Review of The Museum of Lost and Found

The Museum of Lost and Found The Museum of Lost and Found
by Leila Sales
Middle School    Amulet/Abrams    304 pp.
5/23    9781419754517    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781647002824    $15.54

Sixth grader Vanessa is mystified and saddened by the apparent end of her friendship with longtime BFF Bailey—so much so that when she comes across a dilapidated building, once a museum, in her small Ohio town, she decides to make it into her own museum: the museum of Bailey. “Maybe by telling the story of ­Bailey—by laying it all out clearly behind glass—she would at last be able to understand where it went wrong.” When others discover Vanessa’s project—Eli from Hebrew school; her older brother, Sterling; and twin classmates Rosalie and Honore—they add their own exhibits. As Vanessa gains more insight into her and Bailey’s friendship, “the story of Bailey” changes, with the labels on the items in the Bailey Wing amended to reflect Vanessa’s evolving understanding. Meanwhile, the mysterious provenance of a large painting left behind in the museum adds Mixed-Up Files resonance. Other elements woven into the plot include Vanessa’s compulsive ­skin-picking (identified late in the book as excoriation disorder) and worry over the safety of her active-service father. Sales (If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, rev. 5/18) manages to combine all of this into a nuanced look at friendship, family, self-knowledge, coming of age, and community, with Vanessa a strong-minded and sometimes unlikable but always sympathetic protagonist.

Pubissue-From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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