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John Green
Toronto, General Paperbacks, 1991. 115pp, paper, $5.95
ISBN 0-7736-7339-3. (Panda series). CIP

Grades 4 to 6/Ages 9 to ll

Reviewed by Anna Santarossa

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

The HouseThat Max Built is a story about three friends who make a three-storey house out of discarded cardboard boxes and pieces of wood. The refrigerator box that inspired them to build such a house seems to possess magical qualities: it periodically disappears!

The children ask an eccentric old shop­keeper to help them, and it turns out that this shopkeeper is really Merlin the magician. Through the aid of Merlin's magic, the trio get transported back in time to Merlin's cave. where, nearby, King Arthur is engaged in a fierce battle.

Although this book has an interesting plot, it lacks well-rounded characters. Of the three main characters, Max is the one that is best developed. However, his main character traits are those of stubbornness and bossiness. For example, Max directs the other characters when building the house. He does not listen to their suggestions or concerns.

The development of the other two charac­ters, Perky and Amanda, is also flawed. Perky is portrayed as an overweight boy whose only concern is when he will get his next meal, even when they are in grave dan­ger. Amanda is introduced in the story as a brainy tomboy; however, this portrayal of her is never fully realized. Most of her ideas are disregarded by Max, and her easy compli­ance with Max's decisions and schemes undercuts her supposed tomboy image.

This story has plenty of action, but with­out well-rounded characters it falls short of its potential.

Anna Santarossa, Bolton, Ont.

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