Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

Maxine (Bob Graham, Walker Books) 

A ‘companion book’ for Bob Graham’s beloved Max (which was 20 years old in 2020!), Maxine does stand alone but is not as rich if you haven’t first read Max, as it does assume familiarity with the Lightning-Thunderbolt family as well as Max’s own journey, referencing and echoing it at times. Like her brother, the protagonist Maxine doesn’t immediately settle into her genetically destined role as a superhero and is uncomfortable at school because she doesn’t meet social expectations. But also like Max, she comes into her own and ‘can do anything she wants’, realising that she doesn’t have to be trapped within a destiny she doesn’t fit. Maxine’s message is more incidental than that of many of Graham’s other books, such as his recent CBCA Picture Book of the Year-shortlisted Ellie’s Dragon, though is still more concrete than some, lacking the abstract poetic language of books such as 2013’s Silver ButtonsMaxine contributes to the ‘it’s okay to be different’ genre, empowering its young female character with her own strengths; she is exceedingly bright, and gently pushes the boundaries of tradition, reminding her mother that ‘things will always be changing’. The book, like many of Graham’s others, features a positive representation of a loving and supportive family of likeable, distinctive characters. But while Graham is unquestionably Australian picture book royalty, Maxine doesn’t quite rise up to his usual standard.

Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is a freelance editor, writer, and reviewer, and has worked as a bookseller at The Hobart Bookshop for over 10 years. 


Category: Junior Reviews