Allen Say - The Lost Lake

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The Lost Lake is Made for Sharing With Children

Aug 31, 2001 (Updated Aug 31, 2001)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:development of a father/son relationship; beautiful setting

Cons:Children really need guidance while reading this book to get the meaning.

The Bottom Line: Children enjoy this character study about the bonding of a father and son during their camping trip. Share this book with your children!


The Lost Lake is one of the stories that I read with my fourth grade students each year. This is a story of the relationship between a father and son. This children’s story shows how a father and son bond through their shared experiences on a camping trip.

The book is told from the point of view of Luke, a young boy who is spending the summer with his father. We immediately learn that Luke is lonely and bored. His father is very busy with his work, leaving little time for his son. Luke and his father do not communicate very well. We read how Luke spent some time cutting out pictures of canoes, mountains and rivers. At this point in the story I ask my students what kinds of activities do they think Luke would be interested in. The children use these clues to proudly discover that Luke might enjoy camping. The trick with reading with children is to use clues from the story and to ask questions. Children become confident readers when they feel they can make discoveries from the story details on their own. The ultimate goal is for children to ask themselves questions and to draw conclusions while they read silently on their own.

Luke is awoken by his father early in the morning to learn that dad is going to take Luke camping. Luke informs the reader that he didn’t want to ask many questions because dad is “grumpy in the morning.” So far we learn that dad does not talk much and can be grumpy. It is important to point this out because through this camping experience, we will see the change in dad and his relationship with Luke.

The children are extremely attentive during this story. There is quite a bit of dialogue between Dad and Luke. The children enjoy role playing these two characters and reading the dialogue aloud; one child reading for Luke and another for Dad. You may want to try this with your children. It helps them to internalize the sound of dialogue for when they read silently.

The story has a very serene feeling. It might even be described as a “slow read”. There is not a lot of action or actual events, but the focus is on the characters themselves. Dad is a very interesting character for children, because even though he is quiet, busy with work and sometimes grumpy, the children just know that he loves Luke and is doing his best to provide for him. Oh, so many children can relate to that!!

The goal for the rest of the story is to hike to The Lost Lake. It is special to Dad because his father used to take him there. Most importantly, no one knows about the Lost Lake--or so Dad thought. The journey is not an easy one. Both father and son experience disappointments along the way. It is through these unexpected turn of events that Dad and Luke are given the time to be alone together and to bond. This trip has given them the time alone, away from the stresses of daily living to speak about their relationship. They get to know each other. We see the change in dad as he begins to whistle and laugh. The children are very anxious to point out these changes.

Through the hard times we see Luke encourage his dad. We see examples of perseverance and determination. Calmly talking and communicating feelings is the best way to get our points across. There are wonderful lessons to be learned from The Lost Lake.

The illustrations are realistic and bold. We see scenes of blue skies as they hike, black background with a glowing red fire in between them, magnificent mountains with green grass. There are sandy beaches with flowing waves. Different types of land formations may be addressed though these lovely illustrations. The scenes of nature bring you to their fabulous destination.

By the end of the story, the children will see how Dad and Luke’s relationship changed from the beginning of the story to the end. And importantly, they know why it changed. The serene, calm mood of the story with its camping adventure theme is extremely appealing to children.

Vocabulary: While reading this story, children will be able to determine the meaning of several new words based on how they are used in the story. I always say, this is such a more meaningful way for children to learn vocabulary than by simply looking up words in a dictionary. Some of these words are as follows:

Compass
Darted
Glum (they’ll never forget this one!)
Muttered
Poncho

I also bring in dried apricots for my students to taste after we read this story. This is what Dad and Luke ate on their trip. I usually find that many of my students have never tried them. The various reactions from the children is always fun to see. You may want to try that to further bring this story to life with your children.


I highly recommend The Lost Lake, by Allen Say. I can’t wait to read this with my fourth grade students come September! I love to teach reading and I hope I have given some parents or caretakers some ideas to use while reading this story with their young ones.






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