#180 – Lost and Found by Bill Harley

5 Stars
Lost and Found
Bill Harley
Peachtree Publishers
No. Pgs: 32    Ages: 4 - 8

Peachtree Website: When Justin loses the special hat his grandmother made for him, he looks everywhere he can think of to find it. Everywhere, that is, except the lost and found. Mr. Rumkowsky, the old school custodian, is the keeper of all the lost and found items, and everyone is afraid of him, including Justin.

With his grandmother coming to visit soon, his mom upset, and the hat nowhere in sight, Justin finally musters the courage to enter Mr. Rumkowsky’s domain. There he discovers a whole world of treasures – lost items Justin’s friends (and generations of children before them) have been too afraid to claim. Things keep getting weirder and weirder, until way down at the bottom of Rumkowsky’s giant box Justin unearths something completely unexpected…


Justin has lost his hat, the special hat, the one grandma made him, with the red ball on top that fell off. Now, grandma is coming for a visit and mom is upset that Justin has lost his hat. But Justin has asked all his friends and no one has seen his hat.

“Did you ask Mr. Rumkowsky?”

None of the kids wanted to ask Mr. Rumkowsky if he found anything they had lost. They were each too afraid of Mr. Rumkowsky, who was the old custodian located at the end of the scary hallway, behind the cafeteria. Justin continued to look every place imaginable and a couple more after those. Finally, Justin knew what he had to do. His grandma was coming for a visit and he needs his hat.

Mr. Rumkowsky has been with the school forever and he grumbles and frowns. This makes him look scary and none of the kids wants to find out if they are wrong, because they believe they are right. Justin is at the end of his rope and must now go to the lost and found, which means going to see Mr. Rumkowsky.

I enjoyed Lost and Found. The basement corridor that went past the custodian’s office was terrifying in elementary school, as was the dreaded principal’s office. The authority these imposing adults had over “us” kids was actually terrifying. Like Justin and his friends, we were afraid though we had no real information to make such a decision.  Unlike Justin, none of us was ever brave enough to go down that hall. Justin shows much courage not once, but twice and several times after that. Soon, Justin discovers treasures galore in the lost and found from generations of students, and he finds Mr. Rumkowsky is a good guy.

The illustrations really set the mood for this story. The full spreads are wonderful representations. The custodian’s door has multiple locks that perpetuate this climate of fear. This generational mistrust is easily seen. A closer look at those locks on the custodian’s door shows they are on the inside of the door, as if Mr. Rumkowsky was afraid of what might enter, perhaps a student needing help finding a lost item.

Boys and girls will love Lost and Found, especially if they have a similarly scary person at their school. Librarians and teachers will love this book for its perfect story time quality, the expressive text matched with the dynamic illustrations, that can be seen to several rows back.. Mr. Harley and Mr. Gustavson have produced a picture book that is unique yet captures a common childhood dilemma: the fear of authority.

Interview with Author Bill Harley HERE!

Lost and Found

Author: Bill Harley   website   activity fun!   newsletter
Illustrator: Adam Gustavson   website   facebook
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers   website
Release Date: October 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-56145-628-4
Number of Pages: 32
Ages: 4 to 8
Grades: Pre-K to 3

7 thoughts on “#180 – Lost and Found by Bill Harley

  1. Pingback: review – Charlie Bumpers vs. the Teacher of the Year by Bill Harley | Kid Lit Reviews

  2. When I first saw the cover, I thought it was a photograph. Very realistic illustrations. Made me wonder if the illustrator used models, photographed his scenes, and drew from those.


    • The treasure was . . . completely unexpected. LOL The treasure will make you laugh, smile, and get a little sentimental. It is one of the best endings I have read thus far for picture books. Usually, I can guess close to what the ending will be, but not this one. It was completely unexpected. Did I already say this? Well, it was. I mean, is.


  3. Pingback: A short Q&A with Author Bill Harley « Kid Lit Reviews

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