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Lost in London (mix) Paperback – October 15, 2013
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About the Author
Cindy Callaghan is the author of the middle grade novels Lost in London, Lost in Paris, Lost in Rome, Lost in Ireland (formerly titled Lucky Me), Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ’Em Dead, Just Add Magic (which is now a breakout Amazon original series), and it’s sequel Potion Problems. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Lost in London
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.”
Everybody has a “thing.” Some people are good at sports, or music, or are popular, or are at the bottom of the social ladder.
Except me. I didn’t have a thing. Translation? I was a positively ordinary thirteen-year-old girl who led a boring life. Consider my life’s report card:
• I lived in a regular old town without a palm tree, igloo, or palace (Wilmington, Delaware) = blah.
• I didn’t do any sports or clubs = yawn.
• I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup, ride my bike without a helmet, go to R movies, or attend boy-girl dances = lame.
• I lived next door to my school, where my dad worked = annoying.
• Worst of all, I’d never done anything exciting. When I explained this to my parents, they brought up my trip with the Girl Scouts last year. I didn’t think that should count, because it was only two nights and my mom was there. It was totally Dullsville. (I dropped out of Girl Scouts right after.)
This school-sponsored trip was like a miracle opportunity sent directly to me, Jordan Jacoby. What could be more exciting than London? (Paris, possibly, but that doesn’t matter right now.) I wanted to go to London to become worldly by traveling around that amazing city and soaking in its history and culture.
There was just one problem. Kind of a biggie. My parents.
I studied the London program information on my short walk home from school—across the football field, through a gate, along a short path, and onto the sidewalk that led to my house. My dad was a little ways behind me, walking home too.
Let me give you some advice if your parents ever consider working at your school:
Talk them out of it.
Sabotage the interview.
Recruit someone else for the job.
Do whatever it takes for them to work anywhere other than at your school. Seriously, anywhere. And if they somehow manage to get the job, beg them to change their name and pretend they don’t know you.
I love my dad, but walking to and from school with him every day, and seeing him lurk in the hallways, sucked any possible element of fun from my middle-school existence. I couldn’t so much as draw on my sneaker with a permanent marker, or talk to a boy, without getting “the look.” The you-and-I-both-know-you-shouldn’t-be-doing-that look.
I wanted this trip.
“What are you reading?” Dad walked faster to catch up with me.
“About the school-sponsored trip to London this year. I really, really want to go.”
He immediately harrumphed, but I didn’t let that stop me. This was going to take persistence. And I could be seriously persistent.
The conversation about the trip went on all afternoon and into dinner. “There has got to be more to the world than Wilmington, Delaware. I’ve never done anything or gone anywhere.”
“Now, that’s just not true,” Mom said. “You went away overnight to Girl Scout camp. Remember that?”
Oh, yeah. Did I ever.
I tried: “Oh, come on. You never let me do anything fun. And it’s only five days.”
Then I went to: “We live in an American-centric society. Isn’t it important for me to broaden my horizons?” (I’d gotten that from the flyer.)
I added: “I have the assignment all planned out. It’s going to be a photo montage of sights with narration. I promise I’ll get an A, or maybe an A-minus, on it and I’ll weed all summer long to pay you back for the trip.”
Finally I went with: “It will be an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life!”
My mom talked about me staying with an old friend of hers who had a stepdaughter about my age. This made me think she was seriously considering it. Then she started talking about the dangers of a foreign city—drugs, kidnapping—and the cost of the trip. It wasn’t looking good.
Then—I don’t know what happened exactly—but at that moment, on Marsh Road in Wilmington, Delaware, a miracle occurred. They said YES!
I was going to embark on a journey called the De-bored-ification of Jordan Jacoby.
Only, I had no idea how de-bored-ified my life was about to become.
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I thought LOST IN LONDON was super cute and pretty fun. There's an excellent sense of place - not just the places visited, but the slang and food all reminded me of my trips to London. (I even thought there was a Cornetto on the cover, until I noticed the straw. Just a shake.) There's also good use of technology. J.J. and her new friends are constantly taking photos and videos with their cells, which sometimes causes trouble.
