Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris

Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris

4.0 12
by Marissa Moss

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When Mira receives a cryptic postcard from her missing mother, she sets off with her father and brother to find her in Paris. Only Mira doesn't know she's looking in the wrong century.

With an innocent touch to a gargoyle sculpture on the roof of Notre Dame, Mira is whisked into the past. There she learns her mother isn't just avoiding the family, she's in


When Mira receives a cryptic postcard from her missing mother, she sets off with her father and brother to find her in Paris. Only Mira doesn't know she's looking in the wrong century.

With an innocent touch to a gargoyle sculpture on the roof of Notre Dame, Mira is whisked into the past. There she learns her mother isn't just avoiding the family, she's in serious trouble. Following her mother's clues, Mira travels through time to help change history and bring her mother home.

"Long after I finished this fast–paced and compelling novel, I thought about Mira. Would I be as determined in pursuit of truth and tolerance? Would you?" —Karen Cushman, Newberry Medal Winner

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Moss (the Amelia's Notebook series) offers an engrossing, diary-style blend of history, mystery, and time travel. Fourteen-year-old Mira's mother has been missing for six months when the family receives a cryptic postcard from her, postmarked from Paris. Awash in a flood of emotion, Mira, her father, and her older brother head to the City of Light in hopes of a reunion. Amid their search for clues, Mira is transported to 1881 Paris, where she befriends Edgar Degas, his young assistant, Émile Zola, and Mary Cassatt—and sees her mother. Moss's tale, illustrated by Mira's sketches, toggles between the present and the 19th century, as Mira tries to understand her trip through time and is swept up in machinations surrounding the infamous Dreyfus Affair. Moss's careful attention to the Dreyfus case and the anti-Semitism that spurred it is laudable, as are the descriptions of the art movements (and artists) of the time. The arrival of a second postcard points to a sequel, and a thorough author's note provides information on Paris, Dreyfus, and Impressionist artists. Ages 9–up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7–9—This first book in an exciting series by a trusted "diary" author is history plus mystery, along with a little romance tossed in. When Mira gets a mysterious postcard from her missing mother, she's angry. Where has she been? Why did she leave? Her ecstatic father, on the other hand, flies her and her brother to Paris in hopes of finding his wife. At Notre Dame, Mira discovers that she has the power to travel through time, startlingly finding herself in 1880s Paris. Unfortunately, she can't seem to control her power. Fumbling through the past, Mira runs into her mother, also a time traveler, who is on a secret mission and is in trouble. Can Mira help her mom, kiss a boy, and still get home to the right century? With an engaging story, accessible history, and a spunky heroine, Mira's Diary is an absorbing, fast-paced adventure. Fun and evocative thumbnail sketches add enormously to the book's appeal. Recommend this one to fans of R. L. LaFevers's "Theodosia" series (Houghton Harcourt).—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZ
Kirkus Reviews
Her mother's mysterious absence, a perplexing postcard and a unique family ability sends Mira on a race through time. A trip to France with her father and brother in search of her mother becomes a fateful odyssey for Mira when she is abruptly transported to Paris circa 1881. Mira is shocked to find out she can travel through time, a talent she has inherited from her mother. She also discovers that her mother has travelled into the past on a quest for justice for Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish military officer wrongly accused of a crime, and needs Mira's help. A series of letters from her mother guides Mira as she visits various moments in time between 1881 and 1899. Mira's encounters with anti-Semitism during her investigation further compel her to seek out the truth. While striving to unravel the secrets surrounding Dreyfus' trial, Mira becomes involved in the lives of several impressionist artists and, of course, writer Émile Zola. With vividly detailed descriptions, Moss deftly recounts Mira's journey among the backdrop of historical events and people. Moss' thought-provoking tale examines the devastating effects of prejudice and intolerance; in her author's note, she gives more background on the Dreyfus Affair and Zola's "J'Accuse." A surprise ending will leave readers anticipating Mira's next mission as she follows her mother through time and history. (bibliography) (Fantasy. 10-14)

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.90(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.80(d)
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Who sends postcards anymore? I wondered when I saw it in the mailbox. How quaint, how old-fashioned. The picture was an old black-and-white photo of a gargoyle on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the kind you might find in a musty antique shop. Even the faded French stamp looked like it was from a previous century. Then I recognized the loopy handwriting and my stomach lurched, first in relief, then in boiling hot rage. So Mom wasn't dead, kidnapped, or suffering from amnesia. She was gone, plain and simple.

Dear David, Malcolm, and Mira,

I know this has been a shock to you all, but don't worry about me. I'm doing what I should have done years ago. There is so much I need to learn, but believe me I'll be home as soon as I've figured things out.

