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Lost! A Story in String Hardcover – June 1, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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 gotAlike 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 6
  • Lexile Measure: 450L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1st edition (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805055835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805055832
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.4 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California, the son of children's book author Sid Fleischman. Drawing on history, music, art, and theater, his books have often experimented with multiple viewpoints and performance. He received the Newbery Medal in 1989 for JOYFUL NOISE: POEMS FOR TWO VOICES, a Newbery Honor Award for GRAVEN IMAGES, the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction for BULL RUN, and was a National Book Award finalist for BREAKOUT. He lives on the central coast of California.

For more information, visit paulfleischman.net.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gwyneth Calvetti VINE VOICE on July 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In this story of a little girl who complains when the power goes off, her grandmother shares her own "pictures" by telling her a story with string. Thus does the grandmother keep alive an ancient tradtion of storytelling with string.
And thus does Fleischman keep us enthralled with the possibilities of creating our own string stories. Following the story are instructions for making each of the figures used in the grandmother's story. These figures are ones invented by Fleischman himself. In addition to being a versatile author, Fleischman is a member of the "String Quartet," a performing group dedicated to keeping the art of the string figure alive. His love for this medium is obvious in the well crafted story, and the wonderful woodcuts by Morden serve to enhance, not overpower, the grandmother's telling.
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Format: Hardcover
I think that the book "Lost! A Story in String" was a wonderful book because they story was kind of told by a piece of string. It starts out while kids are watching tv and the power goes out. They say they'll die unless they have something to do. So their grandma tells them a story about a girl with a piece of string. The best part about this book is on each page it shows you string art. Then in the back of the book it tells you how to do it yourself. I think that anyone who likes string art should definitely read this book.
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By Leah Penn Boris on May 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book and a fun story. I love the string instructions included in the back. My one caveat is that I'd buy an intro to string games type book (anything by Camilla Gryski) to get a better understanding of how to do string games, as the instructions in this book are not always super clear.

Overall, a total winner. I'd love to see more string stories from him!
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