Want personalized picks that fit your family?

Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.

Get age-based picks

The Lost Girl

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Lost Girl Book Poster Image
Imaginative, creepy twin tale full of love, magic, wisdom.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Besides being a great story, The Lost Girl is packed with often obscure but fascinating information -- DNA and how identical twins come to be; history and information about London; the ways and habits of crows, who play a large role in the tale. Also thought-provoking moments, as when a present-day character finds a child's book of knowledge from 1947, notices that many of the countries no longer exist and many of the "facts" have been proven wrong, and wonders if the same thing will happen when kids of the future read media from our time. Iris startles her teacher by doing a report on Presidential Assassination Attempts. The story takes place in Minneapolis, and some of the story's disappearing objects are famous local art works, like Calder's "Spoonbridge and Cherry."

Positive Messages

Girl power is big here, in a way that supports differences rather than enforcing conformity. Strong messages of friendship, family, working together, and the magic that results. Also, learning to see things from other people's point of view, and thinking about that before you speak.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There's a creepy adult villain who imprisons, enchants, and kills his victims, among other bad things, and he's all the scarier because of the long path of interesting distractions leading to the discovery. But the forces arrayed against him are formidable, including fierce, protective Iris who's profoundly suspicious of just about everything, and also shy, fragile Lark, who may be tougher than Iris gives her credit for. A number of adults show a lot of quiet, understated wisdom, even when being yelled at by kids (who usually have a pretty good reason to be so upset). Also helping out: other kids banding together to come to the rescue, a narrator whose identity doesn't emerge till the end, and a flock of crows.

Violence

A villain imprisons, transforms, and sometimes kills his victims with magic. Mention of when, in "Hansel and Gretel," Gretel tricks the witch and pushes her into the oven. Real-life conflicts and scary stuff, from mean kids at school to a creepy-looking store and lots of crows.

Sex

One girl has 26 snails. "I started with two... but then... you know snails."

Language
Consumerism

Real-life products and services are part of the story, like when the girls use Skype to stay in touch with their father, who's away on a work assignment. Superheroes, especially Captain Marvel and the fact that there are relatively few girl superhero stories, also come up.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Anne Ursu's The Lost Girl is an emotionally complex story about identical, inseparable 11-year-old twin girls separated for the first time when they start fifth grade. And that's just the beginning of the unsettling events, as a peculiar store opens up in the neighborhood, a flock of crows settles in, and objects start disappearing all over Minneapolis. Magic, both scary and kind, plays a strong role in the plot; so do friendship, teamwork, family, and quick thinking. The Lost Girl is the exceptionally rare book whose storytelling is so skilled and touch so light that it packs in a whole lot of wisdom and life lessons without the slightest sense of talking down to either the developing character or the enthralled reader. A villain imprisons, transforms, and sometimes kills his victims with magic. "Hansel and Gretel," especially Gretel tricking the witch and pushing her into the oven, comes up. Real-life conflicts and scary stuff, from mean kids at school to a creepy-looking store and lots of crows.Violence includes a villain imprisoning, transforming, and sometimes killing his victims with magic, as well as real-life conflicts and scary stuff, from mean kids at school to a creepy-looking store and lots of crows.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Ever since they were sickly preemies in incubators, identical twins Iris and Lark have been better off together, and everyone knew it. But as THE LOST GIRL opens, the inseparable but very different twins, now 11, get the shocking news that they'll be in different classes when they start 5th grade. The adults seem to think they need to be more independent. Fragile, artistic, imaginative Lark is terrified; fearless, protective, suspicious-minded Iris, who's been known to call teachers names, is sure she can browbeat the adults into righting this hideous mistake.

Meanwhile, a weird antique store opens up in the neighborhood. Its proprietor is a little creepy. Also, a flock of crows settles in. And, all over Minneapolis, from shiny trinkets to priceless art works, things seem to be vanishing into thin air.

Is it any good?

It doesn't get much better than Anne Ursu's complex, insightful tale of two twin girls, their strong bond, the "chisel people" who try to split them up, and strange doings in Minneapolis. There's a lot of wisdom and educational info packed into The Lost Girl, but it's woven into the page-turning story with the skill and empathy of an author who's clearly never forgotten what it feels like to be a kid.

"...they'd talked quickly and brightly and confidently, words tumbling out of their mouths like polished stones.

"But now Iris had to wonder if they'd been talking like that to distract the girls, like waving something shiny in front of their faces so they'd miss the monster crawling toward them. Grown-ups pretend that if they don't talk about things, kids won't know they're there. But you do know, at least you you know something is there: you can see the weird blank space where the things they aren't talking about are supposed to be and you can see that something is lurking just behind it but you know you are supposed to pretend that you haven't noticed anything."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how twins are portrayed in The Lost Girl. How are twins and other multiples seen in different stories and cultures? Do you know any kids who are twins or triplets? How are their lives different from yours? Do they get asked a lot of lame questions the way Iris and Lark do?

  • How would you feel if suddenly one of your parents had to go away for months and you could only talk on Skype?

  • Have you ever wanted to be in one teacher's class at your school, but been assigned to someone else? How did it go?

Book details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love magic and family stories

Our editors recommend

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate