Volume one of an entertaining exploration series, the story of Max & Voltaire begins in a wonderful French bakery, where Max, a kitten, has been adopted by Madame Cupcake and her husband. Unfortunately, their dog, Rambo, is not too friendly to Max, so consequently he is invited to spend his days and nights in the bakery, where he will not be chased or bullied by Rambo. The charming story of the meeting between Max and Voltaire, and the many subsequent adjustments and adventures, including a new family home for Max with Madame Rosemarie and her other cats, Zoa, Tish and Say What, along with Voltaire, the white dog who is a friend to his cats. Max and Voltaire​ tackle unusual situations, and learn tolerance and ways of getting along with others. Twelve chapters of adventures (in two parts) are embellished with colorful cartoon-influenced illustrations that add to the appeal of this animal adventure tale in the village of Ferney-Voltaire, France. A helpful glossary with definitions and pronunciations of French terms is included in the beginning of "Max & Voltaire: Getting To Know You." This delightful chapter book is excellent reading for children age 8 and up.

Children's Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review, April 2015


Mina Mauerstein Bail has written a two-part story (each with six chapters) that encourages readers to get along with others.

In part one, readers are introduced to a kitten named Max that has been adopted by the Cupcake family.  The Cupcake family has a dog at their home, so Max resides permanently in the bakery they own.  While he enjoys the company and snacking on croissants during the daytime, he becomes lonely during the evenings when the Cupcake family returns home to their dog.  Madame Cupcake finds him a new home with a lovely customer, Madame Rosemarie, who already has three cats.  Each cat has their own personality and, through mutual respect, all of the cats learn to adjust to each other’s traits so that they can all get along.  Something they all have in common, however, is a fear of dogs.

In part two, Madame Rosemarie adopts a dog that was in need of more attention than his family could offer.  This dog is aptly named after a famous French writer, Voltaire, who wrote about tolerance and respect for others.  Once again the cats must adjust to this newcomer and in doing so they learn that there is no need to be afraid of others simply because they are different.

The author has used short sentence structures for beginner readers; and color illustrations break up the text of the easy to digest chapters.  While taking in a story of new beginnings and the power of kindness and helping others, children will enjoy the fun names (Madame Cupcake), the snippets of humor that are injected throughout, and the French backdrop and glossary of French words.

Max and Voltaire: Getting to Know You would make a nice read-aloud for a group setting and is also suited to individuals who are newly independent readers.

The Children's Book Review, February 2015


Mina Mauerstein Bail and I became friends when we were both working for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland and living in Ferney-Voltaire just across the border in France. We shared many interests, especially for the works of Voltaire.

Some 200 years ago, the grateful citizens of Ferney, honored Voltaire by adding his name to that of their village. In 1758 when Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire’s real name) bought the château and land on the slope above it, Ferney was a collection of run-down cottages whose inhabitants were very poor. Over the next twenty years, Voltaire put into practice his idea of when one had power and wealth one should use them for the good of all, in solidarity and respect, even for those whose opinions or beliefs one did not share. With the advantages of his fame and considerable fortune, Voltaire transformed Ferney into a prosperous village. Although at 64 he was already old by the standards of his time, he introduced modern agricultural methods and watch-making to increase the income of the villagers, battled to reduce their heavy taxes, repaired their houses and built new ones. Voltaire also built a church, a hospital, a school, a theatre and a water fountain. Many famous writers and artists visited Ferney during these years and it became a center of attraction for the arts. Then as now, the people of Ferney called him “the patriarch”.

I was deputy mayor of Ferney-Voltaire when Mina asked me to write a foreword to her story of our four-legged friends: Max (the cat) and Voltaire (the dog), both of whom she had met while in Ferney. I am happy to do so as her tale illustrated for young and old, the timelessness and universality of “the patriarch’s” message: accepting each other’s differences and helping each other, brings joy to life. Voltaire’s spirit and actions continue to inspire us and to this day we are proud to preserve and celebrate his memory.
Sylvie Lacroux - Ferney-Voltaire, August 2014

A heart-warming story of friendship and courage - something for everyone in the family. Max and Voltaire: Getting to Know You teaches life lessons in a kind and non-threatening manner. Children and adults will smile while reading this charming first in a series – and will certainly want to read the sequels.
Jennifer C Ward - Washington, D.C. December 2014

As an anthropologist, I can’t say enough the value of this book. Not only is it a brilliant story, it carries important life lessons about the value of friendship and understanding and how wonderful it is to embrace difference. What a great book for children (and I love it, too!!). Brava and kudos for Mina Mauerstein Bail.
A. Powers - Nova Scotia, December 2014

Max and Voltaire: Getting To Know You is all the more timely, given the abysses of extreme horrors, hatred, non-tolerance, extremism and violence which are spreading so rapidly. The task is immense but it is only by changing mentalities and promoting human values that we can aspire to meaningful, lasting changes for the better and a more peaceful world.  Max and Voltaire and their furry pals teach us important lessons about friendship, tolerance and caring for each other. Bravo.      
Fawaz Fokeladeh, Peace Seeker, Casablanca, December 2014

Designed & Powered by Pite Creative