It’s only the end of July, but it’s back to school time anyway with the next book from Andrew Clements. Lost and Found continues what was begun so masterfully in Frindle: telling readers a school story about school kids that quite easily, and with very little imagination, could happen in the very school readers attend.
Everyone knows a kid like Nick in Frindle. Most kids could imagine a class newspaper like in The Landry News. Most kids can relate to, or at least imagine, a new rich kid in school (A Week in the Woods) or a genius classmate (The Report Card) or life in a one room school house (Room One). But Lost and Found covers a subject that every single kid daydreams about at one point or another: What if I had an identical twin?
Yep, every single kid. Except the twins.
Jay Ray and Ray Jay are identical twins, save for the freckle on Ray’s right ankle. All their life they’ve been known as the twins. “Look at the twins!” and “Aren’t they cute?” They’ve had matching sailor suits and cowboy outfits and Superman pajamas and pictures, pictures, pictures. Of them both. Always both of them. The twins.
Other kids found it hard to make friends with one of them since, well, there were two of them. How would you pick? As they got older the frustrations grew worse – switched grades, love notes to the wrong brother, revenge paid back to the innocent twin. How can you avoid comparisons to your brother when the two of you are exactly the same?
So when the Grayson family moves to a new town and Ray stays home sick from school on the first day, Jay realizes that school officials aren’t expecting two brothers. Ray’s file has been mistakenly stuck inside Jay’s. He lives a full day as Jay. Just that…Jay. Not Jay and Ray, Ray and Jay, the twins. And it’s great! After Ray’s second day home sick, they both realize how cool it is to be twinless.
They also realize that if nobody expects two kids, only one needs to arrive at school. What if they shared the load, rotated days, did half the work?!?! After all, they’re identical. Nobody could tell the difference! So they put their plan into action. Two boys, one person. Easy.
But then Ray has to go to soccer practice when Jay is the better athlete. And then Jay has to talk to lab partner Melissa when Ray’s much smoother with the ladies. How can Ray get extra help in math when Jay is doing problems on the board? How can Jay get to know Julie Parkman when Ray has his eye on Melissa?
When Ray secretly confesses the ruse to Melissa and Jay confesses to soccer teammate James, who has twin brothers of his own, the secret slowly seeps out. And when the school nurse discovers the missing file, Jay and Ray’s plan becomes the secret everyone knows.
Eventually Jay and Ray – and everyone else – realize an important truth: Just because two people are identical doesn’t mean they’re the exactly same.