The Lost Language Book Tour & Giveaway

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE LOST LANGUAGE by Claudia Mills Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


About the Book:


Authors: Claudia Mills

Pub. Date: October 12, 2021

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson Books

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 304

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, AudibleB&NiBooks, KoboTBD,

The quest to save the words of a dying language – and to find the words to save what may be a dying friendship – lies at the heart of this exquisite verse novel.

Sixth grader Betsy is the one who informs her best friend, Lizard, that thousands of the world’s languages are currently threatened by extinction; Betsy’s mother is a linguistics professor working frantically to study dying languages before they are lost forever. But it is Lizard who, gripped by the magnitude of this loss, challenges Betsy, What if, instead of WRITING about dying languages, like your mom, you and I SAVED one instead?

As the girls embark on their quest to learn as much as possible of the near-extinct language of Guernésiais (spoken on the Isle of Guernsey, off the coast of France), their friendship faces unexpected strains. With Lizard increasingly obsessed with the language project, Betsy begins to seek greater independence from her controlling and charismatic friend, as well as from her controlling and charismatic mother. Then tragedy threatens Betsy’s life beyond what any words can express, and Lizard does something unthinkable.

Maybe lost friendships, like lost languages, can never be completely saved.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection


“Betsys first-person narration is engaging and will speak to the many young readers who feel quashed by stronger personalities all around them. . . . The novel ends on a realistic, satisfying note as Betsys family moves forwardtogether—and she and Lizard reach a new understanding.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Mills writes in free verse here rather than her familiar prose, but her keen insight into dynamics and character remains evident, and the compact, accessible phraseology deftly distills the portrayals.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Starred Review

“Conveyed in the first-person perspective, Bumble’s epiphanies and observations are crystallized through concise language and evocative descriptions . . . while her evolving emotions surrounding her parents and Lizard are as eloquently conveyed as her growing understanding of the world.”—Publishers Weekly

“Told through Betsy’s delicate voice in verse, this title addresses issues such as parental depression, the aftermath of attempted suicide, cultural ramifications of indigenous languages, controlling friendships, and alcoholism. . . . [Betsy] discovers a healthier friendship with another classmate and . . . her surge of maturity brings her belief in her own inner strength and ability.”—School Library Connection

“Through well-drawn characters, this skillfully paced story thoughtfully addresses the need to be truly seen in our important relationships. . . . A sincere exploration of humanly imperfect love.”—Kirkus Reviews


Things I’ve Lost: A Partial List

Pooh Bear.

I took him on vacation

and he got left behind in the hotel bed,

but my dad called and two days later

a lumpy package arrived in the mail,

and the lump was Pooh.

My jacket on the bus

for the class trip to the planetarium.

Well, I almost lost it,

but Lizard noticed in the nick of time

and raced back to our seat

and grabbed it for me.

My special lucky button,

when I had a hole in my pants pocket.

Lizard found that for me, too.

My glasses, in Buddha Delight,

when my mother had already said

she couldn’t handle One More Thing,

and I knew that losing my glasses

would have counted as One More Thing,

but I told my dad, and he took care of it

and my mother never had to know,

so whew for that.


More pencils.

You may have noticed that I got everything back again,

except the pencils,

but everyone loses pencils,

and anyway the world is full of pencils.

You also may have noticed that it’s always

other people who get the lost things back for me.

So what would happen if you lost those people?

Who would help you get them back again?

Two Girls Named Elizabeth

Lizard’s name isn’t really Lizard.

(You probably already knew that.)

But here’s the strange thing. My best friend

and I both have the same name: Elizabeth.

Only she was Liz, and I was Betsy.

(Here’s another strange thing:

How can Betsy be a nickname for Elizabeth?)

But when we started being best friends

in third grade, she said Betsy

was a dumb name and I should be Liz, too.

So for one week, we were both Liz,

which made us the best best friends ever.

Except that it was confusing.

So she said she’d change her name to Lizard,

and I’d be the only Liz, but I said,

 in a very small voice, that I’d rather be

the only Betsy, and she gave a big sigh,

and said she’d call me B (for Betsy),

and then it became Bumblebee,

and then it was just Bumble.

Now we’re in sixth grade, and she’s Lizard

to everyone in the world,

even to her parents and her sisters,

even to teachers who sometimes forget that Lizard

isn’t a name teachers should be calling anyone.

And I’m Bumble to her,

but not to anyone else.

