As I was beginning to mentally process what I wanted to share about this amazing book, there was a flurry of social media activity about it. Anne Ursu posted a lovely photo of a stack of author copies of Lost Girl and received a response of “Excellent. But how do we keep boys reading?”. That response was from a man - but I have seen similar thoughts expressed by women. This exchange prompted a storm of responses, and I think it is important to remember one vital thing…
BOYS CAN AND SHOULD READ BOOKS THAT CENTER GIRLS.
Oh, I’m sorry --- was I shouting? Yes…. yes…. I was shouting.
Will boys read books about girls? Yes… yes they will. As long as WE don’t make it an issue. How do we book talk a book? Do we say “This is a book girls will like?” If so… we need to knock that crap off.
So - how could you book talk Lost Girl in a way that will interest your readers?
“The Lost Girl is about a set identical twins. Twins who support each other. Twins who are identical only in appearance. Twins who know they have “better outcomes when they are together”. Then comes the year when the adults in their lives decide they need to learn to be apart. It’s a challenging start to the first school year with different teachers, different after school activities, and strange events. This is a story with a giant crow, an opinionated cat, an ogre for a teacher, and a hint of magic. This is a story about finding yourself, finding your voice, and finding your friends. This is a story for everyone.”
See? How hard is that? I didn’t even mention gender in that book blurb.
Now - it IS TRUE that this is also a book about girl power. It’s about girls who find their power, and about girls who knew they had power all along. But we expect girls to read books about boys finding their power all the time (*cough* Hero’s Journey *cough*). Why don’t we have the same expectations for boys?
When you have a moment, go ahead and read this blog post that Anne Ursu wrote in 2013 about this topic. On Gender and Boys Read Panels (Gah…. maybe someday we’ll stop having to talk about this!!)
I was going to blather on and on about all the things I loved about this book… but I think I can keep it simple…
-- Do your readers like a hint of magic in a real world setting? They’ll like this book.
-- Do they like stories about how sometimes adults mess things up because they don’t really understand a kid’s perspective? They’ll like this book.
-- Do they like stories with intriguing narrators, odd animals, and mystery? They’ll like this book.
-- Do they like books with creative kids, smart kids, and kids who sometimes make mistakes and need to make amends? They'll like this book.
-- Do they care if the word “boy” or “girl” is in the title? It’s your job to help them shed that misconception. They’ll like this book. (Oh, and P.S. -- I also loved her book called The Real Boy… and I recommended it to ALL my readers - not just boys. Read my review of that one as well)
ABOUT THE BOOK
Once upon a time, there were two sisters, alike in every way, except for all the ways that they were different.
When you’re an identical twin, your story always starts with someone else. For Iris, that means her story starts with Lark. Iris has always been the grounded, capable, and rational one; Lark has been inventive, dreamy, and brilliant—and from their first moments in the world together, they’ve never left each other’s side. Everyone around them realized early on what the two sisters already knew: they had better outcomes when they were together.
When fifth grade arrives, however, it’s decided that Iris and Lark should be split into different classrooms, and something breaks in them both. Iris is no longer so confident; Lark retreats into herself as she deals with challenges at school. And at the same time, something strange is happening in the city around them: things both great and small going missing without a trace. As Iris begins to understand that anything can be lost in the blink of an eye, she decides it’s up to her to find a way to keep her sister safe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anne Ursu is the author of Breadcrumbs, named one of the best books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly and the Chicago Public Library, and The Real Boy, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. She is also a member of the faculty at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Anne lives in Minneapolis with her family and an ever-growing number of cats. You can visit her online at www.anneursu.com
PRAISE FOR THE LOST GIRL
“The Lost Girl is a jewel of a book—hard, bright, sharp, and precious. It reminds us of the boundless and subversive power of sisterhood and the inherent magic of girls.”—Kelly Barnhill, Newbery-Medal winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon
“I raced through The Lost Girl, breathless. And when I was finished, I found myself full of hope. It’s a beautiful, riveting, important book.”—Laurel Snyder, award-winning author of Orphan Island
“When the world makes no sense, I read books by Anne Ursu. When the world makes all the wrong kinds of sense, I read books by Anne Ursu. If you crave a story with the wit, wisdom, and magic to unriddle the world, then you need to read The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu.”—William Alexander, award-winning author of A Festival of Ghosts
“A beautiful, timeless tale of love conquering darkness in the midst of mystery and the angst of change. A must-have for any middle grade collection.” School Library Journal (starred review)
“This suspenseful mystery offers a story of empowerment, showing how one girl with the help of others can triumph.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“National Book Award nominee Ursu laces her story with fairy-tale elements and real-life monsters, while taking great care to cast girls in an empowering light and as authors (and heroes) of their own stories.” Booklist (starred review)
BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 1: Teach Mentor Texts
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 2: About to Mock
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 3: Novel Novice
MONDAY FEBRUARY 4: Maria’s Melange
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 5: A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust
WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 6: Bluestocking Thinking
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 7: Kirsticall.com
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 8: Unleashing Readers
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 9: Book Monsters
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 10: Fat Girl Reading
MONDAY FEBRUARY 11: Word Spelunker
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 12: Nerdy Book Club
Disclosure - I received a copy of the ARC from the publisher. This did not impact my review of the book.