Lost and Found: Adèle & Simon in China

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Lost and Found: Adèle & Simon in China Book Poster Image
Lots of fun in exquisitely illustrated China travelogue.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of information about early 20th century China, with extended notes about each of the sites the kids visit. Sites include Great Wall, silkworm farm, Forbidden City, bamboo forest. Map of China with route marked and legend of places visited. Elements of Chinese culture such as abacus, ink painting, monks. Chinese characters in signage. Modeling of writing postcards home. Search-and-find feature for visual discrimination.

Positive Messages

It's fun to travel to foreign lands, meet their people, and experience their cultures. Cultures that are different from ours are interesting. Writing postcards and letters is fun. Photography is a good way to document and re-experience travel.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The kids are both curious about and open to another culture and game to experience it. They like to learn things. Adèle is a loving older sister, patient when her younger brother loses things. Adèle writes frequent postcards home to mom, modeling letter writing. Adèle learns photography.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lost and Found: Adèle & Simon in China by Barbara McClintock (Adèle & Simon) brings back the same two kids featured in two previous books, one set in early 20th century Paris and the other in America. In this one, the kids travel to China, and the younger brother continues to lose his belongings, providing humor as well as an opportunity to search the very detailed art for all the items left behind. Jam-packed with information about China that's elaborated in an afterword, the story's told as postcards written by Adèle to her mom. So it has a fun, newsy, conversational feel. Featuring cultural information, history, a search-and-find game, and exquisitely detailed art, this book's a welcome addition to any child's collection, and will beg for rereading.

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What's the story?

In LOST AND FOUND: ADELE & SIMON IN CHINA, Parisian kids Adèle and Simon travel by steamer to visit their Uncle Sidney who tours them all over China. In a busy Hong Kong market, the uncle buys Simon a host of things he'll need for the trip, and at each subsequent stop, Simon loses one. The uncle also buys Adèle an early camera, and she documents their trip both by taking photographs and by writing postcards to their mom. The kids' travels take them to a silk farm, the Forbidden City in Peking, the Great Wall, the desert, a monastery, and a bamboo forest. At the end of the book when Adèle develops her photos, readers discover where Simon dropped his belongings and can go back and search the art to find them.

Is it any good?

This charming book with a classic, old-fashioned feel has lovingly detailed art, lots of information about early 20th century China, and a fun search-and-find game. Lost and Found: Adèle & Simon in China is expertly packed. Info about another culture and era? Check. Rich beautiful art that makes you pause to search each page? Check. And all these elements are delivered in a fun, engaging story.

Barbara McClintock's a masterful author-illustrator, and this book surpasses even the earlier ones in this series, though they garnered lots of attention. Here, she isolates the lost items both at the beginning and end of the story so readers are very clear what to look for. And Adèle's cards home make the telling even more fun. The scenic spreads are meticulously researched, and we know we're in good hands from the opening art in which a smoky dragon blows out of the arriving boat's smokestacks. This captivating book's a true gem.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the things Simon lost in Lost and Found: Adèle & Simon in China. Could you spot them in the pictures when you first read the book? Did it help to study the "photographs" at the end?

  • Have you read the previous two books about Adèle and Simon? Are those told differently? Why do you think the author decided to tell this one using postcards from Adèle to her mom?

  • How can you tell that this story takes place about 100 years ago? What details in the story or art let you know?

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