Middle Grade

The Museum of Lost and Found

Sometimes you have to lose it all to find what comes next

When Vanessa discovers the abandoned museum, she starts filling it with her own projects and art and memories. She organizes them and labels them. Maybe, if she can put them all together in just the right way, she can finally understand what went wrong.

Item #5: Fragment of a friendship bracelet.
Item #19: Two-headed monster Halloween costume.
Item #20: Hospital bracelet.

Why she can’t quit her bad habit. Why her dad lives on a military base thousands of miles away. Why a mysterious painting has been left behind, forgotten. And most of all, why Bailey, her best friend in the entire world, isn’t her best friend anymore.

Vanessa hopes that the museum will be the answer she needs. But what she soon discovers is that the museum has mysteries of its own…

Select praise

★ “Readers will learn to value memories of the past, but also to look forward to what is to come. This is an outstanding book for its unique and wonderful approach to relatable themes.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“A nuanced look at friendship, family, self-knowledge, coming of age, and community.”—The Horn Book

“Sales gently uses the museum’s exhibits to explore self-awareness, help her characters process past behaviors, and reveal consequences that are not initially understood. The inner thoughtfulness is balanced with an action-packed ending that satisfies. Creatively explores the complexity of middle school friendships.”—Kirkus Reviews

“It’s an intriguing premise, and the tone is delightfully conversational, even when tackling topics of shifting friendships, body-focused repetitive behavior, and having an active-duty parent overseas. Discussions of relationships are nuanced and thoughtful, and it ends on a realistic but hopeful note. A creative and compassionate examination of friendship in all forms.”—Booklist

“This multifaceted art mystery with a focus on interpersonal bonds tackles an array of themes—anxiety, friendship’s natural fluctuations, and learning to let go of the past.”—Publishers Weekly

“A beautiful exploration of friendship, family, and forgiveness, and the things we keep in the museum of the heart. So compelling and so deeply moving, I didn’t want it to end.”—Ruth Behar, author of Lucky Broken Girl

“Leila Sales explores complex friendship and family dynamics with insight, compassion, and humor in a story that will validate kids’ experiences while also encouraging them to consider what others are going through. Anyone who’s ever felt lost in the midst of too much change will find comfort in Vanessa’s deeply relatable journey—and will likely wish for their own secret museum, too!”—Laurie Morrison, Author of Up for Air

Selected for the CCBC Choices 2024 List. “The museum storyline provides an unusual and intriguing framework for this honest, nuanced look at loss, transitions, and change.”

Finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters 2024 Deirdre Siobhan FlynnBass Award for Best Middle Grade Book