What You Need to Know:|
• This “adventure in words and numbers” is perfect for readers looking for a challenge.
• Lost in Lexicon is the first installment in a series. Look for The Ice Castle next.
• The Lost in Lexicon website has fun games and activities.
• Each of the two main characters has their own blog that can be reached from the Lost in Lexicon website – one
focuses on math and the other on language.
• While the book is long and the concepts challenging, there are actually many illustrations and graphic cues to break
up the text and make it easier to read. The map at the beginning will also help readers to follow the adventure.
• Teachers can click here for ideas on how to use Lost in Lexicon in the classroom.
Under the guise of an adventure novel, Lost in Lexicon expertly incorporates educational elements into the storyline to deliver a true learning experience. Just as The Phantom Tollbooth (a favorite of mine) did years ago, this book pushes readers to see the familiar from a new perspective and to open their minds to fresh ideas. A variety of concepts like grammar, measurement, poetry, and algebra are woven into the story. There are discussions about pi, the Cartesian plane, square roots, metaphors, synonyms, and iambic pentameter. In addition to exposing kids to basic math and language principles, the story also encourages readers to think about important issues like discrimination, individuality, freedom, and culture. Throughout the story, readers will find challenging words like dodecahedrons, syncopated, dactyls, anapests and mellifluous, so keep a dictionary nearby.
Thirteen year-old cousins, Daphne and Ivan are bored. They’re on vacation at their Great Aunt Adelaide’s house in the country, and there are no televisions or computers. When Adelaide suggests some things to do, Daphne says, “our entertainment needs are more sophisticated than that.” These kids are used to their video games and TV shows and can't quite figure out what to do without them. Sound familiar? Fed up with their complaining, Adelaide sends Daphne and Ivan off to her barn with a simple puzzle (an anagram) to figure out. And that’s when the fun begins. A secret passage opens in the barn leading the cousins to another world, Lexicon, where trouble is brewing and kids are missing. Excited by the prospect of an adventure, they decide to go on a quest to find the lost children. In the process, they travel from village to village, learning as they go. Their journey takes them to places where punctuation can be carried in a bag, metaphors are mixed in a pot, an animal can function as a thesaurus (I could use a pet like that!), bees are angered by poor grammar, and travel through a mirror is possible. They also face ethical dilemmas that relate to challenging authority, taking responsibility and fulfilling promises. The action heats up in the last third of the book, but while the kids must fight some battles, they do so with words as their weapons. While the enemies they face seem somewhat sinister, they are more big talkers than evil villains.
Because there is so much information to absorb, some kids may want to skim parts and refer back to them at a later date. If some of the finer details aren’t understood at first, the general story line can still be followed and enjoyed. As I’m sure you can tell, this book may not appeal to everyone, but even those less interested in the not-so-subtle educational elements will find plenty of exciting and captivating story elements. The clever, detailed descriptions of Lexicon will make it come alive for readers. Both The Phantom Tollbooth and Lost in Lexicon serve as reminders that we are all equipped with a perfect cure for boredom – our own brains. I hope that this story inspires many young readers to observe, think, have open minds, and most important, to rely on themselves for entertainment.
2011, 368 pages
Adventure, Ethics, Fantasy, Individuality, Math, Self-Awareness/Discovery
• Would you like to go on an adventure like the one described in the book? Why or why not?
• How are the places and characters in the story similar to real-life towns and people?
• Are you more like Ivan or Daphne? In what ways?
• How did you feel about the community where girls weren’t allowed to learn math? Was that fair?
• Do you prefer a world where everyone thinks alike or one where independent thinking prevails? Why?
• When they return home, are Ivan and Daphne different? How have they changed?
• Is it wise to separate scientists from the consequences of their work, or should they be responsible for the social ramifications of their discoveries?
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