CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 10. . . .November 6, 2015
In The Ghost and Max Monroe, Case #2: The Missing Zucchini, the reader finds Max staying with his Grandpa Harry and Uncle Larry once more while his father spends time in China on a reporting assignment. One particular day, during an impromptu visit to the run-down “Monroe Detective Agency” run by his Uncle Larry, Max answers the phone only to discover Zeeta and Zelda Zamboni calling to say their giant zucchini had gone missing after the Harvest Parade. They had been planning on entering it into the Harvest Fair which they happened to have won several years in a row. Zeeta and Zelda had been given Max’s name from their friend, Marty the Magician, and needed help. Max and Larry are on the case once again!
The author inserts background as well as elements of The Ghost and Max Monroe. Case #1, The Magic Box into the second novel, making it easier for someone new to the series to have a basic grounding. Consequently, it wouldn’t be necessary for someone to have read the first book in order to have an understanding of the second. For example, as occurs in Case #1, the reader learns Uncle Larry is a former detective from his namesake the “Monroe Detective Agency” and that he was also known as the “Bumbling Detective because he never solved a case”. Uncle Larry is also a ghost visible to only Grandpa Harry and Max. As in Case #1, there are few illustrations, the focal point being the story.
Importantly, the “double act” or comic pairing of Max and Uncle Larry is in full force, with the personalities of the characters playing off of one another to great effect. Max is intelligent, focussed and serious, searching for clues by interviewing various subjects and analysing his surroundings. In his quest to solve the case, Max methodically interrogates several neighbours of the Zamboni sisters. There is Mr. Leonard and his puny tomatoes that are dwarfed by the zucchini plants, Mr. Jordan, the germophobe, who always comes in second in the zucchini contest, and Edwina Wacker, the baker in need of a baking contract. Each has a plausible motive for stealing the zucchini, a motive which Max considers and documents accordingly.
Conversely, Uncle Larry continues to have a penchant for creating mischief and wrecking havoc, with the fun and silliness often revolving around food. Uncle Larry can be found eating an ice cream cone that Max has to slap out of his hand, drinking lemonade while the Zamboni sisters watch it disappear peculiarly from a glass, or eating a chicken leg and throwing it into an aquarium so as not to be caught. In fairness, Uncle Larry comes up with the odd helpful suggestion, but he is limited by his outright silliness and the simple reality that he has limitations as a ghost. Not to mention it is difficult to take him seriously by any means!
Worth mentioning is the use of interesting names at different points in the book. There is “Hoodwinked Lane” which conjures images of one who is swindled, or duped – very much in keeping with the story. However the “Zamboni “ sisters is a bit of a curiosity, given that a Zamboni, to this reviewer’s knowledge, is a machine that resurfaces ice.
All in all, The Ghost and Max Monroe, Case #2, The Missing Zucchini is a very entertaining and enjoyable read, and readers really don’t know who the guilty party is until the end – when yet another case is solved by the Monroe Detective Agency!
Harriet Minuk is a librarian at Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.
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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.