Review Detail

Dumpster Derring-do
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
4.0
When we last saw Max and Erin, they had just thwarted three inept burglars and were headed for a garbage dumpster. That's where they are now, in the middle of the night, trying to figure out a way to get home. As luck would have it, they make it out of the fenced dumpster area and end up in the back of a crowded pick up truck... which is of course being driven by the burglars! They manage to jump out, find a bike and wagon to use to get home, and then have to explain what they were doing. Since Max still has not returned his father's valuable comic book to him, he's hoping to fly under the radar, but that is hard to do since his sister and crabby neighbor saw him come in late at night. Max's father wants him to help clean the garage, and there is a goofy run in with Mr. Howell and Max's father. When the criminals show up at the school again, will Erin and Max be able to head them off, or will they be headed for another adventure in the dumpster?
Good Points
Like Kinney's Wimpy Kid books, the Dork Diaries and Max Crumbly have a cult following of young readers who like the hand drawn font, copious illustrations and goofy adventures. Max spends a lot of time opining on minutiae, such as why the trash bin at the school is so heavily guarded while the computers have no security at all. He also spends a lot of time imaging things, from soaring in his super hero cape to magically building muscles through light exercise.

The plot is sort of the reverse of books like Johnson's The Great Green Heist, Max Rylander's The Fourth Stall or Ferraiolo's The Quick Fix in that Max and Erin are not fomenting goofy criminal hijinks, but trying to prevent them. There are still mad chases through air ducts, hacking into security systems, and trying to hide their actions from parents, but our heroes are trying to stop the thieves, not perpetrate crimes of their own.

The big draw of these books is, of course, the illustrations, which have a Manga style air to them, with big eyes and exaggerated expressions. While I don't quite see the appeal of the books, they are undoubtedly popular with young readers, who will have to wait until the next book to find out how Max gets out of his latest scrape.
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