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From The Asian Reporter, V17, #22 (May 29, 2007), page 16.
"How can you lose a lake?"
The Lost Lake
By Allen Say
Houghton Mifflin, 1989
Paperback, 32 pages, $6.95
By Josephine Bridges
Summer vacation at Dadís may start out boring, but it doesnít end up that way. After a month working at the drawing board in his home office, the narratorís father in Allen Sayís The Lost Lake notices that his son Luke ó fresh out of books to read, tired of television ó has cut "pictures of mountains and rivers and lakes" out of old magazines and put them up on the wall of his room. Thus begins a quest for the Lost Lake. Dad, who is usually grumpy in the morning, smiles when Luke asks, "How can you lose a lake?"
"No oneís found it, thatís how," replies Lukeís father. "Grandpa and I used to go there a long time ago. It was our special place, so donít tell any of your friends." Father and son strap on backpacks, and Luke hopes that Dad is joking when he tells the boy he didnít bring any food: "Weíll have to catch our dinner, you know." Luke is tired and hungry when they finally reach the lake, where dozens of people are fishing, swimming, boating, and sunning themselves. "Welcome to the Found Lake," mutters Dad before he turns around and walks away.
"Then it started to rain." Lukeís poncho keeps him dry until the two settle into their cozy tent and a dinner of salami and dried apricots. Itís Lukeís idea to press on farther into the mountains: "Maybe we can find our own lake." Later, upon learning that they are sharing the forest theyíve entered in their cross-country trek with bears, Luke wonders if they should have stayed put, but a fire, freeze-dried beef stroganoff, and shooting stars cheer the boy up.
"You seem like a different person up here," Luke confides to his father. "You talk more." But what greets the two when they wake up the next morning takes them both beyond words.
Allen Say claims to be a misanthrope, but Iíd argue that he just doesnít care for people in gaggles. In the warming relationship between the father and son in The Lost Lake, many of the best qualities of human beings come to light. Allen Say doesnít just write, of course, he illustrates his wise and simple words with watercolors that make you want to hike into the mountains with someone you love. And if youíre like Luke and his father, you may find something even better than what you were looking for.