“Max Helsing and the Beast of Bone Creek” is Curtis Jobling’s latest monster book. It’s the sequel to “Max Helsing and the Thirteenth Curse,” the first in the middle grade series. This time, Max and his friend Syd are taking the summer off, abandoning their monster-hunting to relax at summer camp. Or are they?
Where Max goes, trouble is sure to follow. But this time, Max ends up in a camp in the middle of a forest filled with magical creatures. The legendary Bigfoot is the least of his concerns. And is Bigfoot the mysterious “Monster of Bone Creek”?
When a couple disappear very mysteriously one night, and then there are more disappearances, the campers grow worried, and the media descends on the campground. But Max has met some of the magical creatures, and they are not dangerous — but perhaps in danger themselves.
It’s up to Max to solve the mystery of what is plaguing the forest creatures. He does it with the help of his friend Syd, his parent-figure Jed, and young neighbor Wing Liu (all characters who demonstrate diversity). The story is filled with humor — a lot of humor — and some very touching scenes. Jobling is an expert at combining scary scenes with a wise-cracking hero.
Jobling manages to bring a sense of moral justice into play with his inclusion of Max’s nemesis, Abel Archer, a British monster-hunting cousin. Archer’s goal is to kill as many monsters as possible, even if they are harmless. Max and many in his family have helped non-threatening magical creatures, and in fact, he lives with a few of them. Max believes in co-existing, Archer believes in annihilation. The reader will definitely root for Max and his moral beliefs.
Great for any middle grade reader, this would also be a wonderful class read aloud for third grade and up.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Viking, for review purposes.