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Max & Maddy and the Bursting Balloons Mystery    by Alexander McCall Smith & Macky Pamintuan order for
Max & Maddy and the Bursting Balloons Mystery
by Alexander McCall Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This second in Alexander McCall Smith's Max & Maddy chapter book series is even better than the first, Max & Maddy and the Chocolate Money Mystery. On a hot summer day, the siblings receive a message - by balloon. It introduces them to famous millionaire, Harry Helium.

He pleads with them to help save his transcontinental balloon race - for the Home for Children Whose Parents Have Disappeared in Balloons charity, as well as a gold baloon worth a million and one dollars - from the sabotage that's been winnowing out contestants. What can these budding detectives say? Of course, they agree to help, and are soon in flight in Harry Helium's own balloon. The race is on!

The U.S. president makes a lengthy speech, the First Lady donates a fruit cake (that comes in very handy against a ravaging bear) and the contestants - from France, Italy, Australia, Zambia and Texas - line up. But right from the get-go, contestants' balloons are sabotaged, while Max & Maddy and Mr. Helium suffer a series of close shaves and narrow escapes. And guess who the bad guy turns out to be? You got it - their evil nemesis himself, Professor Sardine.

Of course, Max & Maddy save the race and foil the villain (he gets what he deserves and more) in another whimsical adventure. And naturally, Professor Sardine is already busy plotting his revenge, guaranteeing readers more in this thoroughly engaging chapter book series.

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