A Field Guide to Getting Lost
A Field Guide to Getting Lost
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Annotation: Told from two viewpoints, STEM-oriented Sutton and imaginative, artistic Luis, ages nine and ten, must find some common ground when her father and his mother start dating seriously.
Catalog Number: #199804
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 213 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-534-43849-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-534-43849-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019035650
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
McCullough, author of Blood Water Paint (2018), shows she is unafraid to forge new paths in her middle-grade debut. Nine-year-old Sutton is a fan of coding, where rules and logic govern an action's outcome, unlike in life. Case in point: her father is getting serious about his girlfriend, Liz, and pushing joint family outings with Liz and her allergic-to-everything son, Luis. This is how Sutton, a proud indoor kid, has ended up on a group hike. When Sutton and Luis get separated from their parents, they work together to make their way to the meeting point, learning that they have a lot in common in the process. McCullough's contemporary novel offers a realistic snapshot of modern families and the challenges that arise when trying to blend them. The motif of programming a robot through a maze (Sutton's project) is a touchstone throughout, as Sutton learns to adapt, collaborate, and allow for alternate routes in all aspects of her life. The likable cast and relatable premise will resonate with readers grappling with the uncertainty of change.
Kirkus Reviews
McCullough, who was a Morris YA Debut Award finalist for Blood Water Paint (2018), draws inspiration from her hometown of Seattle in her middle-grade debut.On the surface, Sutton and Luis could not be more different. Sutton is a logic-ruled robot coder with a passion for hard science while Luis is a fantasy writer who uses his pen to go on adventures that his allergies prevent him from undertaking in real life. Both are from single-parent homes, and when their parents' nascent romance grows serious, they are thrust together. Their first encounter is a bit of a bust as Sutton and Luis struggle to build rapport, but determined to give one another a second chance, the families decide on a hike. When the children are accidentally separated from the adults, they must learn to work together despite their differences in order to make it to their rendezvous point safely, in the process learning to confront problems and think with empathy and creativity. With chapters switching narrative focus between the two protagonists, their inner turmoil is handled with sensitivity, creating a character-driven tale that doesn't skimp on plot. While Luis' issues with severe allergies are explicit, Sutton's struggles with emotional expression and sensory overload are never given a name, though they are likely to resonate with readers on the autism spectrum. Luis is mixed-race Latinx and white, Sutton is white, and the supporting cast includes Asian and LGBTQ friends and neighbors. The notable representation of female characters in diverse STEM fields is heartening.Minor perils and likable characters make for a cozy and enjoyable read. (Fiction. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly
Ambitious nine-year-old coder Sutton, who is white, prefers life to be predictable. She worries about being left alone when her mother, who is researching emperor penguins, must miss Sutton-s birthday and her father gets serious about the woman he-s dating, Elizabeth. Elizabeth-s son, 10-year-old biracial (half Latinx, half white) Luis, practices -Mad-Eye Moody levels of constant vigilance- due to food allergies and longs for an adventure outside the fantasy story he-s writing. Luis is glad that his mom is dating-his dad died when Luis was young-but when the kids first meet, they seem to have little in common. Separated from their parents on a hike, the Seattle-area twosome must chart a new course, en route learning things about themselves and each other. In alternating first-person narratives, McCullough (Blood Water Paint) realistically portrays Sutton-s need for order alongside the frustration that both feel when things go awry. Sweet communal details, such as food prepared by Sutton-s ethnically diverse neighbors and the gluten-free French toast that Elizabeth makes, bring this warm tale to life. Ages 8-up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 36 McCullough's (Blood Water Paint) fantastic middle grade debut centers on two kids who could not be more differentor so they think. Sutton's mom is off studying penguins, and she's gotten used to her quiet homeschooled life with her dad. Luis longs for adventure, but his allergies often leave him stuck inside with his mom. Once their parents start dating, however, both of them have to adjust. When a hiking mishap leaves the kids by themselves, they must work together to push each other out of their comfort zones and get home safely. This title reads like the younger sibling of Susin Nielsen's We Are All Made of Molecules . What further sets this title apart from others is that we see the kids meeting for the first time, and going on outings together. This is unlike similar titles that begin with kids being forced to become stepsiblings. The secondary plots (of Sutton being a computer programmer and Luis being allergic to just about everything) help to keep things interesting but do not take away from the main plot. VERDICT McCullough is off to a strong start for middle grade readers. This title is enjoyable and covers topics many children will relate to. Recommended first purchase for all libraries serving children. Elizabeth Portillo, Finkelstein Memorial Library, Spring Valley, NY
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (2/1/20)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (3/1/20)
Word Count: 36,245
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 508098 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 760L
Chapter One: Sutton

The robot had a mind of its own.

Thankfully, the robot was the size of a golf ball and was not likely to overthrow the human race. At least not anytime soon.