Gargoyles have always fascinated me. Just think what stories they could tell if we only spoke their language!

Take care of yourselves, and remember that I love you.

Serena (Mom)

I examined the card-front, back, and sideways-but that was it. She'd left us, and all she said was "don't worry about me"? I was furious! Such a tra-la-la, have-a-nice-day kind of message when she'd thrown a bomb into our lives, blowing our family apart.

When we first realized Mom was really gone, I was terrified. We called the cops, filed a missing person report, waited with our breath held, and...nothing. A big fat nothing. Funny how quickly I went from being scared that she'd been hurt to wanting to kill her myself.

Dad was a wreck. He expected to get ransom demands from some mythical kidnappers for weeks. Every time the phone rang, he'd practically jump out of his socks. As the weeks rolled by and he corralled us into therapy, he talked about Mom as if she was on one of her work trips that she'd somehow forgotten to tell us about. She didn't answer her cell phone? The battery must have died. No email? She must be super busy. But after months went by, even Dad couldn't believe his own lie.

Still he swore he didn't have a clue that Mom was unhappy or that she wanted out of our family. He insisted something else had to be going on. Like what, my brother, Malcolm, and I wanted to know. Like Mom's really a secret agent and she's on some hush-hush mission?

Malcolm is sixteen, a couple of years older than me, and his humor kept me from crying my eyes out those first days. Some people think he's too sharp, but to me his sharpness has a reason. Plus, he isn't mean, just scathingly right. He's awkwardly tall and skinny, too smart to be cool, with unruly hair he proudly calls a Jewfro. Looking like that, you need a sense of humor.

Mom says he's just like her dad, with that same drive to succeed, that same need to prove himself, but minus the skill as a sculptor since that's what Grandpa did. I always thought Malcolm was her favorite. He gets better grades, takes harder classes, and actually thinks math is fun. So I knew Mom didn't want to abandon Malcolm. Me, I wasn't so sure about.

Secretly I always wondered if Mom was disappointed in me. I'm not beautiful like her, though Dad says I'm cute (but then, what father doesn't say that about his daughter?). Mom's face is a smooth oval, her hair wavy, her eyes big and golden. I have her eyes, but that's about it. I'm short, with wild kinky hair and a nose a little too big for my face. Kind of like Dad, I guess, but minus the John Lennon glasses.

What I really wanted to inherit was artistic ability. Not Mom's, but her father's, the one Malcolm is like. Grandpa was such a successful sculptor that he even had pieces in big museums. And Dad is an artist too with his photography. I try, but I can never get on paper what I see in my head. So instead of talent, all I've gotten from Mom is a tendency for dark circles under my eyes. And now this postcard.

Dad didn't have any answers, but he said Mom loved us, would always love us, and someday we'd learn the truth about why she left. Someday, as soon as she could, she'd come back to us. I wanted to believe him, but it sounded so lame. Malcolm was probably right-Mom had a boyfriend we didn't know about and she'd decided to leave with him and not even say good-bye. No note, no phone call, no email even. Until six months after her disappearing act, this postcard came in the mail.

When I showed it to Malcolm, he was just as steamed.

"She's having café au lait in Paris so she can study gargoyles? What kind of excuse is that? What isn't she saying-that she has a French boyfriend? Ooh-la-la!"

"I know," I said. "She acts like this is an itty-bitty bump in the road, not a slap in the face." I slumped into the big overstuffed chair that Mom used to cuddle with us in, used to read books to us in. I thought I knew her. She was my mother, after all. Now she sounded like a chirping stranger. I left the postcard on the kitchen counter with the rest of the mail for Dad to find. And I tried to forget about it, to forget about her.

But that postcard really got Dad going. He was sure it was a message. Slamming cupboards, chopping onions, he started making dinner in the noisiest way possible. That meant he was super excited. Whenever he won an award for one of his photographs, the kitchen looked like an explosion had happened, but it was just Dad making meat loaf to celebrate. That says something about Dad-that he thinks meat loaf is festive. Why was he celebrating now?

"This isn't an explanation at all. And it doesn't sound like your mother. Something weird is going on here. I know it!" Dad stirred the spaghetti sauce as if he could read the answer in its thick bubbles. "She doesn't sound safe. She's in trouble, or she wouldn't not ask about you guys."

Okay, maybe it wasn't a celebration, but Dad didn't sound mad either. He was worried, but more than that, he actually sounded happy. Could you be happy and worried at the same time?

Malcolm set the table while I tossed the salad. If I let Dad near the tongs, there'd be lettuce all over the place.

"C'mon, you two!" Dad said. "You can't believe your mother would leave you for such a frivolous reason!"

"Define ‘frivolous,'" Malcolm said. "If you mean flighty, flimsy, flitty, I'd agree. I can't see Mom dumping us for a stone monster. Even one in Paris. But if you mean Mom's covering up her real reason, which could possibly be just as stupid, I'd buy that."

Dad set the bowl of spaghetti on the table and poured himself a glass of wine. We sat down like it was a normal family dinner. Like it was every day that we got a message from our missing mother.

"Let's be logical about this, think about what we do know instead of guessing about things we don't. Do we want Mom back with us?" Dad looked at me, but I couldn't meet his eyes. To tell the truth, I wasn't sure. Of course, I loved her and I missed her, but my anger was bigger than both those things. How could I ever trust her again?

"Do we?" Dad pressed.

Malcolm shrugged. "I guess. But she has a lot of explaining to do. And this postcard doesn't cut it."

"Okay, but we want to give her a chance. We want to be able to forgive her, right?"

I nodded. I could admit that much.

"Good!" Dad forked up a glob of spaghetti like he'd suddenly realized he was starving. His eyes lit up like he'd hit pay dirt, not pasta. "That means we're going to Paris!"

"Paris!" I squawked.

"Paris?" Malcolm echoed. "When? What about school? Work?"

"That's my news," Dad said. "I was going to tell you right away, but then there was the postcard. I got that fellowship I applied for, the one to photograph the Wonders of the World."

I guess I should explain here that Dad's a professional photographer. He's known for his aerial views, but this past year he's been working on a new project. He wants to select and explore a whole new series of architectural wonders. In ancient times, there were seven wonders. He thinks now there are probably twenty or so, including things like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, places the Greeks couldn't know about because they didn't exist yet.

He wants to come up with a new list and then photograph them all so we'll appreciate and understand the wonders around us. Plus it's a great excuse to travel to cool places and see amazing things. That's what he told us when he was working on the grant application, but I have to admit, I never thought he'd get it.

"That's great news!" I said, though I wasn't sure it was. I wanted to be happy for Dad, but this was all really weird.

"And since Mom's in Paris, that's the first place we'll go. I'll have to decide which wonder to focus on, Notre Dame or the Eiffel Tower. What do you guys think?"

"We're going with you?" Malcolm asked.

"Well, I can't leave you here by yourselves. I'll homeschool you for the year. Besides, you'll learn a lot just going to the places I'm photographing."

"A whole year?" I didn't mind the idea of no school for a year, plus we would travel all over the world. But I wasn't crazy about leaving my friends behind. And I didn't believe the part about finding Mom or learning the truth about why she left. Right now I just wanted to forget her. The same way she'd obviously forgotten about us.

Malcolm raised his glass of milk. "A toast to Dad, his fellowship, and a year of travel! When do we leave? I can be packed in five minutes." He clearly didn't care about missing his friends, even though he spent every free minute with them. Maybe boys are fickle like that.

"Is this definitely decided?" I asked. "It's so sudden."

"You know I've been working on this idea for a while," Dad said. "I guess you didn't have faith I'd actually get the grant."

"That's not it," I muttered. Though it sort of was.

"She's afraid she'll miss the glories of junior high," Malcolm teased. "Don't worry. I'll tell you all about it and you'll feel like you're there."

"I don't want your school experience. I want mine."

"Mira, is this really a problem?" Dad put on his concerned how are you face, one of my least favorite expressions, right after because I say so.

"No, Dad, of course not." How could I add to his disappointment? I didn't want to be like Mom, letting my family down. "It's great. I'm sure my friends will keep me posted on what's going on. There's email in France, isn't there?"

Dad grinned. "Despite the old-fashioned postcard, there is."

And that's how we ended up going to Paris.

Meet the Author

MARISSA MOSS has published over 50 children's books, and her illustrated Amelia series sold more than 2 million copies. Although she hopes to visit all the wonders of the world, right now she lives in the San Francisco Bay area where she can appreciate the Golden Gate Bridge from her window. Visit www.marissamoss.com