There are a couple of expected plots, and a few that were more surprising. J.J. and Caroline have trouble getting along at first, of course. Caroline is a bit hot and cold. Caroline's friends are more accommodating, but their classmate Sebastian is causing trouble for everyone. I liked that J.J. and Sam, one of Caroline's guy friends, had a bit of a flirtation but that the romance angle wasn't really played up. And the fact that their relationship revolved around a shared love of eating was adorable.
Less expected was the plotline where J.J. and Caroline accidentally implicate themselves in a massive heist. They've got to dodge the police since they're afraid they can't prove they're innocent. (Oh to be twelve and think the police would actually believe you're a master thief.) It's a plotline that relies quite a bit on coincidence, but who cares when it's hilarious?
The book also works because the characters are wonderful. J.J. is awkward, but she's got enough confidence to stand up for herself, and she's learning to be more confident. Ellie, Caroline's best female friend, is a secretly talented space cadet. Caroline is a bit spoiled, but that doesn't mean she's rotten. Gordo isn't manly, but that doesn't mean he isn't a cool guy. Sam is friendly and constantly hungry. The characters elevate the simple plot, as they should.
LOST IN LONDON is a terrific choice for young Anglophiles. There's friendship, hijinks in an empty mall, pranks, revenge, and a few history lessons slipped in for good measure. I'm definitely interested in reading Cindy Callaghan's next novel, LUCKY ME, coming July 2014.
Jordan wants a bit of excitement in her life, and nothing says excitement like a trip abroad to London. But can she convince her parents? Of course. I mean, it wouldn't be a story if the answer was no, right?
But what happens when Jordan arrives is nothing she is prepared for. After all, she is there for an adventure, and she finds one. One that is more than she bargained for.
Tween readers will find themselves thrown into the plot quickly. Callaghan does not wait to build her story; after all, she has to get her readers to London, right? By chapter two, that is where we are--and we do not stop until the novel's conclusion.
While reading, I found myself giggling out loud as well as face palming. I mean, we are dealing with characters that are thirteen, so some of their choices are just...ridiculously ridiculous. But, I am not the audience of this novel, and the true audience will eat it up.
Jordan is a likeable character. She wants to be friends with everyone, live life to the fullest while in London, leave nothing out. Readers will see her transform throughout the novel into a more confident young lady, and that is what I really enjoyed about the novel. She is not a stagnant character--she grows, much like her adventures, and Callaghan shows readers what growing up is really about: taking life and going with it. It will not always be fun. The best decisions will not always be made. But, you deal.
As for Caroline, I really enjoyed her. After reading the description I was afraid she would be really unlikable, like `Mean Girls' unlikeable. But that was not the case. She is just a typical teen is who forced to hang with someone when all she wants to do is do her own thing. How many of us can relate? I think tween readers will as well.
All of the characters brought a fun feel to the novel--Caroline's friends quickly accept Jordan and take her under their wing. They are all fun. I want to hang out with them because they are smart, clever, and have British accents. What more could a girl want in friends?
I recommend this novel for fourth grade readers +. It is fun. It has a great message. But mostly, it is fun.
There is a discrepancy in the summary--it says Jordan is twelve, but in the novel she is actually thirteen.
As with JUST ADD MAGIC, Cindy Callaghan has created realistic tween characters who are FUNNY and INTERESTING to young readers. Callaghan also manages to teach while she is writing funny and captivating dialogue. My daughter shared many facts about London as she proceeded to read the book and was excited to learn new things while staying interested in the characters and how they were going to get themselves out of the predicament they found themselves in.
My daughter and 11 of her friends have all read this book and will be having a book club party - with LONDON as the theme. We will be serving British inspired foods and tea. So many of her friends loved it that I purchased 3 extra copies and donated them to the school library. The librarian said she "can't keep them on the shelf."
This book is a must read for all girls 9-14 years old. It is captivating, funny, entertaining and relates to what every pre-teen and teenager loves to do - shop !
Great job Cindy Callaghan. Keep them coming. You're making young girls all over excited to read!
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