A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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. "Hansel and Gretel," especially Gretel tricking the witch and pushing her into the oven, comes up. 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.
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 fifth 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 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?
- Author: Anne Ursu
- Genre: Emotions
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Walden Pond Press
- Publication date: February 12, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: November 30, 2020
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