Sutton looked carefully at the code and tried again. But again the little robot refused to turn right when it was supposed to. Coding was always black and white--you wrote the code correctly and your program responded how you expected. Two plus two equaled four. Or, more to Sutton's level, pi equaled 3.14159265359. There was no wiggle room, not like taste in books or music, which her dad was always telling her was subjective. Like that was a good thing.

In her last email, Mom had asked Sutton if she'd managed to get the bot through the maze in under a minute yet. Sutton had been surprised her mom remembered the robot. Even when Mom was in town, Sutton did all her school stuff with her dad. (Which mostly meant he looked over Sutton's proposed research topics and gave them a thumbs-up.) Thrilled by her mom's interest, Sutton had fudged a little and told her the robot had passed the test with flying colors. Which meant she needed to be ready to demonstrate when Mom came home next week.

When the robot refused to make the turn a third time, Sutton shoved her coding book off her desk. Somehow the loud thunk as it hit the ground helped release the tension that had been creeping up her spine. She picked it up and dropped it again.

"Whoa there, pumpkin." Her dad appeared in the doorway, dressed for work--black suit, shiny shoes. "What did that book do to you?"

Sutton frowned. According to their synced calendars, her dad was not supposed to be at the orchestra tonight. "Why are you wearing your blacks? Is there a performance tonight?"

He hovered in the doorway for a second. "Can I come in?"

She nodded, and her dad sat on the end of her bed. "No show tonight. I have a date."

Now her dad was the one refusing to follow the expected route. "A fancy date," she observed.

A smile passed over his face, but he wrestled it back into a serious expression. "Yeah, you know I've been seeing Elizabeth for a while now. I thought it was time we stepped it up from hikes and coffee."

Her father had gone out with Elizabeth seventeen times so far. Five hikes, four coffee shops, two combo hikes/coffee shops, two daytime movies, three evening movies, and miniature golfing. It seemed like their relationship had been stepping up for a while now, but then what did Sutton know about dating?

"We're having dinner at Cielo downtown and then going to the opera. I talked to you about this at breakfast."

This was vaguely familiar. "Was I fully prepared to engage?"

He chuckled. But it wasn't funny. Sutton's dad knew that until she had completed her morning routine--making hot chocolate, watering the apartment's jungle of plants while her apple-cinnamon oatmeal cooked, then eating while she mentally recited the periodic table of elements and the United States presidents in chronological order and then alphabetical order--she was not fully prepared to engage. Anything he said during that time was unlikely to be processed. Neither of them were morning people--she thought he knew that.

"My apologies," he said. "I should have known better. But, pumpkin, before you go upstairs to Mrs. Banerjee's, there's something I wanted to talk to you about."

Sutton's brain began to arrange the lines of code. Her dad was going on a fancy date with a woman he had seen seventeen times. He had forgotten their very well-established morning routine, which meant he'd been distracted, and he wanted to have a serious conversation with her.

Forget guiding her robot through a maze in a minute--now Sutton needed to figure out how to turn back time! Back to a time before her dad ever met this Elizabeth Paz. Because dating was one thing, but this sounded like it was leading to a proposal and a ring and a wedding and--

"Your mom called."

The lines of code scattered. "What? Why didn't you let me talk?"

"She was in a hurry."

"So she should have talked to me, not you!"

Sutton was used to her mom being way down at the bottom of the southern hemisphere, but this time it had been almost a month since they'd talked. Between the time difference and questionable satellite phones at the research station in Antarctica where her mom studied emperor penguins, she almost never called.

"The thing is, honey, she needed to talk to me. To make sure I had things covered here." He reached out and squeezed Sutton's hand. "Her return has been delayed."

Sutton snatched her hand back. She felt her ears getting hot and tears pricking at her eyes. Now she wanted to knock the entire bookcase over.

"I'm really, really sorry, pumpkin. The migration patterns are changing, you know, so the penguins are unpredictable and she really has to stay to monitor them..."

Sutton knew way more than she wanted to know about the stupid penguins' migration patterns. But the only migration she cared about was her mom's.

"Maybe I should have waited to tell you. Do you want me to stay home tonight?"

Of course she wanted him to stay home! He'd just ambushed her with terrible news, and on top of it, he was heading off on a fancy date that was leading nowhere good. If she showed him how upset she was about her mom, he'd stay home.

But Sutton wasn't a super big fan of showing her feelings.

Also, logic said this course of action would only postpone a proposal. It wouldn't stop it.

Sutton's chest tightened. There were too many feelings to keep hidden. If her dad kept sitting there, staring at her with puppy-dog eyes of concern, she'd burst. "You should go."

It wasn't until after they had trudged upstairs to Mrs. Banerjee's apartment, chased her yappy dog down the hall when the pup made a break for it, and said goodbye that Sutton had the worst realization of all: Her mom was going to miss her tenth birthday.

Excerpted from A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

“A cozy and enjoyable read.” —Kirkus Reviews
“The likable cast and relatable premise will resonate with readers grappling with the uncertainty of change.” —Booklist

A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating in this lively, endearing novel.

Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton—almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.

Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.

Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?

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