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Lost in Paris

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About The Book

Ooh la la! Gwen ends up on a Parisian scavenger hunt—with a cute French ami—in this M!X novel from the author of Lost in London.

Gwen Russell is thrilled to hear she will be heading to Paris with her family. Even though the main reason for the trip is to see her three older brothers play lacrosse, Gwen and her Mom have plans to tour the city when they can.

As soon as they land, Gwen is swept up in the city she has always wanted to see, and even meets a très cute boy named Henri. If that wasn't enough excitement, Gwen finds out that her all-time favorite band is playing a one-night only concert in Paris—and there are tickets available to the sold-old show for three lucky people. The catch? Fans who want a golden ticket have to work for it via a scavenger hunt around the City of Light.

Through cryptic clues blasted out every day through a special website, Gwen and her new friends find themselves in a race against time—and against other die-hard fans—as they scramble to landmarks throughout Paris. And it turns out the concert tickets might not even be the biggest prize...


Lost in Paris


I traced my finger over the gold emblem of my new passport. It was blank, but it would have its first stamp very soon. A stamp that said FRANCE!

My brothers were playing in a lacrosse tournament overseas, which meant that I got to go to . . . wait for it . . . Paris!

While the boys were off playing lacrosse, Mom and I planned to tour the entire city—the City of Light. That was what they called Paris. What I wanted to do most of all was to take a boat ride down the Seine—that was the river that flowed through the center of the city. My dad had to stay behind for work, so he would miss all the fun. Quel dommage! That was “bummer” in French, I thought, or maybe it was “it’s too bad,” or “scrambled eggs.”

Giddy with excitement, I placed the passport back onto the middle of the kitchen table, so everyone could see it. It had my name, Gwen Russell; my picture; and my birth date, indicating that I was thirteen. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” I asked Mom for the umpteenth time.

“Yes, it is. It’ll look even better with a stamp in it.” She looked at her cell phone. “The boys just texted. They’ll be home soon with pizza.”

By “boys” she meant my three older brothers. There were four kids in our family. I was the youngest and the only girl, the only one who stepped on the mat when she got out of the shower, the only one who took her shoes off at the door, and the only one who’d never traveled overseas. But not for long.

I pulled up the latest Shock Value video on my tablet and turned the sound waaaay up. I grabbed a broom, played air guitar, and sang along. I didn’t sing when the boys were around because they told me I was terrible, but when they weren’t around, I belted it out. I knew every word to this song.

Shock Value was only THE most amazing band. I dreamed that one day I’d get tickets to one of their concerts. I wanted to see Winston up close. He was my total fave band member. Maybe because he was the youngest, but also because he was the cutest with a capital C. But I doubted I would ever get to see them in person, since tickets to their shows were like a bagillion dollars. A girl could still dream, and I did. I wasn’t the only one nuts about Shock Value. My brothers and parents loved them too.

When the video was over, I played it again with the volume lower and jumped over the couch with a notebook in which I wrote song lyrics. I called it my Lyrics Notebook. Creative, huh? I jotted:

I’m going to Paris.

Café au lait.

I can’t wait for France.

To stroll along the boulevards.

I admired my work. Okay, so maybe these weren’t the best lyrics, but I was getting better. Maybe one day I’d write a song for Shock Value.

As I studied my notebook, the door to the garage slammed open, and Josh (seventeen), Topher (sixteen), and Charlie (fifteen) walked in, each carrying a pizza box. The kitchen instantly filled with the smell of boy sweat and garlic. They stacked their slices three high, grabbed extra-large Gatorades, and headed toward the stairs, where I knew they were about to play hallway lacrosse in between showers and burping.

“Come on, Gwen,” Topher said on his way up. “We need a goalie.”

The goalie was the one who kept the ball from rolling down the stairs.

“I’ll be there in a little bit.” I pointed to my mom. “Girl talk, you know.”

“No. I don’t know.” He flew up the stairs two at a time.

I sighed.

I said to Mom, “Tell me again about the flight.”

CRASH! It sounded like the ball had knocked something over.

“We’re leaving tomorrow evening, and we’ll fly all night on the red-eye,” Mom said.

“AWW!” cried Josh. I was pretty sure he’d caught an elbow to the gut.

I ran up to see the boy drama. No one was dead.

I hung out, and as the hallway lacrosse game whirled around me, I put my earbuds in, played a Shock Value song, and imagined myself in front of each fab sight in Paris. Mom and I really needed some quality girl time. ASAP!

