CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 41 . . . . June 24, 2011
This collection of graphic mysteries features 10 comics and two short stories in the latest volume of OWL Magazine's Max Finder Mystery Casebook. Starring junior high amateur detective Max Finder and his friends, the casebook is filled with mysteries ranging from a cheerleading competition, the theft of an expensive Halloween costume, graffiti, a stolen exam answer key and others. Besides the 10 comic format mysteries, there are two short story cases, a school yearbook with pictures and write-ups of the key characters and 'Extra Stuff' with pointers on How to Be a Detective and questions for the writer, illustrator and creator of the book.
The mysteries in Max Finder Mystery: Collected Casebook Volume 5 are varied and will appeal to the targeted preteen audience. The graphic format provides both textual and visual clues which supply the reader with details to help solve the mystery. The dialogue in both the mysteries and short stories adds interest and an informal tone to the reading. Although the font is small and at times the panels can be cluttered with text and speech balloons, the colourful comic artwork adds that visual appeal which attracts readers to graphic novels. Preteen readers will appreciate the challenge issued at the beginning of the book: "But remember: real detectives never peek." This invites the armchair sleuth to examine the clues closely, to go back and look at details and then to compare their solution with the explanation of the clues, red herrings and the conclusion provided at the end of each mystery.
Creator Liam O'Donnell and present writer Craig Battle provide upper and middle years readers with a collection of mysteries that have an ease of reading combined with action and intrigue. The solve–it yourself format invites even the reluctant reader to be observant and involved in the story as the mystery and clues unfold. The engaging graphic layout by Ramón Pérez is highly appealing to the preteen audience. Teachers will appreciate the suggestions provided at the back of the book on how to use Max Finder mysteries in the classroom.
Janice Foster is a retired teacher and teacher-librarian from Winnipeg, MB.
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