by Julia Buckley
Back when I was a kid--maybe first or second grade--my parents entered me in a children's book-of- the-month club. Of course this was long before e-mail or even computers, so it was when the notion of mail was still almost glamorous, even exotic, to a child who had no correspondents. I looked forward to that brown package every month with great excitement, and when it arrived and I opened it, there was always some great new book inside, with crisp pages and new-smelling ink.
I was reminiscing today about those earliest books--the first ones I read alone. I think the one pictured here--BIG MAX--may have been my first mystery.
Big Max was a wonderful book: the tale of a detective who traveled by umbrella and was hired to solve a case for the King of Pooka Pooka, who had lost his beloved elephant.
I can still remember the joy of getting BIG MAX and reading it again and again, but also the thrill of mystery. I'm not sure if I figured out the ending or not, but I know it was satisfying, even to my seven-year-old self. Eventually I moved on to such sophisticated fare as Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames, and after that I read single-title suspense novels by authors like Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney and Victoria Holt.
Big Max is still in print and available to a whole new generation of children (and perhaps future mystery lovers). Thank you, Kin Platt, for my first mystery reading experience.