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Book Review

This realistic fiction by Andrew Clements is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

Lost and Found is written for children ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

What would it be like to be just you — your unique self — and not be compared to or mistaken for anyone else? When 12-year-old identical twin brothers Ray and Jay Grayson move to Cleveland and a new school, they experiment with discovering what a twinless life would be like at school.

Taft Elementary School unwittingly loses Ray's student file when it arrives mixed in with Jay's folder. The first day of school, Ray is out sick, but since he isn't enrolled, he doesn't exist in the school's records. The two sixth-graders take advantage of the situation and plot to attend school every other day, with Ray posing as Jay on "Ray day" — but only for a week. Convincing everyone that there is only one of them turns out to be a 24/7 job. Jay is better than Ray at math, for example, so when Ray is pretending to be Jay, he can't do the prime factoring at the classroom board like Jay. The result is deception, confusion and mistaken identities.

It's game over when Ray confides the secret to Melissa, a girl he likes, and she shares the secret with a friend who shares it with a friend, and soon almost the entire student body knows of their trickery. An astute school nurse catches on about the same time when she begins her review of the sixth-graders' files and discovers the school's error. The boys learn that because they are two different people, pretending to be one person is not possible.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

A fortune cookie with the family’s Chinese take-out dinner tells Jay not to despair when his path becomes difficult. His father comments that it is good advice.

Authority Roles

Sue and Jim Grayson are good parents who are ecstatic to have twin boys. Perhaps unwisely and without foresight, they name them with rhyming names — Ray Jay and Jay Ray. They each take a turn staying home with Ray while he is sick. In spite of multiple long-distance moves and full-time jobs, they make time for their sons. Sometimes they can't tell the boys apart without doing a "freckle-check" — only Ray has a freckle on his right ankle.

Sue Grayson offers to accompany Jay on his first day of school, but he declines her offer. She insists Jay complete his homework assignment rather than go to the hockey rink with friends. She makes the brothers apologize to each other after a fight.

Mrs. Lane, Jay's homeroom teacher, is a professional; however, she leaves her class' student records that likely contain confidential information on each pupil on her chair for two days.

Mrs. Cardiff, the school nurse, is a dedicated professional and is concerned for the welfare of the children, with special attention to transfer students. She is reasonable, decisive and does not overreact. She serves as a mediator between the principal and the Graysons when each becomes defensive.

Mrs. Lonsdale, the principal, works to help Ray and Jay establish their own personas by giving them different class schedules.

Profanity/Violence

The brothers fight from time to time and punch each other in the arm — hard. One of their fights gets a little out of hand and results in broken light bulbs, a ripped shirt, a bleeding elbow, a lump on a cheekbone and a fingernail scrape on the chin.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

While fighting over whether Melissa likes Jay or Ray, Jay teasingly says that Ray should let him know when Ray starts kissing Melissa, because he wants to be ready for it.

Girl-boy interactions are innocent, but the boys' attraction to girls is noticeable. Ray is said to sort of have had a girlfriend at the end of fifth grade. For a 12-year-old, Ray is comfortable, if not suave, in dealing with girls; he knows how to flirt.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • To what does Jay compare his starting school in Denver in mid-January? What are the advantages and disadvantages of starting in Denver compared to starting in Cleveland? Which would you have preferred? Explain.

  • Jay and Ray's parents trust them to walk to and from school and to be on their own after school until dinnertime. How is this trust broken? How would you feel if you found out we were deceiving you?

  • Do you know any identical twins? How are you able to tell them apart? How has this book helped you relate to twins better? Are there ways it might help you relate better to kids who are not twins?

  • Alex helps Jay find his way around the school the first day. Have you ever done this for a new kid? Have you ever been the new kid and had someone help you?

  • What is Jay and Ray's reason for skipping school? Is it valid?

  • The boys lie by pretending to be someone they are not. What are some other ways that people deceive? (Consider a lie of omission, for example.) How can lying be a form of stealing?

  • Which of the twins has the voice of reason? On two occasions, Ray does not want to go through with Jay's plan. How does Jay persuade Ray?

  • The principal, Mrs. Lonsdale, explains to Ray how dangerous it is for his parents to believe both boys are in school every day and for the school to not know about one of them. Do you agree with her about the danger, or do you think she is overreacting? What might have happened to Jay and Ray? How does alternating days at school hurt their education?

  • The book doesn't say what punishment the boys will get for what they did. What punishment would be appropriate? Should the school have suspended them?

Additional Comments/Notes

Andrew Clements has informed insight into the life of twins since he is father to twin boys, Ray and Grayson.

Lying: The boys have a very good grasp of what constitutes a lie, the wrongness of it and how many lies they will need to tell to carry out this ruse. Yet they proceed with their plan.


Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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