Due to the terrific response to our December, 2017 post HERE about great reads for kids, we are going to regularly be featuring new (or favorite) books for middle grade and young adult readers. I’ve listed the link to MMGM below as well. This week under The Magic Gazebo, where I like to sit for the reviews, is a super middle grade adventure by author Peter Lerangis. You may already know him from his fantastic series based on Greek myths, The Seven Wonders. He’s started a new series recently based on the Jules Verne adventures of old.
Max Tilt: Fire The Depths
What is it? A retelling of the Jules Verne classic, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, from the perspective of his great, great grandson Max Tilt.
Rating: 5 (out of 5 stars)
Clean story?: Yes, you can feel comfortable letting your kids read it.
My review: In this clever and adventurous read for middle grade on up, Max is the great, great grandson of Jules Verne. He’s left alone with his older cousin, Alex, when his mom needs some medical care. The bills have piled up and young Max has tough issues to deal with. He really wants to help find any way to assist, and the situation gets desperate with Alex on hand. They climb up to the attic to try and uncover something they can sell for money, and instead discover clues for a treasure hunt. Max, who associates feelings with smells in a comical and visual way, and Alex, a risk-taking girl who stretches leery Max to believe in the possible and have a sense of adventure, both accept the quest to find a hidden treasure.
While the plot is a bit impossible in this world, I love the way that Max and Alex get swept into the submarine that leads them to a city beneath the ocean, an ice-cave in Greenland, a giant squid attack, and a desert island, all while tangling with a villain who is at times funny, brave, and truly brutal. I think it’s super that the clues come from Jules Verne himself, and lead you to want to read the original work again (or for the first time perhaps).
One of the ingredients in Peter Lerangis’s “secret sauce” is his ability to write stories with amazing suspense and page-turning monsters, creatures, and impossible adventures alongside moments of great humor. Max Tilt continues to provide those moments perfect for the middle reader (and parents too). I’ll not ruin it by getting specific but know it’s packed in there. Finally, his sense of evil is very realistic even if the characters and situations are dramatically enhanced. I enjoyed the friendship that grows between the cousins, as well as their bravery in dire circumstances. A great read indeed! Can’t wait to see the next in the series soon.
Elizabeth Van Tassel writes compelling middle-grade fantasy. She brings her knowledge and expertise in the field of gemology to the page and infuses her love of folklore into modern adventures filled with mystery. A wildfire survivor, Elizabeth also understands the both power of loss and the power of hope. And she’s always on the hunt for a great story. Elizabeth currently resides in the Bay Area with her husband and two sons. She can be found wandering the gardens of Filoli House, enjoying her favorite coffee shops, and engaging with other writers.