A while ago, Mark Pallis asked me if we’d be interested in reading a book he’d written, called The Fabulous Lost & Found. He guessed that our two bilingual kids would love it.

He was right.

Well sort of.

Unfortunately, The Fabulous Lost & Found arrived in the middle of a hard core, anti-book phase with both my kids. They had decided that they hated reading or anything to do with books. Whenever I suggested a story, they would recoil in horror and RUN in the opposite direction…..They put up with the bed time story though, but we both knew it was payment in kind for the snuggles.

Their anti-book phase made my inner bibliophile sob quietly in corners. It caused me to fret as I drove them away from an unsuccessful library story time.  (They verbally heckled the nice lady and played chase around the shelves. MORTO).

Dear God.
Was I raising a couple of non-readers?
Oh the horror.
Enter a healthy dose of parental anxiety.

I know my kids, there is no changing their stubborn as fuck strong-willed little minds. I just had to sit it out and wait for the tide to turn. I mean they voluntarily eat broccoli now, so books couldn’t be permanently off the table. Right?

The day Mark’s book arrived, it sat in its envelope on the kitchen counter.

“What’s that?” Their nosy little selves enquired….
“Oh. It’s just a book”, I casually retorted. They wandered off to play lego.

Curiosity is a powerful weapon.

“Can we open it?” They poked the envelope and gave it an exploratory shake.
“I guess so… maybe….actually it was sent for you…” I said casually, “But it’s a book”….
“Oh?”

The flicker of interest was sparked. But the lure of their scooters was stronger….

“Can we open it now?” They demanded one morning after breakfast.
“Sure I said, maybe later we could have a look. After school? Or if you aren’t bothered by a new book, I could just send it back…….?”

They ripped the envelope open.

Their allergy to literature overcome.

Books – 1 : All the other things – 0

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The story is about a little Dutch mouse at the ‘lost and found’. He has to try to explain what he’s looking for to a couple of kind, English speaking frogs who don’t speak his language. My Dutch is not as good as the 7 year old’s, so he felt massively smuggy-smug-smug about being able to read the Dutch parts of the story better than me. Peter Baynton’s illustrations are smashing and really funny. There were tons of little details that kept their busy eyes searching. We all agreed that we wished the Lost and Found was a real place we could visit.

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The book has been written with the idea of getting children interested in learning another language through the story powered learning method.  The books are available in a plethora of other languages – Czech, French, Welsh …even Irish….. We stuck to just English and Dutch. Massive respect to families managing three or four languages at home. Mental processing super powers that you are.

The Fabulous Lost and Found is also a tale of not being able to communicate what you need to. It touches on some of the feelings that might cause ….. and the silly situations you can end up in, when you don’t have the words for the things.

As an expat mum, I was given a reminder of the world my kids journey through and conquer every day. It opened up a chat about feeling frustrated when we can’t use our words.

Staring directly at the 4 year old there I was.
Without blinking.
This is specifically at you my love.
Listen up.

The kids loved the book, so much, that they ended up bringing it into school and asked their teachers to read it at story time. I heard back that my kids enjoyed watching their Dutch friends needing the teacher to help them understand the English in the story and that my kids got involved in explaining it. A story with the side effect of having confidence boosting powers!

Please publish more books Mark and Peter – We will definitely read them.

In the meantime though, The Fabulous Lost & Found has a place in our ‘favourites pile’, and we will gleefully re-read …..as long as the hard core, anti-book phase doesn’t return….

I was born in Ireland, grew up in England and met my Cornish husband in Catalonia. We now live in the Netherlands, in Dutch suburbia with our two differently wired, small kids. I spend my days parenting, writing and being amazed at all the Dutchness around me.

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