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Twelve-year-old Max has a problem: His theatrical parents have accepted a strange invitation and are now missing. While he and his grandmother wait for word of them, Max needs to find work to help with tight finances. Instead he embarks on a career as a “solutioneer.” Max very much wants to be independent, and his struggle between needing his grandmother’s help and wanting to stand on his own two feet will be very familiar to young readers. Using his parents’ characters and costumes, Max disguises himself to detect solutions for many problems. But can he solve his own? This first book in a series is a fun early-20th-century story that builds an interesting world for middle readers. Ages 8-12. (Knopf)

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