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Lost in Paris includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


When a deed to an apartment in Paris turns up in an old attic trunk, an estranged mother and daughter must reunite to uncover the secret life of a family matriarch—perfect for fans of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Beekeeper’s Daughter.

Hannah Bond has always been a bookworm, which is why she fled Florida—and her unstable alcoholic mother—for a quiet life leading Jane Austen–themed tours through the British countryside. But on New Year’s Eve, everything comes crashing down when she arrives back at her London flat to find her mother, Marla, waiting for her.

Marla’s brought three things with her: the deed to an apartment in Paris, an old key, and newspaper clippings about the death of a famous writer named Andres Armand. Hannah, wary of her mother’s motives, reluctantly agrees to accompany her to Paris where, against all odds, they discover Great-Grandma Ivy’s apartment frozen in 1940 and covered in dust.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Each chapter consists of Hannah’s modern-day point of view and Ivy’s diary entries written in the early 1900s, alternating between the present and the past. Why do you think the author chose to structure the novel this way?

2. Early on, Hannah refers to her relationship with Marla as a “dysfunctional mother-daughter reality show.” During which points in the novel do we best see examples of their roles being reversed?

3. The story focuses heavily on the relationships between women. Discuss the differences and similarities between Marla and Hannah’s relationship and Ivy and Helen’s friendship.

4. In the apartment, Hannah and Marla discover mysterious clues about Ivy’s life, including a diary detailing evenings of drinking and dancing with Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, and other iconic expats. Why do you think Ivy hid her life in Paris from her granddaughter and great-granddaughter?

5. Can you pinpoint the moment after arriving in Paris when Marla and Hannah begin to mend their relationship?

6. As Hannah talks through her new Paris tour while walking along the Seine with Marla, Marla stops her and says, “Maybe it’s not so much what you say, Hannah, but how you say it.” Can you find other instances when Marla feels this way toward Hannah? Why do you think this comment hits Hannah so hard?

7. In her diary, Ivy discusses the volatile relationship between Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Discuss Zelda’s decision to give up ballet and her belief that Scott stole her work. How do you think the Fitzgeralds’ relationship compares to the other relationships in the book?

8. Hannah’s potential love interests, Aiden and Gabriel, are secondary to the story’s main plot. How do they still drive the plot forward and affect Hannah’s character development?

9. On pages 122–123, Marla and Hannah describe Granny Ivy as “stern and matronly.” In what ways do you think the war and Andres’ death affected and changed her? Do you think she kept the Paris apartment as a way to honor his memory?

10. On pages 128–129, Gabriel says that the Paris apartment is “a city treasure” and that “everyone wants to own a piece of history. Some are willing to pay extra to obtain it.” If you were in Marla and Hannah’s shoes, would you keep the apartment or sell it at a high price?

11. Toward the end of the book, Marla unites Hannah and her birth father. Why do you think the author thought this was important to the plot and to Hannah’s overall story?

13. Why do you think Hannah agrees to give her mother the Paris apartment? Discuss what you think the apartment and gesture mean to Marla.

14. By the end of the novel, Hannah and Marla have gained an apartment in Paris and newfound family. What else—tangible or intangible—have they gained?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Plan your own moveable feast! Make a picnic based on the meal that Aiden prepares for Hannah’s tour: French onion soup, crispy baguette with foie gras, and crème brûlée. Feel free to improvise, making the menu your own.

2. On page 227, Marla shows Hannah a “French phrase-a-day calendar.” Create your own set of French phrases and practice speaking them with your group.

3. While in Paris, Hannah visits the Rodin Museum, the Eiffel Tower, Shakespeare and Company bookstore, and the Seine. Assign each member of your book club one of these famous locations and have each bring a few facts so your group can create its own “virtual” Paris tour.

4. Ivy was a fashion designer in the 1920s. Research fashion icons of the era, including Zelda Fitzgerald and Coco Chanel, and share some of the key trends of the time.

5. On page 115, Hannah questions, “Why didn’t we ask for more details about her life when she was alive?” Reach out to your eldest family matriarch and ask her a set of questions about her past.

About The Author

Photograph by Cindy Callaghan

Cindy Callaghan is the author of the middle grade novels Lost in LondonLost in ParisLost in RomeLost in Ireland (formerly titled Lucky Me), Lost in Hollywood, the award-winning Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ’Em DeadJust Add Magic (which is now a breakout streaming original series), and its sequel Potion Problems. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Aladdin (March 17, 2015)
  • Length: 192 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781481426015
  • Ages: 9 - 13

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