Monday, September 29, 2008

Lost and Found Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Lost and Found
Author: Andrew Clements
Publication: Atheneum (July 1, 2008)
Genre: Juvenile fiction, publisher states ages 8-12
Format: Hardcover book
ISBN: 978-1416909859
Full retail price: $16.99



Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Summary Statement: We Love the Author but Not This Book;

How this book came to me: I requested an advance reading copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program for the purpose of writing a review. I selected it because I have liked previous books by this author. In fact, Andrew Clements was my older son’s favorite author the year he was ten years old, and I though the book would be a good fit for our family.

The story as described on the back cover is the classic tale of switching places with someone and fooling people, but with a twist. Identical twins Jay and Ray, in their first days of sixth grade, find out upon starting at a new school that due to a mix-up the school only knows about one of them. Due to issues with being a twin and watning to see what life is like as a non-twin, they devise a plan to fool everyone. One twin gets to stay home and goof off while the other goes to school. They switch back and forth. Of course the issue is how and when will they be discovered or reveal the truth? And what kind of tangled web does lying weave? I thought the plot was a great idea and figured my boys would love the idea of the switching and the suspense.

The thing that surprised me the most about this story was that the focus of the action in the story was something never revealed on the book’s description: it is about the boys getting crushes on girls and vice-versa. Right off the bat one boy is attracted to a girl and tells his brother to tell him to be sure to tell him if he kisses her. The other brother has a love interest in a different girl, so things start to get confusing. The publisher states this on my copy of the book is for children ages 8-12 and frankly I’m a bit surprised that the focus is on physical attraction, crushes and hopes of kissing.

Lest you think I am a prude, I’ll share that my eleven year old son read the book and said it was his least favorite book by Andrew Clements. He said he was not at all interested in reading a book about boys having crushes on girls and talking about dating and kissing. I asked if the ‘switching places’ plot was exciting and fun and he said no, the story was boring and moved slowly without much suspense, and he just didn’t care about to find out what happened.

As further proof, before I read it I also let my eight year old read it as he has enjoyed reading some of the author’s other books and this is within his independent reading level. That son said he didn’t at all like the talk about the girls as he still thinks that the idea of dating, romance and kissing girls is gross. He said the book was not very exciting either, regarding the entire story and the ‘switching places’ part.

Back to my perspective the author does make many points regarding being an identical twin. The information on the book’s back cover explains that Mr. Clements has identical twin sons so he knows this information firsthand. As a parent these issues interested me. However gauging on the reaction of my two, non-twin boys within the publisher’s stated target age range I can say my non-twin boys didn’t care to hear about the issues facing identical twins, they could not relate to it. I bet all twins would love this book though.

Perhaps girls would be more interested in the budding romance of the characters of this book and about the emotional relational issues regarding the challenges that identical twins face?

Perhaps the story would have worked better and found a better fit with its audience if the two main characters were girls and this was targeted mainly at girl readers?

And the final reason why I don't like the book was the surprise in the end, when the school wanted to punish the boys for their school skipping the father threatened to sue the school and to go to the media with their mistake unless they dropped the punishment, as he did not want their school record marred with a bad mark of behavior! Talk about issues of not getting consequences for children's actions! That is so typical of what many parents today do. I bet that teachers will be disappointed to see that happen in the story as that very thing is a big complaint of many school teachers. If you don't believe me go read some teacher's blogs and read the stories they tell of their students and their families!

I’m saddened to say that it was not just me but my two Andrew Clements-book loving boys who felt disappointed by this story. Ouch, it pained me to write this review but I am being honest. I’ll rate the book a 2 because I can’t bring myself to rate anything written by Mr. Clements a 1, we enjoy his other books too much and he is a favorite author of our family’s. I actually feel badly writing this review. Sorry, Mr. Clements.

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