My brother and I look nothing alike. not only separated in age, but also in appearance, we’ve never even come close to being confused with one another. Ray and Jay Grayson, however, run into this problem all the time. They’re identical twins. After a school mixup leaves only Jay on the official class list, they decide to keep the ruse going. A dangerous act, but worth the risk to find out what it’s like to be an individual for once. In “Lost and Found”, Clements takes on a slightly worn premise, with slightly worn results. Although quite readable, with moments of excellence, “Lost and Found” does not reside at the top of the author’s formidable list of achievements.
It’s the first day at a new school for Jay Grayson. It would be the first day for Jay’s brother Ray, but he’s out sick. When Ray’s name doesn’t appear on any of the attendance lists, Jay soon realizes that the school doesn’t seem to know about his brother, and he likes it. After always being compared to his twin, Jay basks in the glory of being Ray-less for the day. After explaining the situation to his brother, and understanding that they’ll be in trouble when it’s all over, the two decide to maintain the illusion that only one of them exists. Each day they trade – one stays home while the other attends school. But when homework, friends, and girls begin to enter the equation, it turns out to be a more difficult experiment than they thought.
Clements, famous for his realistic fiction school stories, does his best to inhabit the mind of a kid, as evidenced by passages like this:
The situation reminded Ray of their collection of Star Wars action figures. Because he and Jay used to pop off the heads and switch them around to make new characters. If you plug Boba Fett’s head onto Luke’s body, you’ve got Boba-Lu. Or Princess Leia’s head onto Chewbacca’s body makes Chewleia. And right now, it was Jay’s body with Ray’s head on it. And in math class that wasn’t so good.
For kids, that’s an attention-getter of a paragraph. Something they can see themselves in.
At a certain point, however, the plot loses steam. The switching back and forth between the twins gets a bit tedious and their cover is blown in a fairly mundane way. While not his finest, “Lost and Found” will still appeal to Clements fans. Readers new to this author should begin with “Frindle”, “School Story”, and “No Talking”.
Also reviewed by Literate Lives.
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