________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 8 . . . . December 7, 2007


Max Finder Mystery: Collected Casebook, Volume 3.

Liam O’Donnell. Illustrated by Michael Cho.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids, 2007.
95 pp., pbk., $11.95.
ISBN 978-2-89579-149-2.

Subject Headings:
Detective and mystery comic books, strips, etc.-Juvenile fiction.
Mystery games-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

*** /4


Did you know the woodland frog can survive being frozen solid? Max Finder here, fact collector and Grade 7 detective. Snowy Sundays mean tobogganing here in Whispering Meadows, and Alison steering means a crash is near.

Fans of the Max Finder series of graphic novel detective mysteries will be pleased to learn of the recent publication of the third volume in the series. Liam O’Donnell and Michael Cho’s creative collaboration again offers a smorgasbord of engaging activities for young readers with an eye for detail. In brief, Volume 3 offers more of the same—more mysteries, more puzzles, more challenges for young readers. For fans of the series–more fun.

     Max Finder once again teams up with his friend, Alison Santas, to tackle a variety of mysteries in their community in and around their home town of Whispering Meadows. In Max Finder Mystery: Collected Casebook, Volume 3, there are again 10 four- or six-page full-colour comic strip/graphic novel style mysteries. In order to add value to the $11.95 purchase, 10 additional single-page puzzles or activities are included in the book. These additional activities range from things such as cracking a code to carefully attending to the details of a stamp collection. The additional materials provide extra challenges and serve to enhance the primary graphic novel material. Max Finder Mystery: Collected Casebook, Volume 3 also contains supplemental “how to” information for young writers and/or artists interested in creating their own comic strips. At the back of the book, one finds the answers to the graphic mysteries and the additional puzzle material. Each graphic mystery solution also contains a detailed explanation as to why that the solution. 

     Each of the mystery stories originally appeared in OWL Magazine, but the Casebook volumes provide easy access to combined collections of the mysteries.  Although few would argue that the mysteries contained within Max Finder’s Casebook are earth-shatteringly engrossing, the reality is that the mysteries usually revolve around situations to which preteen readers can relate. For instance, in one story, Alison is on a vacation with her family. In another story, Max and friends are involved in dressing up in costumes for Halloween.

     I believe that the Max Finder mysteries may be a useful tool to help young readers develop skills that contribute to reading improvement. Abilities such as attention to detail, organization of information, and employment of various cueing systems (or clues) all contribute to one’s ability to crack Max Finder’s mysteries. Those same abilities also contribute to young readers becoming more capable.


Gregory Bryan is a member of the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Education where he teaches children’s literature courses.

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

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