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Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was one of my fav books ever in the book mire meets a boy and you can feel the spark between them and it makes you happy this book is so amazing I could not put it dfown buy the book you will not regret it
ImaginaryReads More than 1 year ago
Back in my middle school days, I went through a historical fiction phase. The vast majority of them were set in the medieval period, but history has always fascinated me. Especially when it involves time travel. I'm pretty sure that I would freak out if I were really to find myself in a foreign place and time. I wouldn't know the first thing to do to trick everyone into thinking that I belong in their time period. Still, I can't help but wonder how awesome it'd be to time travel, and Mira gets to do just that. Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris is the delightful middle-grade story about a young teenage girl who discovers that she has inherited her mother's time-traveling abilities when her family goes to Paris in search of her missing mother. Alone in a foreign time and place, Mira must figure out why she's being taken back to the past at the same time that she unravels her mother's purpose, and her own purpose, for being in the past. This book is obviously meant for younger readers. While Mira meets many equally delightful characters, the story doesn't go into much detail into their lives, personalities, and interests. This didn't take away from my enjoyment of the novel as long as I read it as a middle-grade book, but I really wanted to know more about them and see more of Mira's adventures in late-nineteenth century Paris and the reactions of her friends after her long periods of absence (the result of forced time travel by touchstones, objects that take her to different time periods). Yeah, time travel obviously sucks when you don't know what you're doing and especially when you can't control when and where you go. Mira can't even confide into her friends because that would be breaking one of the sacred rules of time travel, so her explanations for being gone sound pretty fake even to herself. It seemed that I had just started this book when it ended. Sadly to say, I'm going to have to wait to see how Mira makes up to her good friend and first (I think?) love Claude and just what is so important that her mother is doing in the past. Mira's story is a fun, sweet read that I would recommend to young girls.
choirgal04 More than 1 year ago
Got this for my daughter, who has enjoyed this author and likes the journal-style graphic design, which reproduces nicely on the HD+. I glanced at the first chapter, and it looks like an engaging mystery.
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
When Mira's mother disappears unexpectedly, her whole family was shocked. No one knows where she went, and no one knows whether she's been kidnapped or killed or just ran away with another man. Now Mira, her dorky brother Malcolm, and her dad (who gets to travel around the world for a year as a photographer to take pictures of the Wonders of the World) get a mysterious postcard, and it's from Mira's mother!! Mira and her family travel to Paris and Mira starts to search for her mother. Only to find out later that she has been searching in the wrong century. Mira is a time traveler, and with one accidental touch to a stone gargoyle, she is whisked away into the past to follow her mothers clues and find out what really happened to her mother.Mira is an awkward girl who is thrown into a unknown experience. Any girl who has experienced moving, going to a new school, or just even going to middle school will probably be able to relate to her. That was why I was also able to relate to  her. Lost in Paris is a historical fiction/fantasy book that was more interesting to me than most historical fiction books that I have read before.This book was completely enjoyable and I honestly couldn't find anything in Lost in Paris that might have bothered me, even the slightest bit. It was great through and through so I didn't find any part of it boring.The flow was clear and easy to understand and read. The writing was in first person, and that was able to show Mira's dorky side. I definitely loved this, so I can't wait to read more books by Marissa Moss, especially the sequel to this, Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome.
sjziegler More than 1 year ago
booksbysteph says "Entertaining and Educational For All Ages" Mira's Mom has disappeared. No one has any idea why she is gone or where she is. Mira's Dad says Mom loves her and her brother and she will come back someday. After six months, Mira finds a Paris-themed postcard in the mail stating that she needed to figure things out.  On the same day, Mira's Dad finds out he received a grant to photograph the wonders of the world and he is taking the kids along for the ride. With the arrival of the postcard, first stop - Paris! Hoping they will find their Mom, they decide to start looking at the Notre Dame cathedral to see the gargoyle on the front of Mom's postcard. Mira touched the gargoyle and was instantly transported to April 2, 1881. Confused and alone, she starts walking down the street and spots her Mom sitting at a sidewalk cafe. When Mira called out to her Mom, her Mom jumped into a waiting carriage and left, leaving Mira even more confused.  I GIVE THIS BOOK: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars Even though this book is intended for teenagers, I found it quite entertaining. The author used art to set the scene and where better to be around famous artists but Paris, France. Not only are you going to read an entertaining book, you will also get a lesson in art and history. Little sketches are included in the book to help with your visualization. However, it s the moral of the story that is the most important and what children need to take away from this book - it is okay to stand up for what you believe in, even is the whole country is against you. You have to stand up for yourself and your values and what is right and wrong. Do not let the pressure of others keep you silent. There is so much to learn in this book. The book ended very abruptly. For an author it was the perfect place to stop because when it ended, all I wanted was more! Until next time, live life one page at a time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I realy like this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Friend has it. She says its great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I used to read the amerlia diary series. Is this book at all like it?...
CrossroadReviews More than 1 year ago
My Review: 5 Stars The Kid: I really liked this one. It had a few pictures which helped tell the story. .................................................................................... The Mom: This was a very cute little book. We sat down and read it in two days. I love time travel so this one sat really well with me. It has pictures thought out the book which add to the story. "*I received a copy of this book for free to review, this in no way influenced my review, all opinions are 100% honest and my own."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Idk what this book is bout but i wanna read it... :p