Lost! a Story in String

Lost! a Story in String

by Paul Fleischman, C. B. Mordan

A Newbery-winning author and a brilliant new artist create a story that young readers will read and perform for years to come.

Watch and listen as a grandmother recounts a tale of a resourceful farm girl lost in a blizzard, searching for her dog. As she describes that young girl's hazardous journey, a sequence of string figures takes shape in her hands,


A Newbery-winning author and a brilliant new artist create a story that young readers will read and perform for years to come.

Watch and listen as a grandmother recounts a tale of a resourceful farm girl lost in a blizzard, searching for her dog. As she describes that young girl's hazardous journey, a sequence of string figures takes shape in her hands, illustrating each step along the way. Striking scratchboard illustrations bring the grandmother's story to life, while clear instructions and careful diagrams at the end of the book allow you to recreate the tale, and to hold string figure performances of your own. Paul Fleischman's own intergenerational string troupe, String Quartet, has made Lost! a regular part of its repertoire, and you can too.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this handsomely designed volume, Fleischman (Whirligig) tells a story within a story, illustrated with elegant, framed ink-on-clayboard pictures and with string. When a lightning storm cuts off the electricity, a girl complains to her grandmother that she'll "die" without her VCR, TV, radio and computer. Her grandmother responds with the story of a girl whose life really was endangered: "About all she had in the world to play with was an old piece of string. But that was plenty enough for her." This girl goes searching for her dog one day and gets lost in the woods during a sudden snowstorm. As the grandmother narrates, she uses string wrapped around her fingers (cat's cradle-style) to form the figure of a dog's head, a jaybird that leads the girl to food and the North Star that leads the child home. Through the girl's own resourcefulness, she manages to survive two days in the forest by herself, and finds her dog. The message is moralistic ("But young as she was, she had a heap of knowledge about getting the most out of what you've got--like making a story out of a piece of string") and the story seems constructed to serve the pictures made in string (e.g., the girl mentions a man with a bow who might have posed a threat to the dog, but readers later discover that the dog is injured by a bullet); these string images flow from one into the next with simple hand movements (described in an afterword), and they likely work better live than on the page. Still, children who love to play cat's cradle will enjoy learning how to create the series of string illustrations and telling this story to their friends. Mordan, in his picture book debut, provides a dramatic complement for this spare tale with artwork that resembles etchings; he demonstrates how much can be communicated using simple lines and strokes. A history of the pastime and directions for how to create all the string figures supplement the story. Ages 8-12. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Is storytelling a dying art? Many adults feel uncomfortable telling stories in today's high-tech world, afraid that children will not be entertained. This is just the book to fight such beliefs. When a storm causes a power failure, the young girl in the story complains that she'll just die without her computer, VCR, television, and radio. Her grandmother convinces her that there are other ways to be entertained, and launches into the story of a child who gets lost in a snowstorm. As she tells the story, she uses a loop of yarn to create string figures that illustrate the story. The little girl is entranced with the story and the string figures, and immediately begins to make up her own story. At the end of the grandmother's story, there are directions for making each of the string figures and an explanation that storytelling is an art anyone can practice. Young readers are encouraged to learn the story and adapt it to their own telling-style, then practice the string figures to accompany it. Information is provided for those interested in The International String Figure Association and books on string art. 2000, Henry Holt and Company, Ages 6 to 12, $15.95. Reviewer: Carol Lynch—Children's Literature
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-"I'll die!" says a nine-year-old girl when a lightning storm causes a blackout that deprives her of the use of a computer, TV, etc. This prompts her grandmother to tell a story from her own childhood when her life was truly in danger. As a girl she lived an isolated life in the mountains, her only companion a setter dog who liked to roam, and her only toy a piece of string. When the dog failed to return home for several days, she tracked it and became lost in a blizzard. Determined to survive, the girl resourcefully used whatever she could find to acquire food and shelter. Some of the examples provided strain credibility. "Having so much practice changing string into different things, it came natural to her to turn that walking staff of hers into a lever." The narrative is accompanied by illustrations of string figures that correlate to plot elements. A brief history of this ancient pastime, as well as directions for making the figures in the story are provided. Mordan's ink-on-clayboard artwork is well executed and an appropriate accompaniment to this earnest tale. The book would be useful for those wishing to introduce string-figure art or discuss how children might amuse themselves without electricity, but it is otherwise an additional purchase.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
In this story within a story, a grandmother entertains her granddaughter with a string story when the girl laments the loss of electricity during a storm that eliminates all her usual forms of electronic entertainment. The internal story concerns a girl who goes into a snowstorm to find and bring home her wounded dog. She survives due to her wits and resourcefulness. On each page, a string figure becomes a part of the story, with the figure displayed at the bottom of the page in miniature. The grandmother confides that she was the girl in the story and challenges her granddaughter to think of something to do without the use of electricity. In a nice open-ended finale, the girl is seen starting her own string story. Back matter contains a brief history of string figures ("the handheld video games of their time"), instructions on making a string loop, carefully illustrated step-by-step directions for making each figure, and a bibliography. Fleischman's (Big Talk, 2000, etc.) figures are new inventions, but require common moves. They build on each other and many of them have potential for movement (the bow "shoots"). The illustrations created in ink on clayboard look like fine etchings and are appropriate to the old-fashioned tale. Unfortunately, a creaky, didactic opening introduces a grandmother whose speech is unbelievably quaint for a 21st-century woman acquainted with modern technology. Nevertheless, this unique book offers several fascinating points of entry and will be enjoyed in many ways. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
8.39(w) x 10.23(h) x 0.41(d)
450L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Paul Fleischman is one of the best known and most highly respected authors in children's books, and has been awarded both a Newbery and Newbery Honor. His novels and non-fiction books are perennial favorites, including Whirligig, his first book for Holt, which was voted a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist. He lives in Northern California.

C.B. Mordan's artwork has appeared in serial form in newspapers across the country, and has been featured in The New York Times. He lives near Kansas City, Missouri.

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