________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 1 . . . . August 29, 2008

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Max the Magnificent. (Max-a-Million; Book 1).

Trina Wiebe. Illustrated by David Okum.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2008.
95 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 978-1-897073-94-0.

Grades 3-4 / Ages 8-9.

Review by Shannon Ozirny.

***½ /4

   
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Max the Business Man. (Max-a-Million; Book 4).

Trina Wiebe. Illustrated by David Okum.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2008.
95 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 978-1-897073-93-3.

Grades 3-4 / Ages 8-9.

Review by Shannon Ozirny.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
   

Trina Wiebe’s “Max-a-Million” series began in 2002 and follows the exploits of Maxamillian J. Wigglesworth III, a spunky only child with an entrepreneurial mind and a great sense of humour. While some kids might play sports or take music lessons, Max’s hobby is making money…or trying to make money. Instead of raking in the coin, Max finds that most of his moneymaking schemes usually lead him right into the heart of a mystery.


Max’s family wasn’t exactly poor. Dad made a decent salary at the newspaper and Mom worked part-time at the public library, so there was always enough money for boring stuff like food and clothes. But when Max asked his parents for something cool like the night-vision goggles he’d seen at Ed’s Outdoor Megastore, the ones with four levels of photosensitivity and an operating distance of 600 yards in starlight, the answer was always the same.

“Sorry, Max, too expensive. Why don’t you save up for something a little more ordinary, like binoculars?”

That was the problem. His whole life was ordinary. (From Max the Magnificent.)

 

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      In the series’ first book, Max the Magnificent, money-hungry Max decides to make his fortune as a magician. When the Amazing Albertini comes to town, Max hopes to learn a few tricks of the trade and cash in on the seemingly lucrative and glamorous world of the magic business. But when a backstage snooping session turns up some missing jewelry, Max must turn his attention to a whole different kind of trickery.

      In the latest installment, Max the Business Man, our hero takes a more conventional approach to making money when he decides to start a flower planting business. With the help of his best friend, Sid, and Sid’s motormouth cousin, Zeekie, Max becomes the CEO of his very first company. However, before he can get a corner office and private jet, Max must face the realities of being in charge. From disgruntled employees, to feline scat in the flower boxes, to a mystery surrounding Mrs. Clementine’s one thousand dollar orchid, Max’s summer job is anything but typical.


“The average working Joe has no chance of raking in the big bucks, right?” asked Max. His eyes sparkled with excitement. “All the money goes straight to the top dog. The head honcho. The big cheese.”

“The big cheese?” whispered Sid.

“Of course,” cried Max. “Why didn’t I think of it sooner?” He pushed aside the jar of gumdrops, scooped up his three dollars and change back into his pocket and grinned at Sid. “The only way I’m going to get rich is by going into business for myself!” (From Max the Business Man.)

 

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     As an only child, Max is easily bored. His restlessness with his “normal” life and restricted allowance is realistic and relatable. What child hasn’t fantasized about rolling in cash when his only source of income comes from mom’s change purse? Although Max’s ambitions are in the shape of dollar signs, he’s no one-dimensional Richie Rich. Readers soon learn that Max’s moneymaking schemes are primarily motivated by his need for excitement, and not simple greed. He is a quick-witted, likable tween who yearns for financial independence and never stops trying to make his dreams a reality.

     The first three “Max-a-Million” titles came out a few years ago, but the entire series got an attractive facelift with the release of the fourth book. David Okum’s anime-inspired cover drawings are punchy, vibrant, and perfect for “Max-a-Million”’s target reading audience of Grade 3 and 4 children. The ninety-some pages of text are also nicely broken up with over a dozen of Okum’s spunky cartoon drawings.

     All in all, eight and nine-year-old children will find the “Max-a-Million” series satisfyingly formulaic and genuinely entertaining. The combination of humour and mystery is right on, and Wiebe has hit the jackpot with her industrious young hero.

Highly Recommended.

Shannon Ozirny has a M.A. in Children Literature and makes a little less than a million dollars as the Vancouver Public Library’s Canadian Book Camp Coordinator.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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