Book Title: Lori and Max (available here)
Author: Catherine O’Flynn
Publisher: Firefly Press
Publication Date: September 2019
Most Suitable For: Years 5-6
Reviewed By: Carol Carter, Librarian
Skilfully weaving together two truly charismatic and memorable protagonists with a realistic, relatable modern setting and a plot full of masterly twists and turns, Lori and Max is a brilliant pacy children’s detective story.
Immediately drawing us in with the prologue, we swiftly discover that some school charity money has been stolen and Max, the prime suspect, has gone missing. But Lori knows more than she can tell and doesn’t believe her new friend is really to blame….
From here on in, chapters alternate between the two girls as we slowly unravel the events before and after Max’s disappearance, before winding our way to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.
Lori is a budding amateur sleuth and all-round goodie-two-shoes. As well as being an orphan and a bit of a loner, she has a loving nan and stable middle-class home life. Lori’s chapters are written in the first person present tense which gives an immediacy to her thoughts as mental cogs turn and we decode the clues along with her.
Max is the new girl at school, who’s hard secretive carapace hides a difficult home life - no food on the table thanks to a gambling addict father, and no emotional support from her depressed and distant mum. Max’s chapters are written in the second person which gives us more distance to wonder what’s actually going on inside her head.
I loved so much about this book, in particular the skilful way the disparity between the girls' home lives and personalities is handled, and the realistic (and hilarious) portrayal of school life, where every day is a stream of Wow Words, confusing assemblies and trying not to stand out from the crowd.
I would very highly recommend Lori and Max as a great class reader for Year 5-6. The fast-moving plot and short 182-page length would make it perfect for those with shorter attention spans, rapidly building suspense while never sacrificing character and deeper themes.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Carol for reviewing it.
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