Max and the Midknights is a new series by Lincoln Peirce, the creator of the Big Nate series. I enjoyed Big Nate stories immensely with my children when they were in elementary school. I am so thrilled that this new series does not disappoint! As implied by the title, Max and the Midknights takes place in medieval times. Max is apprenticed to Uncle Budrick who is a troubadour–although not a very good one. Max, however, does not really want to be a minstrel; Max wants to be a knight. Unfortunately, at this time in history–and specifically in the kingdom where Max’s story takes place, children did not have a say in what they were going to do as adults. You were apprenticed to whatever trade your parents were in. There were also specifically defined roles for men and women. Max’s more modern attitude toward gender roles and predetermined occupations for children are key in including these “new” ideas into Byjovia’s storyline.
As a result of being robbed and finding themselves in the kingdom of Uncle Budrick’s youth–Byjovia–Max, Budrick and some friends (including a wizard) they meet along the way feel compelled to right the wrongs in the kingdom. The King is ruthless and evil; Max is determined to make life better for all the citizens of Byjovia.
Told through both comics and prose, Max and the Midknights is a delightful comic romp in an interesting new setting. Although set in medieval times, Max’s sensibilities are definitely 21st century. This allows Max’s narration to provide brilliant comedic effect alongside Mumblin’, the ditzy wizard, Uncle Budrick, the horribly bad but incredibly enthusiastic troubadour, and the other characters who pop into their story.
Kids who love Big Nate will enjoy Max and the Midknights. Because the illustrations in the comics portions of the book are integral to the story as a whole Max and the Midknights works better as an independent read or a bedtime story where everyone can clearly see the pictures, rather than a classroom read-aloud. It’s an easy read for both students just beginning to read independently and those in 2nd – 4th grade and the humor is right on target for the age group.