The Lost Language

Claudia Mills. Holiday House/Ferguson, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5038-1
Two presumed-white Colorado sixth-grader best friends named Elizabeth—known as “Bumble” and “Lizard,” respectively—navigate their shifting friendship in this tender novel-in-verse by Mills (Zero Tolerance). According to Betsy’s disapproving mother, a workaholic linguistics professor, Liz holds outsize sway in the girls’ relationship. Still, when Lizard decides that she and Bumble should learn a dying language to save it from extinction and impress Bumble’s mother, Bumble eagerly follows her lead. Their attempts prove frustrating, however, when no one else seems interested in their mission. Meanwhile, Bumble lands a nonspeaking role in the school’s production of Alice in Wonderland and finds new friends, making Lizard jealous. When they both experience family crises, a cruel betrayal further threatens the girls’ fragile relationship. Conveyed in the first-person perspective, Bumble’s epiphanies and observations are crystallized through concise language and evocative descriptions (“Her face looks like/ the face in this famous picture/ of a person screaming/... like when you’re in a bad/ dream and you’re trying/ to call for help/ and no sound comes out.”), while her evolving emotions surrounding her parents and Lizard are as eloquently conveyed as her growing understanding of the world. Ages 9–12. Agent: Jennifer De Chiara, Jennifer De Chiara Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/29/2021
Release date: 10/12/2021
Genre: Children's
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