonderful illustrations by Iacopo Bruno. Put these books into the hands of entrepreneurial kids, kids who like mysteries and detectives, kids who like acting, and kids who like books about self-reliance.