Lori and Max and the Book Thieves

Authored by Catherine O'Flynn
Published by Firefly Press

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Lori and Max are back in their second adventure on the lookout for clues to all kinds of mysteries! This charming stand-alone adventure reintroduces the two girls: Lori always writing down everything in her notebook, convinced that even the smallest detail can reveal big possibilities, and Max with her much-adored dog, Fang.

In this story, we learn more about Lori’s family, whilst Max and her mum are put in a difficult situation. Meanwhile, the disappearance of a precious book is at the centre of several curious mysteries that are all wrapped up very satisfyingly at the end.

It’s wonderful to see the detective novel receiving a high profile in children’s literature at the moment, with Robin Stevens, Fleur Hitchcock and Sharna Jackson as just some of the top names ringing the changes for a new generation of mystery lovers. Catherine O’Flynn’s new book adds another dimension to the genre: along with the exciting hijinks, cracking dialogue that’s as sharp as a pin, and lovably eccentric characterization, she weaves a thread of emotional empathy through the story, so subtle and gentle that the final ‘reveal’ at the end is quite beautiful and utterly poignant.

There’s clearly more to come for the two girls – the ending leaves room for further exploits and perhaps further development of the characters as they get older – the place of growing up and its relationship to the special bond between parents and their children is evident in the final pages.

Children will really enjoy the fun and wildly exciting plot of Lori and Max and the Book Thieves. There’s also the delight of having the story told from different viewpoints: Lori tells her own story while Max takes centre-stage in the alternating, ‘third-person’ chapters. The effect gives the young reader a sense of narrative perspective that gently challenges the traditional storytelling mannerisms with which they may be more familiar.

Overall, a great read-aloud or individual read for Year 4 plus.