LOST AND FOUND
by Oliver Jeffers - Harper Collins, 2014
ages 2 to 12 years / heartwarmers
Have you ever felt LOST or perhaps just out of place, in need of home? Ahh, but have you ever felt FOUND, in the perfect place, completely at home?
In this thoroughly appealing story, a boy and a penguin move from being lost to being found.
Ostensibly it's the penguin that is lost, but eventually it becomes clear that the boy is lost without the penguin too. Here is a young boy who makes a most surprising find:
A penguin appears at his door and follows him everywhere. It becomes clear to the boy that the penguin is lost and needs to find its home. So the boy searches, he asks for help, he researches and finally decides that the penguin should be taken home to the South Pole.
"They rowed south for many days … and nights with the boy telling stories all the way. The penguin listened to everything that the boy said . . ."
It’s quite the journey, it takes careful planning and a lot of work, but eventually the boy and the penguin reach the South Pole.
And they reluctantly say goodbye.
There are all sorts of long-lasting ideas here: lost things (or people) need to go home—it's worth the struggle to find the right answer—sometimes considerable sacrifice and letting go is necessary in life—doing for others is worthwhile and fulfilling.
But there’s more! There’s a twist that lets us think twice about many of the messages so far. I don’t want to lessen the impact of a first reading, so rather than tell the story, here are some of the other messages:
Relationships are formed over time and with shared narratives.
Obstacles that seem insurmountable will come to an end.
Maybe it’s not a good idea to decide what is best for someone else.
It’s worth the effort to keep a friendship together.
Sometimes we don’t notice that we are lost.
Someone will rescue you, but it may not be who you expect.
There’s such a tremendous amount of good in this little story. It can be read to very young children and it still has meaning for teens and adults.
The illustrations are charming—well, it’s Oliver Jeffers so we expect that. I love that the images match the tale so well and that there's clarity and detail at the same time. And if you’ve ever felt lost, out of place or in need of a home, you just might recognise yourself in the boy. Or the penguin!