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  • Writer's pictureSandy

The Quest Diaries of Max Crack, by Jules Faber

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

The Quest Diaries of Max Crack bristles with energy, action and adventure. As the story opens, our young protagonist, Max Crack, has moved with his family to a new town. In order to help with his adjustment to being the new kid, Max sets himself a series of quests, including making a new friend, winning a trophy and solving a mystery.

The reader is immediately launched into the action as Max starts to explore his new surroundings. The town has flooded, so what else is there to do but jump into the floodwater on your inner tube for a rapid ride? Turns out this isn’t Max’s greatest idea, as he gets thrown off the tube into the water and hits his head. Fortunately he is saved by the high-spirted and affable Frankie, who seems to share Max’s love of adventure and creative pursuits.

Max quickly makes a new friend in Frankie, and the two launch into a series of adventures - including exploring a deserted fun park, taking part in a spelling bee, creating comic books and searching for treasure.

This book is visually appealing, presented in diary-style format, with lined pages like a notebook. Various words are presented in bold or underlined for emphasis, and the quirky drawings are full of warmth and fun (if you think the drawings look familiar, it's because Jules Faber has also illustrated Anh Do's wildly popular 'Weirdo' series, along with various other junior fiction books). The illustrations are an essential part of this story, with the dialogue between Max and Frankie presented in comic-style form. The intimate style of telling story gives the reader a sense of being privy to Max’s inner-most thoughts.

I love that this book shines a light on the joy of creativity, and the process of creating something. Through observing Max and Frankie creating their own comic books, young readers may be inspired to create their own stories and drawings, and are shown how the act of creating can be an adventure in itself.

While this book is full of puns, jokes and hilarity, deeper messages are also highlighted - in relation to family dynamics, friendship and team work, being the new kid, being an only child as opposed to being the youngest in a big family, and the importance of being kind. When there is misunderstanding, the boys find a way to work through it, discovering that they work better together as a team. Max learns about sharing and compromise, about the necessary give and take of friendship.

While this story exudes humour, fun, and adventure, the beating heart of this book is the friendship between Max and Frankie. It is the boy’s friendship that adds much heart and warmth to this rollicking story of adventure and mystery.

This is quality reading for kids who like a little more depth and storyline, but also enjoy lots of illustrations to break up the text.

Mr 8 and I are now on our own quest to read book number two in this fabulous series – Crack up. We can't wait to see what Max and Frankie get up to next!

Published by Pan Macmillan Australia

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