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Mira’s Diary
Author: Marissa Moss
Lost in Paris Published September 4th, 2012 by Sourcebooks
Home Sweet Rome Published April 2nd, 2013 by Sourcebooks
Bombs Over London Published August 26th, 2014 by Creston Books

Lost in Paris Goodreads Summary: Mira is shocked when she receives a postcard from her missing mother from Paris. Her father decides it’s time for a trip to France to search for her. While visiting Notre Dame, Mira touches a gargoyle and is whirled into the past. There she meets the famous painter Degas and catches a brief, shocking glimpse of her mother. Mira begins to suspect that her mom didn’t run out on them but is a prisoner of the past. Can one family on an incredible worldwide adventure stop a plot in time?

Home Sweet Rome Goodreads Summary: As if traveling to a new country in search of her missing mother weren’t difficult enough, Mira has to do it dressed as a boy. In a different century.

A new postcard from her time-traveling mother points Mira to the 16th century Rome. But before she can rescue her mom, she must follow the clues left around the city to find Giordano Bruno, a famous thinker and mathematician, who discovered something so shocking that important Italian officials don’t want it revealed. All the while avoiding the Watchers–time-traveling police who want Mira back in her own time.

It’s another whirlwind adventure for Mira, and this time she is determined to bring her mother out of the past.

Bombs Over London Goodreads Summary: In the third book of the popular time-travel series, Mira navigates her way through WWI London, meeting famous suffragists and writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Instructed by her time-traveling mother to steal a German spy’s briefcase full of secrets and pass on the information to British Intelligence, Mira struggles with whether the changes she has been working for are the right thing to do after all. How much control do we really want of history? When is it best to leave our fate in destiny’s hands?

My Review of Lost in Paris:  I was enthralled by this smart, yet still accessible middle grade novel. Once I began it, I did not want to put it down.

The book was not only packed with an interesting concept (Mira and her mother travel through time to try to right wrongs that haven’t happened yet), but the book was filled with information about late 19th century Paris, French history, and art. Although some may feel like there was information overload, I found it all so fascinating. I am primarily sucked in when a book includes history that is less well known and that is exactly what this book did. Do you know about the Dreyfus Affair? After reading you will. I was also so excited to read a book so full of art history and art elements. Each page includes sketches from Mira and throughout the book you meet incredible artists such as Degas, Monet and Rodin. A cast of characters that is better than any fiction. This part of the book actually reminds me a lot of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris except Mira is trying to fix something instead of fixing herself.

My Review of Home Sweet Rome and Bombs Over LondonI don’t want to share too much about these titles as my thoughts are a bit spoilery, but I want to say that they did not disappoint. After reading book 1, all I wanted was to know what happened to Mira next, and I was not disappointed in her next adventures. I know book 4 is going to be in our future, and I cannot wait to read that one as well.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: One wish I had while reading books 1 & 2 was wanting to see the artists’ works as each artist was introduced. I was blessed enough to have an art-filled childhood so I could picture many of the pieces; however, many students do not have that background knowledge. This would be a great thing to do when reading the novel–share the artwork with students as you encounter them in the story. It would also be meaningful to find primary sources from the time period to share with students as you read Mira’s story.  This will make learning about the time period even more impactful.

Additionally, Marissa Moss’s writing is one that can definitely be used as an example of imagery and descriptive writing during writing workshop or other writing lessons. She actually sucks you in when Mira time travels, and deposits you in history that you can visualize.

Discussion Questions: Research one of the artists mentioned in book 1 or 2, write about his or her life, artwork, beliefs, etc.; Write about a time in your life when you had to trust your instincts, when you weren’t sure what to do but had to make a decision based on what felt right to you in the moment.; Was there a time when you had a feeling your parents were incorrect? What happened?; Which of the three places that Mira has visited would you have liked to go? Why?

We Flagged: “Dad was right – [Notre Dame is] truly a wonder of the world…

Usually when you go into a building, it’s lighter or darker, cooler or warmer than outdoors, but it’s still part of the same world. Stepping into Notre Dame was like changing time zones or countries, crossing some magical border. A hush filled the cavernous, echoey space of the cathedral, despite all of the voices of tourists murmuring and people praying, as if the sound was absorbed into the bones of the building itself.

Light streamed in from the windows like a physical presence, the kind of light you think you can reach out and touch…The air itself felt still and chilled by the stone all around. The walls were stretched thin between the pillars that soared into a vault overhead, like the skin of a massive beast taut between its ribs.” (Lost in Paris, p. 14-15)

“The day was gray and cold. I found myself in a busy street lined with crumbling brick buildings, shabby tenements with darkened windows. Dingy laundry hung in lines across the narrow alleyways. This may have been historical London, but there was nothing charming here. Just three-story houses of shuddering poverty with narrow doors and small pinched windows, as if sunlight cost money. The whole place was dark, muddy, broken-down, stinking of fish and rot and some indefinable yuck. The stench was so thick it had a physical presence, like a filthy hand pressed against my nose.”  (Bombs Over London, p. 26)

Read This If You Loved: Ruby Red (series) by Kerstin Gier, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Blue Balliet novels

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**Thank you to Gina and Samantha at JKSCommunications for having us as part of the blog hop!**

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