The Luster of Lost Things by Sophie Chen Keller [in Library Journal]
Kirby Heyborne deploys his gentle charm to give voice to 12-year-old Walter Lavender Jr. who, owing to “a motor speech disorder,” might seem mute to the outside world but has an imaginative soul that can’t be silenced. Always an insightful observer, Walter is an unparalleled finder of lost things – 84 cases already solved, including buttons, photos, and a broken bassoon.
What remains missing in Walter’s young life is his pilot father, whose plane disappeared three days before Walter’s birth. His mother has filled some of that void with stories and the unique confections (marzipan dragons, penguin cookies, fizzy angel food cakes) she makes for their West Village bakery. And then the shop’s sweet magic all but disappears when “the Book” – seven leather-bound pages about lost love – is stolen, sending Walter and his canine sidekick Milton out into Manhattan to solve his most important case yet. His road to recovery will require the kindness of strangers, including an elderly Chinese woman, a chess teacher with missing fingers, and a girl who takes Walter running through the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Verdict: Keller’s endearing debut finds an ideal collaborator in Heyborne, who enhances the author’s winsome words with delicious delight.