Check out the full 5th Annual March MG Madness schedule and enter to win a box of middle-grade books.
Summer of Lost and Found
by Rebecca Behrens
May 24, 2016
A sweeping middle grade novel about a city girl forced to spend her summer in North Carolina, where she becomes involved in a centuries-old mystery, turning her once boring vacation into an adventure she never could have imagined.
Nell Dare expected to spend her summer vacation hanging out with her friends in New York City. That is, until her botanist mom dragged her all the way to Roanoke Island for a research trip. To make matters worse, her father suddenly and mysteriously leaves town, leaving no explanation or clues as to where he went—or why.
While Nell misses the city—and her dad—a ton, it doesn’t take long for her to become enthralled with the mysteries of Roanoke and its lost colony. And when Nell meets Ambrose—an equally curious historical reenactor—they start exploring for clues as to what really happened to the lost colonists. As Nell and Ambrose’s discoveries of tantalizing evidence mount, mysterious things begin to happen—like artifacts disappearing. And someone—or something—is keeping watch over their quest for answers.
It looks like Nell will get the adventurous summer she was hoping for, and she will discover secrets not only about Roanoke, but about herself.
Early Praise for Summer of Lost and Found
“I was edge-of-my-seat interested while reading Summer of Lost and Found. Rebecca Behrens has the ability to make the past irresistible and weave it into a present-day story that will satisfy fans of both mystery and adventure.” —Caroline Starr Rose, author of Blue Birds
“A sweet, sparkling setting, a historical riddle, and a quirky cast make this little gem of a mystery a pure pleasure to read.” —Jodi Lynn Anderson, author of My Diary at the Edge of the World
“The mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke becomes an engaging backdrop for a preteen experiencing her own losses. . . . This blend of history with mystery and fantasy with realism is a good find indeed.”—Kirkus“Behrens’s deft writing gives the book substance. . . . This intriguing mix of historical and realistic fiction with a dash of the paranormal makes this well-written novel appealing to a wide range of middle grade readers.”—School Library Journal
New Yorker, Nell Dare, is ready for a summer in the city with her BFF, but her parents squash that summer dream. Her dad has left suddenly and without explanation and her mom decides Nell will join her on her botany trip in NC. Once on Roanoke Island, Nell becomes enthralled with the mystery and history surrounding the Lost Colony of Roanoke. When she meets a young historical reenactor, Ambrose, the two set out to discover just what happened to the Lost Colony...but is someone or something out to stop them?!
Rebecca Behrens’ Summer of Lost and Found is a heartfelt and captivating tale, full of thrilling mystery, exciting discoveries, and clever humor. With a charming and fresh-as-summer voice, Summer of Lost and Found is enjoyable from start to finish. Behrens does a superb job of describing and laying out both the physical and historical aspects of Roanoke Island for readers. And the mysteries, twists, turns, and revelations are plentiful! Like Nell, young readers will be absolutely fascinated by the mystery surrounding the Lost Colony, and will have a blast searching for clues and learning all about the wondrous history of the island.
Smart, capable, and witty Nell is a delight! I love her curiosity and courage. Ambrose, with his reenactor clothing and speech, is such an endearing, quirky fellow. I really enjoyed their banter and interaction.
Behrens takes the sweet pair, and readers, on an unforgettable adventure and search for the truth, with many unexpected discoveries and revelations, that’s bursting with heart and tenderness.
My final thoughts: With its engaging characters, irresistible mystery, and oceans full of charm, Summer of Lost and Found is the perfect summer read!
Top MG Books about Real People and Real Places
by Rebecca Behrens
It’s no secret that I love middle-grade historical fiction—seeing a different time or place in the world through a young protagonist’s eyes might be my favorite way to learn about history. Good thing there are so many excellent MG books about real people, places, and periods to read! Here are ten top recommendations:
Catherine Called Birdy: This was one of my favorite books as a young reader. I loved the spirited and smart heroine, Catherine, and through her diary, 1290s England became a real place to me.
Blue Birds: This verse novel by Caroline Starr Rose is beautiful and rich. It tells the poignant story of an unlikely friendship between a Roanoke girl, Kimi, and an English girl, Alis, on 1587 Roanoke Island.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond: I think I read this dozens of times as a kid! I loved the blend of history, suspense, and romance. The story of Kit’s journey from Barbados to 1687 Connecticut, and her struggle to find her place in her new Puritan community. It’s probably time for me to reread this one.
Makoons: The fifth book in The Birchbark House series tells about an Ojibwe family’s move to the Great Plains. I just read—and loved—an advance copy. To start at the beginning, pick up The Birchbark House, which tells about the daily life and challenges of an Ojibwe family in 1847 on Madeline Island in Lake Superior.
Al Capone Does My Shirts: Full disclosure—this one is still on my TBR pile. But I am dying to read about the kids who lived among convicts on Alcatraz in the 1930s. What a fascinating setting!
Number the Stars: This is a classic, award-winning story about friendship and bravery in 1937 Denmark. Another favorite from my own days as a middle-grader, and I still find it as powerful today.
Journey to Topaz: After the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Yuki and her family are forced from their Berkeley, California, home to Topaz, an internment camp in the desert. Reading Yoshiko Uchida’s book as a kid was the first I learned about the discrimination and internment that Japanese Americans suffered during World War II. This is a great story, and a powerful introduction to that terrible part of US history.
Cold War on Maplewood Street: The Cold War was a real—and scary—place in American history. Gayle Rosengren does an excellent job of portraying what it was like to be a Chicago kid during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.
One Crazy Summer: This humorous MG novel tells about the crazy summer Delphine and her sisters have when they travel from New York to Oakland, CA, to reunite with their activist mother. It’s a fantastic story with memorable characters—and it’s full of ’60s history.
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere: Another title from my TBR, and I can’t wait to read this story about how one family survives Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans.
Bonus item: The I Survived series has books on all kinds of famous and fascinating events, from Pompeii to the Great Chicago Fire to the Hindenburg disaster. If you like your historical fiction to be in the form of a thriller, these are the titles for you.
(If MG nonfiction is your thing: check out the Who Was? series.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Behrens grew up in Wisconsin, studied in Chicago, and now lives with her husband in New York City, where she works as a textbook editor. Rebecca loves writing and reading about girls full of moxie and places full of history. She is the author of the middle-grade novel When Audrey Met Alice, which BookPage called “a terrific work of blended realistic and historical fiction.” Visit her online at www.rebeccabehrens.com.
Win a pre-order of the hardcover of Summer of Lost and Found, along with a pack of swag (signed and personalized bookplate, bookmark, stickers, postcard)!