book of lost things

The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt

  Max’s parents who were both well-known actors had been invited to Kashmir, India to start a theater troupe there.  They planned to take Max along with them but then they disappear.  The ship they were meant to take does not exist and they are simply gone.  That left Max with just his grandmother to care for him, but Max knew that if he was well-cared for, his grief would be too much to bear.  Instead he moved back to his family home, across the garden from his grandmother, and had to find a way to earn his keep.  It was through that that he stumbled upon a job at which he was exceptionally good:  being a detective or as Max preferred, a “solutioneer.” 

Set around the turn of the 20th century, this novel has a strong, brisk pace that is invigorating.  Max is a character who is bright, curious and always thinking.  Voigt populates his life with many other interesting characters, including is wonderful librarian grandmother, the various people he helps find solutions for, and even one demanding baby.  The entire book is a vibrant historical fiction that will have great appeal. 

One of my favorite aspects of the novel is the use of painting and creativity as a way to allow your brain space to think and figure things out.  Max is a painter, creating watercolors of the sky during different seasons.  It is this artistic outlet that is a big key to his success and creative thinking.  Voigt ties the two together clearly and also gives other characters creative outlets that make them even more well-rounded.

The first book in a new series, this book is a delight of mysteries, solutions, theater and historical fiction.  Appropriate for ages 10-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Knopf Books for Young Readers.