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Mira travels around the world—and into the past—in search of her missing mother, visiting the Wonders of the Modern World. Illustrated with line drawings from Mira's very own sketchbook.
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.
Praise for Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris:
"An engrossing, diary-style blend of history, mystery, and time travel."—Publishers Weekly
"With an engaging story, accessible history, and a spunky heroine, Mira's Diary is an absorbing, fast-pace adventure."—School Library Journal
"Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris is a passionate celebration of honor and integrity...fast paced and compelling."—Karen Cushman, Newberry Medal Winner and New York Times bestselling author
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Read an Excerpt
Even with all the high-tech ways of communicating, nothing compares to actual physical mail delivered the old-fashioned way by a real person. Getting a letter was always special, but even better was getting one at a hotel. Better still, at a hotel in Paris. That made the postcard even more romantic and exotic. But what made it the most mysterious was that it was from Mom.
She'd vanished more than six months ago, and for most of that time we hadn't heard a word from her. At first, my older brother, Malcolm, was sure she'd run off with some guy. Dad insisted she was on some super-important business trip. I didn't know what to think. But after weeks of being scared she'd been murdered, then furious that she'd simply left, now we knew the truth.
Mom was a time traveler. She was stuck somewhere in the past trying to change some event so that something terrible wouldn't happen to us in the future.
That was unbelievable fact number one. Except that Dad knew all about her time traveling. He simply hadn't brought it up because he thought Mom's time-traveling days were long over. So when she disappeared, he didn't immediately think, "Oh, she's in the past somewhere. She'll be home for dinner before you know it." But after a while, he began to suspect some weird time-travel stuff was happening.
It would have been nice if he'd said something to us then instead of letting us find out the hard way that Mom could time-travel. Seems like something you should share with your kids, like an earlier marriage or a half sibling, not something to be kept secret.
Unbelievable fact number two was that I could time-travel, too, which was how I bumped into Mom in nineteenth-century Paris and discovered the truth. If I touched the right thing (Mom called them touchstones), I'd be whirled into the past. The first time it happened was at the top of Notre Dame cathedral, and believe me, I wasn't trying to go anywhere. I touched one of the gargoyles perched on the edge of the railing, and before I knew it, the city below me had changed completely. No more cars or buses, no more satellite dishes, just horses and buggies like in a movie about the 1800s.
So even though we'd been in Paris for almost a week, I'd spent most of that time not really here but in the past, trying to follow Mom's directions so we could go back to being a normal family. Dad and Malcolm couldn't time-travel (at least not as far as we knew), but they helped me by doing research and figuring out what I should be changing and how. We actually made a pretty good team.
For all my time (yes, pun intended) with famous artists and writers like Degas and Zola, I had only halfway changed anything in the past. I wasn't a total failure, but I wasn't a huge success, either. Mom had left me cryptic notes in the nineteenth century that hinted I would have more to do. The postcard here and now probably had some kind of instructions.
Since we'd been busy most of the week in Paris trying to right a horrible wrong in history, we'd had only a few hours to play tourist. Last night, Dad, Malcolm, and I ate dinner outside at a cute little brasserie and walked back to our hotel in the warm summer night, just like your average American sightseers.
"I love this!" Malcolm had said, flinging his arms wide as we strolled down the narrow streets of the Marais. "We should be homeschooled for all of high school, just traveling from one amazing city to another!"
"At least for this year," Dad agreed. "While I have this grant. And until we get Mom back where she belongs."
I guess I should mention that Dad is a photographer. And that grant was the excuse he had needed to take us all over the place while he took pictures of the Wonders of the World. Not the original seven wonders, but ones the ancient Greeks didn't know about, like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Eiffel Tower. Really he was trying to track down Mom. We all were.
So when the postcard was delivered to our breakfast table along with the basket of croissants this morning, Dad almost jumped out of his chair.
"It's from Mom! She's telling us where we need to go next."
One side showed the Colosseum in Rome. On the other side was a message.
Dear David, Malcolm, and Mira,
I wish I could write more, but I don't have much time. (The one thing you'd think I'd have plenty of!) All I can say is that Mira's next time travel will be trickier because she'll need to disguise herself as a boy. And before she finds a touchstone, she needs to eat some ragwort. This is essential-you must not forget the ragwort. But not too much since it can be poisonous.
