The Lost Children, by Carolyn Cohagan

The Lost Children, by Carolyn Cohagan (Aladdin, 2010, middle grade, 320 pages)

"Plucky Orphans/Neglected Children in Deadly Danger" is one of my favorite sub-genres of fantasy for children, especially (and this is important) when they aren't Chosen Ones. This isn't to say that Chosen One stories can't be good, too--there's just a certain fresh piquancy (or something like that) that ordinary children can have that adds to my reading enjoyment!

The Lost Children delivers plucky children in spades. Young Josephine, neglected by her father, passes through a portal in a shed and finds herself in another world--a world where children are hunted by terrible beasts, known as the Brothers, who serve a sinister and powerful Master. Josephine has landed at the Higgins Institute for Wayward Children and Forsake Youth, but there are only two Wayward Children left (the others having been thrown to the Brothers)--a girl named Ida and a boy named Fargus. Together the plucky youngsters escape (as one might expect), and eventually (again, as expected) overthrow the bad Master.

Their journey to that happy conclusion is dotted with mystery and adventure, and the three central kids are nicely individual. The point of view shifts between them, and other minor characters, which further fleshes out the story. The strong characters of the kids, coupled with the particular circumstances of Cohagan's world-building, are more than distinct enough to keep the story fresh and fun, even though the bones of the plot aren't wildly original, and it never quite delivered all that much emotional power.

In short, a fine fantasy for the plucky-child-loving reader who doesn't require magical pyrotechnics.


  1. LOL. I never thought of the plucky-orphan-in-danger as a subgenre, but you're right, there are tons of books that fit into this category. Love the idea of ordinary kids acting heroically, too.

    This one sounds like fun. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I've looked at this one before. Thanks for the review. I thought it lookd just like a fun little book that my students would enjoy.


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