The Lost Flower Children blends gentle fantasy with tough reality. Olivia and Nellie, who is five and has some very stubborn, particular, complicated traits that most parents will recognize, have lost their mother and are "spending the summer" with elderly Great Aunt Minty. Great Aunt Minty knows almost nothing about children but a lot about gardening and soon the girls are our digging with her. The unearthing of a blue teacup leads to Great Aunty Minty's childhood storybook, which contains the story "The Lost Flower Children," about children at a tea party who are turned into flowers by angry fairies. They can only regain their human form when every piece of missing china has been found hidden or buried in the garden. Adults will realize what is happening as the search brings the girls new friends and interest, but children will find it magical.
The three main characters, Olivia, Nellie and Aunt Minty, are very well drawn and in this short tale, Lisle has created a satisfying story of lost things and people waiting to be found. Along with Abel's Island, The Lost Flower Children, for me represents the ideal in children's literature for the 2nd and 3rd grade reading level. It is a thoughtful story about human relationships, things lost and things gained and it is creative and well written without being condescending, colloquial or simplistic.