The Train of Lost Things, by Ammi-Joan Paquette

The Train of Lost Things,  by Ammi-Joan Paquette (Philomel Books, March 2018)--a sad middle grade fantasy, but full of comforting love.....

Marty's dad is dying, and Marty is on the verge of actually realizing this awful fact is true.  But he's distracted--he's lost the jacket his dad gave him, and all the pins, each a special memory, that his dad had given him to fasten to it.  One of his dad's stories was about a train of lost things, travelling the world and holding all the precious belongings lost by kids over the years, and Marty, desperate to believe that there is something he can actually do to fix things, set outs to look for it.  Miraculously, he finds it, and with another young searcher, a girl named Dana, gets on board.

But the train of lost things is a mess.  There's no driver or conductor to keep things on track, just a lost girl named Star.  You only get the one night on board to find what you lost, which doesn't give Marty or Dana much time to find what they lost.  Somehow, the three kids must get the train fully up and running again....

Though there is no magical happy ending in which Marty's Dad miraculously recovers, there is love and closure at the end.  So though it is terribly sad, it's not utterly heartbreaking.

It's a very vivid, very quick read.  The characters are made very real, with very little page time; we don't get told everything about them, but they are solid. The train is a marvelous place, and every young reader will be reminded of the precious things they themselves lost, and so it's a book with great emotional resonance.  Give this to young readers who like their magic to come with a helping of Sad, or vice versa.  Obviously this one works best if you can just suspend disbelief and ride the magical rails, but even if you have a cynical side to you (raises hand) you can't help but be moved.

(this weekend I'm reading like crazy for the 24 in 48 Readathon; here's my progress post....)_


  1. Love the cover, love the title, and love the concept. I like a good heartbreaker now and then. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Aw this really does sound heartbreaking -- but wonderful! I'll have to keep an eye out for it.


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