________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 18 . . . . January 16, 2015


The Ghost and Max Monroe. Case #1, The Magic Box. (The Ghost and Max Monroe).

L. M. Falcone. Illustrated by Kim Smith.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2014.
87 pp., pbk., hc. & eBook, $6.95 (pbk.), $12.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77138-017-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77138-153-6 (hc.).

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Harriet Minuk.

*** /4



"It's a case Max! What should I do?"

"Take it!"

"Are you nuts? Can't you see I'm dead?"

Larry was jiggling up and down nervously and staring at the drawer.

Max said, "You've been given a second chance - just like you wished for."

Larry stopped jiggling. "You're right! This is a second chance! And maybe, if I solve this case..." His eyes got misty, and he sat down slowly. "The Monroe name will get its honor back."

The Ghost and Max Monroe. Case #1, The Magic Box is the first book in the "Ghost and Max Monroe" series. Max is a young boy who, on occasion, stays with his Grandfather Harry when his father's job as a news reporter takes him away from home for extended periods. Exploring the area one summer day, Max heard a sound. "Someone was crying. The sound was coming from behind him."

internal art      Following the sound, Max came upon an old rundown house with a wooden sign that said, "The Monroe Detective Agency." Max questioned his grandfather who clarified that his brother, Larry, was a detective, albeit not a very good one, having never solved a case. Harry explained to Max that, even though Larry had died, his ghost continued to haunt the detective agency. As soon as Max finally meets Uncle Larry, a self-professed ghost and "nincompoop", Larry states he wants a second chance to clear the Monroe name and make things right.

      When Marty Macbee the Magician calls, Larry has his second chance. Marty has caused Daisy Dee to disappear from her birthday party after conducting a magic trick, and he needs help finding her. With Max's help, the two join forces, and Larry is back in business!

      The plot is dubious at best, and, even though there are distinct chapters that have sections with catchy headings (Can't you see I'm Dead, Stink Eye) the story flows unevenly which could be confusing to a young reader. Nevertheless, there is plenty of lighthearted dialogue and action to keeps things fast paced, and the mood is definitely of a higher intensity and that serves to generate excitement. There are very few illustrations as the text is the focal point.

      Importantly, the characters are sufficiently endearing and attention-grabbing to keep a child's interest, with the daffy antics of Uncle Larry leading the way. Suffice to say, Max and his Uncle Larry are like a comedy team at times, a team in which Max is the comedic foil to Larry's overall bumbling behaviour and silliness. Max clearly thinks and behaves maturely, particularly as indicated by the questions he asks the suspects being interviewed. Compiling the evidence systematically and evaluating the clues, Max is able to ascertain that Daisy's sister Iris is the culprit.

      The Ghost and Max Monroe. Case #1, The Magic Box is both humorous and fun. Children will most assuredly look forward to the appearance of Case #2, The Missing Zucchini next year.


Harriet Minuk is a librarian at Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

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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