by Cindy Callahan
Back Cover: Twelve-year-old Jordan Jacoby is thrilled when she gets the chance to hop across the pond to glam London with a school exchange program. Despite a chilly reception from her host, Caroline, Jordan finds herself loving the city and Caroline’s group of friends –who turn out to be much nicer than Caroline herself.
Just when things seem to be falling into place, one major misstep gets Jordan and Caroline locked in Daphne’s—the world’s largest department store—overnight. Which means complete access to all the fancy shoes, designer dresses, and coolest jewelry any girl could ever want!
And to top it all off, Caroline finally seems to be having fun. But when a nemesis of Caroline’s finds out about their after-hours adventure in Daphne’s, Jordan’s wish for excitement abroad turns into a lot more that she had bargained for . . .
Opening: The flyer in my hand said it was a one-week student program in London—as in the most exciting city in Europe. I needed something exciting, anything other than what was called “my life.”
About the Story: Jordan feels like an ordinary thirteen-year-old girl and thinks she has a boring life, but that will change as she is on her way to London. Jordan will stay with mom’s friend, who has a thirteen-year-old stepdaughter. Not long after Jordan arrives at her host’s home, the kids—Ellie, Gordo, Sam, Caroline (the unenthusiastic stepdaughter), and Jordan (now calling herself “JJ”), —are off to Daphne’s, the world’s largest department store with 18 floors of material indulgence. J.J. and Caroline become stuck in the store after closing with no way out.
The girls spend the night giggling and having genuine fun, which Caroline will deny the following day, saying it was “a nightmare” and JJ was “lame.” On the way home, the news announces a major theft at Daphne’s—that same night. To make matters worse, Sebastian, a bully, finds JJ’s backpack, and in it her phone. (JJ had left it behind when she and Caroline ran to hide.) Having seen the videos of the girls’ night, Sebastian blackmails Caroline. To prove he is serious, he posts one video online. The news announces the police suspect two girls, one British and one American. Things get worse as more major thefts occur at the same places, and on the same day, the kids visit. Jordan is afraid she may end up in jail instead of on a plane home.
What I Thought: I enjoyed reading Lost is London. It is a well-constructed story with only a couple of faults. Of the five kids, Caroline, Jordan, and Sam have distinctive voices, as is Mrs. Littleton. I enjoyed the Daphne’s store scenes and their engaging dialogue. Unfortunately, the theft was easy to solve. I like that Ellie repeatedly questions Caroline about stealing all the expensive equipment that went missing at Daphne’s. Why is it her best friend, the one who Caroline is always whispering in secrecy, is never quite convinced Caroline was not behind the Daphne store crime? There seems to be much more to Caroline than the story delivers.
I like the ratcheting up the stakes by bringing in Sebastian, the bully, to force the girls to work together. I have a couple of questions. First, how could Sebastian ever get a hold of Jordan’s phone? While Jordan is raiding the pastries, Caroline is videotaping Jordan–with Jordan’s phone–and when the store lights pop back on the girls run off to hide, leaving the backpack behind. I can’t image Caroline taking the time to put JJ’s phone into the backpack (nor did the text say this).
The other question I have is why the press release and the back cover—which continues to the inside back page—Jordan is age twelve, yet on page one she is thirteen? I like my middle grade protagonists to be eleven or twelve, certainly not twelve and then magically thirteen. The book I have is a finished copied, ready for sale. These careless mistakes should not happen. While I like the story as a whole, I do not like the ending. It feels short-changed to write,
SIX MONTHS LATER
“Top story today is about everyone’s favorite store, Daphne’s,” Skye said.
“Indeed it is, Skye,” said Cole . . .
Let’s show a clip of J.J. and her friends with Sophia and Rose Whitworth at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Slumber Party Department.”
That is it. Some chitchat between two news anchors named Skye and Cole, then the announcement of this ribbon-cutting event. If this were a movie, credits would start rolling. What do we know about Jordan? That she is one terrific girl. The ending was one page earlier and it should have stopped right there. Chapter 32 wrapped up the story beautifully and should have been left to do its job.
Lost in London is not action or adventure, but rather a character driven story that works well. While Jordan is the protagonist, Caroline is the character most in need of change. By stories end, both girls will have changed in ways neither expected. As a group, Caroline, Gordo, Ellie, Sam, and Jordan/JJ work together to make this a good story about friendships old and new. Lost in London will appeal to middle grade girls and young adults who enjoy light fare.
Age 8 to 12
© 2013 by Aladdin Mix, used with permission
Text copyright © 2013 by Cindy Callahan
Aladdin Mix is an imprint of Simon & Schuster
- Lost in London (opesopinions.wordpress.com)