Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Those with keen observation skills and a knack for making something out of nothing will always find treasure.  They may locate an item which no longer has significance to another who willingly gives it away.   Or they may discover a lost possession.

 The absence of this thing leaves a hole of sorts in the heart of the person missing it depending on its real or perceived value.    In their more philosophical moments they hope someone who needs it more than they do have it now.  When these things are spotted by an explorer, a wanderer or someone simply going about their daily business, their past experiences and particular personalities will assign worth and a use to it.  Lost. Found. (A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, November 3, 2015) written by Marsha Diane Arnold with pictures by Matthew Cordell begins on a wild, windy, wintry day as a bright red scarf takes flight.


Out for a stroll in a wood covered in snow, Bear's scarf is snatched from his neck by a stiff breeze.  Raccoons, one and two, begin to pull on it like contestants in a tug-of-war.  One, more of a trickster than the other, causes them to abandon it in favor of a chase.

A nearby beaver winds and weaves it as heady attire until a low tree branch changes its status to lost once more.  The next forest critter sees it as a timeless form of play to soar skyward until with a snap and splash, it's up for grabs again.  Soggy, much too wet to perform its intended use, a fox sets it in the sun to dry.

Three tiny mice try it out as a trampoline until their jumping sends them tumbling.  Anyone for a game of pine cone volleyball? Or would you prefer a brisk sway on a hammock?  Now loose the wind carries it through the forest.  Each of the animals spies it drifting past them.

A mad dash for ownership creates mayhem in the snowy glen.  When Bear gazes at the state of his scarf his resourcefulness rises to the occasion.  Knit one, purl two, one scarf, meant for many.

Two words, lost and found, tell this tale.  Marsha Diane Arnold gives us a winter day, Bear wearing a bright red scarf and a gust of wind.  She imagines a series of animals finding it, then leaving it, either on purpose, from romping gone wild or through the direct actions of others.  It's wonderful how her mind expands on the original "what if."  It invites us to do the same.

Since the first time I read a book illustrated by Matthew Cordell his style has captured my attention.  Unfolding and opening the matching dust jacket and book case, readers are presented with an entire image; Bear's scarf extends in the wind to the left as two rascally raccoons watch wide-eyed.  Regardless of the brisk breeze and air filled with snowflakes everyone appears happy.

The blue used to designate the snow becomes the color for the opening and closing endpapers.  On the title page Cordell heightens our interest as Bear leans into the ever-increasing gusts.  On the verso and dedication pages the tail of the scarf moves until with a page turn it leaves its owner.

As the scarf is lost and found, the line work of Cordell delightfully displays every enthusiastic nuance in the characters.  Added words conveying sound, many times through onomatopoeia, highlight the comedy found in his illustrations.  Each time the scarf is lost, the next creature is tucked into the picture ready to recover it.

After the initial reading of the story you need to read it over and over to locate all the extra details.  The one raccoon is giving the other the peace sign to set the stage for its trick.  The beaver is so content with his new attire; he is unaware of its loss.  Minks and muskrats known for their playfulness align with the scarf for maximum motion.    The squirrels throwing pine cones may or may not be a nod to Patrick McDonnell's nut-throwing squirrels in his Mutt's cartoons.  Make no mistake Matthew Cordell draws with intention.

One of my favorite illustrations (I love them all.) is the last one.  For this one Cordell leaves his white background with limited color palette in favor of a rich, blue-hued evening sky replete with white and yellow stars.  All the animals are gathered around a cozy fire.  Peace and contentment is mirrored on all their faces.  You'll understand why when you see this for yourself.

It only arrived on my doorstep yesterday but I've read Lost. Found. written by Marsha Diane Arnold with pictures by Matthew Cordell over and over.  With each reading your belief in finding something, anything, no matter the kind of loss is increased.  Sometimes you find a treasure you can't hold in your hand but one which must be held in your heart.

To learn more about Marsha Diane Arnold and Matthew Cordell please follow the links attached to their names to access their respective websites.  Marsha Diane Arnold has a teacher's guide under Fun Activities.  At The Children's Book Academy Blogettes site Marsha Diane Arnold has written about the publication process using this title as an example.  If you stop by Matthew Cordell's blog you can gain more insight about his work.  The publisher provides six interior images from this title at their website.  To gain even more information about this book, Marsha and Matthew please visit these blogs on the tour.

Nerdy Book Club
Kid Lit Frenzy
Read, Write, Reflect
Librarian in Cute Shoes
Watch. Connect. Read. 

Update:  December 10, 2015 Check out the adorable book trailer by following this link to KidLit TV.


  1. You seem to find the cutest books. I need to find this one.


    1. I am a huge fan of Matthew Cordell's work Catherine. When I know he has a book in the works I order it. He and Marsha created a gem with this one. Thank you.