Published by Margaret Ferguson Books on October 12, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Middle Grade, Verse
Source: Blog Tour, The Publisher
Cover Artist: Kathrin Honesta
The quest to save the words of a dying language - and to find the words to save what may be a dying friendship - lies at the heart of this exquisite verse novel.
Sixth grader Betsy is the one who informs her best friend, Lizard, that thousands of the world's languages are currently threatened by extinction; Betsy's mother is a linguistics professor working frantically to study dying languages before they are lost forever. But it is Lizard who, gripped by the magnitude of this loss, challenges Betsy, What if, instead of WRITING about dying languages, like your mom, you and I SAVED one instead?
As the girls embark on their quest to learn as much as possible of the near-extinct language of Guernésiais (spoken on the Isle of Guernsey, off the coast of France), their friendship faces unexpected strains. With Lizard increasingly obsessed with the language project, Betsy begins to seek greater independence from her controlling and charismatic friend, as well as from her controlling and charismatic mother. Then tragedy threatens Betsy's life beyond what any words can express, and Lizard does something unthinkable.
Maybe lost friendships, like lost languages, can never be completely saved.
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
The Lost Language is a heartfelt story of evolving friendships, complicated family relationships, and learning independence (even in the face of strong personalities). Betsy has always considered herself part of a pair, her and her best friend Lizard. Sure, Lizard tends to always manage to get her way, but usually Betsy doesn’t mind taking a back seat to her headstrong friend (usually). She just wishes her overly-busy mom would give Lizard more of a chance. When the two embark on a quest to save a lost language, Lizard is sure it will be the key to making Betsy’s mom happy. Betsy’s not so sure, but she doesn’t want to upset Lizard, so she agrees. But when things start going wrong both in her friendships and in her family, Betsy isn’t sure where to turn.
The story is written in spare, evocative verse that invites the reader into Betsy’s inner thoughts and feelings. Middle graders will relate to the concept of shifting friendships, since this is common at this age. And it’s impossible not to empathize with Betsy as she navigates the opposing wants and needs of the people who are closest to her. My heart broke for her when things really started to fall apart, both at home and at school. The book also tackles the topic of mental illness in a way that is both realistic and compassionate. And, best of all, it ends with a sense of hope and empowerment!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Rockstar Book Tours so I could provide an honest review. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Claudia Mills has written many children’s books, including 7 x 9 = Trouble!, the Franklin School Friends series, The A9er-School Superstar series, and Zero Tolerance. She recently received the Kerlan Award for her contribution to children’s literature. She was a professor of philosophy for more than two decades at the University of Colorado and is now a faculty member in the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins University. Dr. Mills lives in Boulder, Colorado.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE LOST LANGUAGE, US Only.
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