Please hurry! I miss you all terribly!
Mom sounded scared. Her handwriting looked rushed and panicked. Which, of course, made me scared. And she acted like I could pick how and when I time-traveled. So far it seemed like a complete accident. I stumbled onto touchstones or I didn't. I couldn't plan anything.
"Sounds like she's in some kind of trouble." Dad flipped the postcard over, staring at the picture side. "In Rome."
"But what am I supposed to do there?"
"You'll figure it out once you get there. Maybe you'll get to see her!"
Dad knew that wasn't likely. There were rules to time-traveling. We weren't supposed to change anything, just observe-though Mom was breaking that rule. Despite flouting the absolutely most important of all the restrictions, she seemed determined to follow the other less-important rules, like not taking anything from the past back with us. And families shouldn't time-travel together as that increased the risk that something bad would happen to change their future. As opposed to the good thing Mom wanted to happen to alter our future.
"At least Mom's telling you how to prepare this time," Malcolm said. "You can borrow my clothes and we'll figure out the ragwort thing."
"I don't understand why she's telling me how to dress. Last time my clothes changed all by themselves without me doing anything. I thought that was just part of time travel." I ran my fingers through my curly hair, which just brushed the tops of my shoulders. Should I cut it to look like a boy? Would a baggy shirt be enough to disguise any evidence of being a girl? "And what kind of mother tells her kid to eat poison?" I threw down the rest of my croissant. Suddenly it tasted like cardboard. Mom had to be really terrified to tell me to do that.
"So, we're going to Rome?" Malcolm did one of his little happy dances, jiggling in his chair. They were cute in our home movies when he was six or seven. Now that he's sixteen, they're just plain dorky. But if he wasn't worried, then maybe things weren't that bad. Maybe I was imagining that Mom was scared because I was.
"You're not worried about Mom?" I asked, hoping he would reassure me.
"Of course I am!" Malcolm said. "But I'm still glad we're going to Rome! I'll get to see the things I've read about in Pliny, Suetonius, and Livy, all that juicy ancient history." My brother was a big history buff, and I bet he knew more about that kind of stuff than his teachers did. I had to admit I was eager to see Rome, too. Roman Holiday was one of my favorite movies. And I was a big fan of pizza and pasta. Maybe this would be fun, not scary.
"Let's look into this ragwort thing," Dad said. He didn't seem worried or excited. Just practical. "If we can figure out why Mom told you to eat it, maybe we'll know what you're supposed to do once you go back in time."
So before we got on the overnight train for Rome, we looked up ragwort on the Internet. It didn't have any magical powers. In fact, it was very common-a weed you could find everywhere, kind of like dandelions. It even grew in a park next to the Paris train station. Suspiciously convenient. For a minute, I wondered if Mom had time-traveled to plant it just for me.
The signs said not to walk on the grass.
"Let me pick it!" Malcolm begged, not because he was eager to harvest ragwort, but because he loved the idea of ignoring the officious French warnings.
Dad scanned quickly for any police and nodded. "Hurry up!"
Malcolm stepped across the lawn in an exaggerated tiptoe, like a rubber-legged cartoon character. He picked the plant in slow motion, then pirouetted his way back to the safety of the sidewalk. Which shows how law-abiding my brother is, since this seemed like the height of bad behavior to him and he was smugly pleased with how reckless he'd been.
"Hand over the ragwort," I demanded. "And stop grinning. You act like you robbed a bank or something."
"Go ahead and eat some," Dad said. "And keep the rest in your pocket. So if you need more, you'll have it."
How would I know I needed more when I didn't even know what it was supposed to do? I nibbled on a leaf, chewed on a petal. Ick! Maybe mixed in a salad or on a sandwich, the flower would taste better. I felt like a cow grazing.
"Moo!" I joked lamely, forcing down the ragwort and waiting to feel if anything was different. "Nothing." I shrugged. "Still the same old me."
"Maybe you'll be different once we're in Rome," Malcolm offered, still proud of his great ragwort achievement.
"Maybe I'll be the same, but with a stomachache."