One dark and stormy night, the lights go out and a little girl and her grandmother are left in the dark without a TV, VCR, or computer. The thoroughly modern girl is frantic. Her wise grandmother laughs and calmly begins to tell the child a story of another child in another time.
"Once there was a girl who lived up in the mountains, in a clearing you could fit in your apron pocket. . . ." The girl in the grandmother's story becomes lost in the snow and must spend a night in the woods. The story is about how she creates shelter, finds food, orients herself, and survives the ordeal. Working closely together, author Paul Fleischman and illustrator C. B. Mordan have created a unique and beautiful book. The illustrations are stunning. Mordan created the masterful black-and-white drawings with ink on clayboard, but they look alternately like fine etchings or woodcuts. Lost! is also smoothly written, with vivid detail and not a single extraneous word. The introduction and wrap-up, with the grandmother and child, are entirely in realistic dialogue. The most unusual aspect of this book is that the grandmother's story is accompanied by excellent illustrations of two hands creating the key points with string a house, a dog's head, a jay, the North Star, and others. In the back of the book, young readers will find more information about the unlikely topic of playing with string. Detailed explanations and diagrams explain how to move from one string-picture to the next, progressing through the story.
The author begins this final section with, "Before television, before movies, before books, before written language, there was string. . . . " The tone here is not nostalgic or historical; it is celebratory. Lost! (ages 8-12) is about a glorious adventure that is just as readily available to this generation as to any previous generation the adventure of exercising the imagination.