So when we’re together,

just the two of us,

we become two girls

named Lizard and Bumble.

What My Mom Thinks of the Name Bumble

She hates it.

The first time she heard

Lizard say, “Bye, Bumble!”

my mom said, “Bumble? ”

And Lizard said, “That’s her nickname.”

My mom said, “Her nickname is Betsy.”

And Lizard said, “Bumble is my nickname for her.”

My mom said, “Bumble, as in blunder?

Bumble, as in stumble? Bumble, as in fumble?

Bumble, as move in an awkward way?

Bumble, as speak in a confused way?”

My mom knows more about words

than anybody I know.

“Bumble like bumblebee,” Lizard said.

“Bumblebees buzzing around beautiful flowers.”

I could tell my mom wanted to tell Lizard not to call me that,

but she didn’t want to be mean to my new best friend.

But every time my mom hears Lizard call me Bumble,

which has been a lot of times over the last three years,

I can see her jaw tighten

with all the things she isn’t saying.

Movers and Shakers

My mother says Lizard

is a mover and shaker.

She didn’t say,

but I know she means,

I’m the one

who is

moved and shaken.

Like This One Time

Lizard was at my house,

sorting little pieces of broken tile

that my father brought from his workshop

to glue onto cheap plastic plates

to turn them into mosaic platters

for a banquet she and I were going to have.

Not a banquet for lots of people,

with roasted pheasant and cups of mead,

like in the book about the Middle Ages

we had just read together.

Just a banquet for the two of us,

with oatmeal raisin cookies and grape juice.

I was picking out some blue and silver

pieces for mine,

but Lizard said we should both make ours

with red and gold.

So I started to put the blue and silver pieces away.

My mother was helping to cover the kitchen table

with newspaper so we wouldn’t get glue on it,

and she said to Lizard,

“Why don’t you make yours the way you want.

And Betsy can make hers the way she wants.”

“Sure,” Lizard said.

Then she added under her breath,

“If Bumble doesn’t care that no kings and queens

would ever have silver platters if they could have gold,

and red goes with gold better than blue does.”

So I made mine red and gold, too.

And I couldn’t tell if my mother was more mad at Lizard

for telling me what to do,

or more disappointed in me

for doing it.

Lizard Can Stand Up to Anybody

Lizard stands up to teachers,

like when she told Mrs. Henderson

that Columbus didn’t discover America

because America had already been discovered

thousands of years earlier

by the people who were already living there

when Columbus showed up with his ships.

She stands up to bullies,

like when she saw some bigger boys

throwing a stone at a bunny

and told them she was going to report them to the SPCA,

which she said was the abbreviation for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,

and they said, “Yeah, right. Go ahead and report us.”

But they dropped their stones and walked away.

She stood up to Clarence Keaton,

who sat behind me in third grade and pulled my braids,

not in a friendly playful way, but hard.

She told him, “A boy pulled Bumble’s braids last year,

and I told on him, and he ended up going to jail,”

which was completely not true,

because we didn’t even know each other in second grade.

And no one would put a second-grade kid

in jail for pulling someone’s hair.

They’d probably get in-school suspension.

But Clarence never pulled my braids again.

It is a very useful thing sometimes to be best friends

with the bravest girl in the school.

Things I’m Afraid Of

Shots at the doctor,

though mainly just the minute before the shot

when I see the nurse coming toward me with the needle.

Getting tests back

when the teacher hands it to me facedown.

Scary music in a movie

when the movie is already scary enough

that I don’t need creepy tones to make it scarier.

Dogs that have rabies.

Dogs that don’t have rabies

but might bite me anyway.

My mother when she’s stressed.

Loud noises.

Worms on the sidewalk after it rains.

Mushrooms that sprout up on the lawn after it rains.

Lizard sometimes,

when she gets that glint in her eyes

like she’s going to talk me into doing something

I’m going to be sorry for afterward.

Lizard sometimes,

how mad she might get

if I didn’t let her talk me into things

I didn’t want to be sorry for afterward.

Having everybody,

especially Lizard and my mother,

think I’m a fraidy-cat.

Things Lizard Is Afraid Of


Lizard (and Me) at School

We were both in Mrs. Henderson’s class

in third grade.

Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be

if the person at Sandrock Elementary who decides which kids

to put in each class hadn’t put me and Lizard together.

Who is that person? Is it the principal?

Or the school secretary? Does a computer do the picking?

Or is it Fate, which Lizard says doesn’t exist,

but I think maybe does.

