In Boy Between Worlds: The Cabinet of Curiosities, twelve-year-old Max Mead discovered he could travel back in time with objects from his grandfather’s cabinet of curiosities. In book two, The Novice Collector, Max spends his days learning to master the cabinet’s ancient magic, escaping at night with his new friend Youssef to explore the streets of Cairo. When the Lieutenant, leader of a local antiquities trafficking gang, resurfaces with a plan to steal treasure belonging to the Cairo Museum, Max must use what he’s learned of the cabinet’s magic to stop the Lieutenant before it’s too late. Audience: Middle grade; 178 pages/37,878words Book contains bonus material: information about ancient Egyptian artefacts, myths and locations mentioned in the book
Plot: On his thirteenth birthday, Max Mead wakes up battered and bruised in the villa of grandfather, an antiquities expert, in Cairo. Grandpa, owner of the magical Cabinet of Curiosities, makes Max a novice collector under his tutelage and is eager to give Max the information he needs before it is too late in this adventurous tale.
Prose/Style: The vocabulary and syntax are appropriate to a YA audience and the story flows effortlessly, cleverly integrating the pedestrian and the supernatural, making the magic seem like a normal part of Max’s experience.
Originality: This is a sequel to Boy Between Worlds: The Cabinet of Curiosities, but a synopsis of that book at the beginning of this one means the reader can dive right in. Huijgens gives great importance to this particular birthday, implicitly acknowledging the tradition in many cultures that children have achieved a significant level of maturity and responsibility when they turn thirteen.
Character Development/Execution: In this coming-of-age story, Max is able to determine and articulate how he wants his life to be different from the way it has been in the past. Nonetheless, he is still a child and subject to childish behavior. He learns to take responsibility for his choices and their consequences so that he can play the part he has been destined for in the restitution of Egyptian patrimony, which, his grandfather tells him, cannot continue without his participation.
Blurb: Max Mead is a splendid boy to go adventuring with--smart, articulate, independent. He is armed with his grandfather's tutelage and a magical Cabinet of Curiosities. How with the thieves of Egypt's historical artifacts stand a chance?
Date Submitted: August 29, 2021