What. The. Heck.
The Big Max titles, of which there were thankfully only two, were written back in the 1970s. However, like most of the I Can Read! imprint they are still available in paperback or prebind.
Big Max, a Sherlock-type investigator, gets a call on his Victorian-style phone. There is a mystery! King Punchapillow in Ah-Ah Achoo has a problem. He has lost his pet giraffe. Big Max says he will be there right away and gets directions to Ah-Ah Achoo which is "between Sneeze and Gesundheit, just past Runnynose." Big Max flies in on his umbrella, with several adventures along the way, and fortunately lands on a bouncy rubber tree. He investigates the king's pets, which consist of two of everything, except Jake the giraffe. Eventually, Big Max follows the right clues and they discover Jake, who, lonely for his friends, escaped and went to join a soccer game. The king apologizes to Jake for keeping him locked up with nothing to kick but rocks and offers Big Max a million Achoo rupees but Big Max prefers to finish watching the soccer game.
The first Big Max book was illustrated by Robert Lopshire, and Lynne Cravath has a very similar art style. This is a level 2, "reading with help" and so has more complex sentences and denser text. I'm always looking for funny books featuring diverse characters, but this is...not really funny. The author apparently had Africa and India confused and the tired old stereotype of people of color with funny names is not really funny. It was reviewed as silly and funny back when it was written, but even then I can't imagine that somebody didn't say "hey, maybe it's not funny to have an "african" king with a nonsensical name? Call me deficient in humor if you will, but there are plenty of humorous, nonsensical easy readers out there that don't use tired old stereotypes. It's time this character was retired from the I Can Read imprint, in my opinion.
Verdict: Thankfully, I originally pulled this because it had an old call number and was a paperback (I'm planning to slowly replace all the paperback easy readers) and then discovered that it was falling apart. Weeded.
ISBN: 9780060099206; Published 2005 by HarperCollins; Weeded for condition and general awfulness