The Solutioneer

Cynthia Voigt, Alfred A. Knopf, January 23, 2013, 367 pages

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Important Characters

Max Starling is the son, and only child, of William and Mary Starling, the owners of the Starling Theatrical company. Max often has minor roles in his parents plays and travels with the company, but he enjoys painting more. His father likes to say that, "After twelve years, a boy's parents have done all they can. He's ready to be independent!" So when his parents leave him behind after saying that they'd take him on their trip to India, he tries to be independent by not moving in with his grandmother and becoming the solutioneer so he can buy food and pay the bills. He is successful at being the solutioneer because he knows how to act. Max pretends to be different people in different disguises to solve his cases.

William and Mary Starling are Max's parents. They are both actors and like to be theatrical, even when they are not on stage. William loves adventures, and is very outgoing. Mary usually doesn't get noticed by people, and she goes along with whatever her husband does.

Aurora Nives (Grammie), is Max's grandmother and Mary's mom. She is the city librarian and a former grade school teacher. Grammie took care of Max a lot when he was little. She is the person who he can always count on. Grammie is also very bossy.

Pia Bendiff is Max's part time assistant. She is around Max's age and goes to Hilliard School. Pia gets bullied because kids don't like her ideas and they think they are better than her because her father sells beer, but he also has other businesses. Which is why they are rich. Pia is spirited, clever, and stubborn.

Ari Barthold is Max's tutor and tenant. He is also a university student, and the next Baron Barthold. Ari did not want to be the Baron. He wanted to be independent from his family. Ari is very kind and helpful.

Plot Summary

Max's father, William, received a letter that he said was from the Maharajah of India. Max's father said that the Maharajah wanted William and Mary to come to India and create a theater company for him, find talented people, and teach them how to act. But the letter only came with two boat tickets, so he said that he would send a telegram to the Maharajah asking him for another ticket. The next day, his father said he received the extra ticket. The day they were all supposed to get on the Flower of Kashmir, Max had a painting lesson and his father said he could go, but he was to be at the dock by eleven-fifteen. He made it to the dock on time, but there was no Flower of Kashmir. Max asked the Harbormaster about the Flower of Kashmir. The Harbormaster said that he hadn't seen any boat by that name, but that there was a note left for him. The note was very mysterious. His father said this adventure was not for him, and that he should wait with his grandmother. He then went to the library to see his grandmother. He told her what happened, and she said that he would stay with her until his parents returned. Max started thinking about what his father said, that after twelve years, a boy is ready to be independent. Two days later, Max decided that he should try to be independent, so he moved back into his own house. He still went to Grammie's house every night for dinner, where they would discuss the issue of his parents and how to find them. Grammie started doing research to see what she could find out about the ship his parents left on. Max also tried to get a job, because the way he figured it, you have to be self supporting to be independent. He decided to stop going to school, so Grammie started tutoring him in the subjects she knew, and hired him a tutor named Ari for math. Whenever Max went out, he wore a disguise and took on the personality of one of the characters from his parents plays so that no one would recognize him, because he was supposed to be in India with his parents. Max tried to find work, but no one would hire him in the New Town or the old city. While Max was out looking for work, he found a lost little boy. Max helped him find his mother. The little boy's mother paid him, and recommended him for another problem solving job. Max went on to solve multiple mysteries and decided to call himself, The Solutioneer. He later meets Pia at Hilliard School while trying to solve a case. She becomes his part time assistant and helps him solve mysteries. Grammie found out through her research, that there is no Maharajah of India. She found a newspaper from South America with Max's parents on the front page. Mary and William were in Andesia, a small South American country, of which they are now the king and queen! In the picture, Max's parents are holding hands with their arms outstretched, just as they would on stage there was trouble. Max and Grammie fear that Max's parents are in danger, but they need to find out more. The Solutioneer continues his search for his parents in the second book, The Book of Secrets.


Max's parents left the country without him. They said that they would all go to India together on the Flower of Kashmir, a ship, but when Max gets to the dock he is told that there is no boat by that name nor are there any boats going to India. Max and his grandma work together to figure out the mystery behind his parents disappearance. Max has to figure out how to survive on his own, with the help of his grandma. In order to survive, he needs to find a job. Max also needs to keep studying, so his grandma tutors him and hires Ari to tutor him in math. Ari becomes Max's roommate in exchange for the tutoring. Max finds a job solving people's problems. He meets Pia during one of his cases, and she becomes his assistant.

Quotation Explanation

Max's father said, "After twelve years, a boy's parents have done all they can. He's ready to be independent!"

This quote is important to the story, because this is why Max tries to live own his own and have a job. He wants to be independent just like his father said a twelve year old could be.

Book Review

Mister Max is my favorite book series. I think the book would have been better if the problems he had to solve were more complicated. I liked the book because it has different mysteries that Max has to solve. I also like that the story is written in the third person, so that the reader can objectively see how each character feels and what they're thinking.