Why else would two girls named Elizabeth

both have braids with blue ribbons on the first day?

My braids were the color people call dishwater blond.

Hers were black like a night with no moon and no stars.

“I hate braids,” Lizard said

(only she wasn’t Lizard yet).

“I think they look dumb. I’m taking mine out.”

And then Lizard didn’t have braids anymore.

I loved my braids, but I said,

“I think they look dumb, too.”

But I didn’t take mine out.

My mother wouldn’t like it

if I came home without them

after she had gone to so much trouble to put them in.

“Yours don’t look as dumb as mine,” Lizard said.

That’s when I started liking Lizard.

And I think that’s when she started liking me.

The Next Year

Lizard and I weren’t in the same class in fourth grade.

I have a feeling my mother said something to somebody

to make that happen.

“I think this is going to be the year you really bloom,”

my mother said.

“I’m excited to see what new friends you’ll make,”

my mother said.

“It’ll be good for you and Lizard to have your own space,”

my mother said.

“Friends don’t have to be joined at the hip, you know,”

my mother said.

I didn’t say anything.

I didn’t want to bloom that year

if blooming meant not being friends with Lizard anymore.

The only friend I wanted was Lizard.

The only space I needed was the space where Lizard was.

Even if we weren’t joined at the hip,

Lizard and I were joined at the heart.

P.S. About Fourth Grade

Lizard and I still saw each other

all the time.

And I didn’t bloom.

Or if I did, nobody noticed,

including me.

The Year after That

Lizard and I were together again in fifth grade.

I have a feeling Lizard’s mother said something to somebody

to make that happen.

“My mother thinks you’re a good influence on me,” Lizard said.

Then she laughed. I laughed, too.

As if I could ever influence Lizard about anything.

Sixth Grade

Now we’re at Southern Peaks Middle School.

School just started,

and we have three classes apart:

language arts, social studies, and our “specials”—

band for Lizard and art for me.

But we have three classes together:

science, math, PE.

Plus lunch. Hooray!

I don’t think anybody’s mother

said anything to anybody

to make this happen.

In middle school Fate—

or the computer—

has a lot more power

than parents do.

Other Friends

Lizard and I have friends

besides each other.

But not a lot.

And not close friends.

Lizard has to be the first at everything.

Most kids aren’t as good as I am at being second.

That sounds strange: being good at being second.

But I think it’s a talent, sort of,

not to mind things other people mind.

I truly don’t mind if I say, “Let’s watch TV

without the sound on and make up the words,”

and Lizard says, “That’s boring,”

even though she’s the one who first thought up doing it,

so who is she to say

it’s boring now that it’s my favorite thing?

(Well, maybe I do mind this a little bit.)

But mostly I don’t care that much what we do,

so long as we do it together.

My Mother

My mother can speak five languages fluently:

English (duh), French, Italian, German, and Russian.

That’s her job—to know stuff about languages.

She’s a professor of linguistics at the university,

and even though she already speaks

more languages than anyone I know,

she studies other languages

that hardly anyone speaks anymore.

She travels to the places where very old people live

who still speak those languages.

The last people to speak a language

are always old,

because as the world becomes

more and more connected,

young people are the first

to learn new ways of living

and new ways of speaking.

So my mother tries to learn

as much of each dying language as she can:

the words in it,

and the rules for how to put the words together.

She records the old people talking

and writes a book about each language s

o that when the language is finally lost and forgotten,

there will be at least someone

in the world

who made it possible

to remember.


About Claudia Mills:

Claudia Mills has written many children’s books, including 7 x 9 = Trouble!, the Franklin School Friends series, The A9er-School Superstar series, and Zero Tolerance. She recently received the Kerlan Award for her contribution to children’s literature. She was a professor of philosophy for more than two decades at the University of Colorado and is now a faculty member in the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins University. Dr. Mills lives in Boulder, Colorado.


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Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE LOST LANGUAGE, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


Rockstar Book Tours

Kickoff Post


Kait Plus Books



Jazzy Book Reviews



Two Chicks on Books



I’m Shelfish



Jaime’s World



Nonbinary Knight Reads and Reviews



BookHounds Ya



The Reading Wordsmith





Week Two:


Not In Jersey



Little Red Reads



The Bookwyrm’s Den



#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog



Feed Your Fiction Addiction



Rajiv’s Reviews



Two Points of Interest



Lifestyle of Me



Books and Zebras



The Momma Spot



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