Mister Max: Book Review

January 7th, 2014 by

mister-max-book-of-lost-thingsYou know how some books are like a fort you build in your living room, or like your tree house in your backyard, or like your favorite store in your town that you go to all the time? In other words, you always feel safe and welcome there — but also, it’s a place for adventures. And you know without a single solitary doubt that those are gonna be some good adventures?

Well, that’s how I felt as I read Mister Max Book 1: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt. I recently named it as my favorite book of 2013, and here’s why:

I absolutely could not wait to return to Max’s world every time I picked up the book. And that’s probably a little strange because Max’s world isn’t very happy. Well, it’s plenty happy at first — living and working with his loving and very dramatic actor parents.

But then they disappear and it’s up to Max and his grandmother to try to piece together the clues without raising suspicion and endangering Max’s parents, wherever they are. (Keep in mind, this takes place in Victorian times, so there’s no Internet to speed things along!)

While doing that, Max also takes on jobs solving other people’s problems. At first, I was weirded out that Max wasn’t 100% focused on finding his parents, but I was quickly drawn into’s Max’s other cases — and I also realized that this pace totally makes sense with Max’s character and the spirit of the book. Yes, it’s a little quaint and old-fashioned, but that’s exactly what I loved about it, as a fan of books like the Penderwicks series, which has the same feel.

My biggest disappointment is the long wait for Book 2: The Book of Secrets, which doesn’t come out until September! If only Mister Max were here to fix my problem…

— Karen

Some of Max’s success comes from choosing the right costumes for his “roles.” Karen lacks this skill and has worn the same Halloween costume for several years: Hufflepuff student!

More about Karen »

Our Favorite Reads of 2013

December 31st, 2013 by

You may have noticed various “Best of 2013” lists floating around the internets. Well, since it’s New Year’s Eve today, we’re going to jump on the bandwagon with our own list — but with a twist!

Unlike movies that are only in theaters for a limited time or songs that get played less and less on the radio, good books are a joy to discover even years after they’re originally published. So, we’re re-capping both our favorite books that came out in 2013 and also the best books that were published in the past but  were still new to us in 2013!

mister-max-book-of-lost-thingsKaren’s Favorite Book Published in 2013:
Mister Max #1: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt

This book is so delicious it deserves a review all its own — coming soon to a Kidsmomo near you! 🙂 For now, I’ll just say that this book somehow manages to find exactly the right balance between comforting and suspenseful, which must not have been easy for the author to do! Pick up this book and read about Max’s adventures after his parents go missing, and you’ll see what I mean.

okay-for-nowKaren’s Favorite Book She Discovered in 2013:
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

This book also deserves its own full review, but I’m not sure I’m going to write one — because I don’t even think I can capture just how amazing this book is. It’s really truly that goodThe story is about Doug and how he deals with: a) moving to a town he hates, b) living with a father who’s lost his way and brother with a bad reputation, and c) rescuing famous illustrations of birds that have been taken out of their original book and sold. I know, that sounds kind of like, “Wha?!” Like I said, it’s hard to convey just how funny and real and moving and AWESOME this book is. Just take my word for it and READ IT! (And also read The Wednesday Warswhich is kind of like its prequel — you don’t need to read it first in order to understand Okay for Now, but it’s just also really really good!)

Jessica-Darlings-It-List_Megan-McCaffertyNancy’s Favorite Book Published in 2013:
Jessica Darling’s It List: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection by Megan McCafferty

This was one of my most anticipated books of 2013 because I was already a fan of the author, and it did not (totally not) disappoint! Yes, you read that right. Reading about Jessica Darling and her real and faux-friends made me  miss junior high a little and laugh out loud a lot — the book is just plain flat out funny. Not convinced yet? Check out my original review!

the-secret-zoo_bryan-chickNancy’s Favorite Book She Discovered in 2013:
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick

The Secret Zoo has been on my to-read list ever since Karen recommended it in our “Animal House” Podcast — and I admit at the time of this recommendation I am only half-way through. So I’m going to cut this short so I can get back to it! But here’s what I’ve got so far: a group of kids, adventure, zoo, talking animals, adventure, should we be suspicious that the author’s last name is “Chick”?, other animals, mystery, yay! there are four more books in this series, ack! there are four more books in this series, okay gotta go.

Our Honorable Mentions:

What were YOUR favorite books of 2013? Tell us in the Comments!

— Happy New Year from Nancy and Karen!

Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

August 7th, 2010 by

Submitted by Jenna, Age 11 from Maine

Rating: ★★★★★

[Note from Kidsmomo: This book is recommended for ages 14 and up. If you want to give your parents more info on this book, send them here.]

This is an awesome book for anyone who loves suspenseful stories! It’s about a family named the Tillermans who’s mother abandons them. So Dicey, the oldest, takes care of her three siblings while trying to find a home for them to live in. They are forced to live by themselves with little money and no shelter. They decide to go to their great-aunts house, but that’s not easy. It’s an adventures stories that will leave you wondering until the end. It’s amazing how those kids could survive on their own for so long!