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Found: The Journey of The Lost Package

Found: The Journey of The Lost Package

The Lost Package
Written by Richard Ho
Illustrated by Jessica Lanhan
Published by Roaring Book Press
ISBN: 978-1250231352

Grades K and up

At the heart of Richard Ho and Jessica Lanhan’s fiction picturebook, The Lost Package, is the tribute to US postal workers that can be seen over the entrance to the New York City Post Office on 8th Avenue: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Beginning in New York, Ho’s narrative chronicles the journey of a special parcel that was “packed with great care, sealed tight,[…] stamped, labeled, and loaded onto a truck.” Lanhan’s vividly detailed watercolor illustrations breathe life into the narrative, showing the heart-warming story of a child’s random act of kindness in ensuring that the parcel is delivered to its intended recipient, on the other side of the country. Together, the words and images make an informative and satisfactory read-aloud that children will enjoy again and again. Moreover, the author’s and illustrator’s notes provide insights to the origins of this picturebook and the importance of supporting the USPS.

Virtual Storytime with Richard Ho and Jessica Lanhan

Teaching Ideas and Invitations
Note to our Readers: These ideas are not meant to be prescriptive. Choose one. Choose more. It’s up to you. Some ideas are bigger and will take a number of days to complete. Some are shorter. You can also choose to complete one part of a teaching idea, but not the whole thing. It’s up to you!

Parcels as a Part of Life. Recently, in part due to the Covid-19 lockdowns, many people have depended upon the delivery of parcels of goods and materials. As a pre-reading exercise, invite students to discuss their experiences with parcels and packages in their households or communities. Discuss the important roles that people play in the preparation, shipping, and delivery of packages. Read the author’s note at the back of The Lost Package to introduce students to Richard Ho’s father, who was a night-shift postal worker for the USPS.

The Journey of a Parcel via USPS. What happens after someone drops-off a parcel at the post office? As an anticipatory activity, invite students to share their ideas in words, drawings, or other multimodal formats about the kinds of steps and processes a package might follow in order to leave the post office in one state and to be delivered to an address in another state. Lanhan’s illustrations offer a glimpse of a USPS mail processing center, where “wondrous machines” process mail and parcels via a “maze of moving belts.” The educational videos of the USPS TV Youtube channel include tours of mail and parcel processing centers. Consult neighborhood post offices about the possibility of setting-up virtual tours of their facilities. Additional resources are listed below in the Further Explorations section.

Design and Mail a Postcard. The exterior of the parcel in The Lost Package features a “personal touch” as it was decorated with drawings of iconic US landmarks, much like a postcard. Invite students to examine a variety of travel postcards of US landmarks and/or other themes of your choice. Then, engage students in designing and illustrating their own postcards. As a culmination of the activity, provide stamps and invite students to write a brief note and to properly address the postcard to themselves or another person. Drop the postcards in the mail and encourage students to report on the postcards’ delivery to the addressee. For inspiration for this writing activity, introduce students to the recent Canada Post Write Here Write Now Project to encourage people to check-in with each other by providing pre-paid postcards to all Canadian households. Consult the Classroom Bookshelf entry for the picturebook Postcards from Camp (Paulsen, 2011) for additional ideas. See below for a list of online resources about creating and writing postcards.

What would you say in a letter? Each of the illustrations on the final two page spreads of The Lost Package is set in a San Francisco home and features a child with a letter in hand. In the first, the San Francisco child, who is the recipient of the parcel, reads the letter that was enclosed in the shipping box by the New York child. In the second, the San Francisco child prepares a brand new letter to enclose in a brand new shipping box with a different parcel item for USPS delivery back to the New York child. Divide the students into two teams. Encourage the first team to brainstorm ideas about the contents of the first letter. Then, invite each member of the first team to create a facsimile of the hand-written letter that the New York child sent. Invite the second team to follow the same process to create facsimiles of the hand-written letter that the San Francisco child sent. Welcome the students to share their letters with a member from the opposite team. As an extension, students can continue their exchange of personalized letters with classmates for other topics and purposes in class. For additional books and resources about letter writing, see the Classroom Bookshelf entries for Dear Substitute (Scanlon & Vernick, 2018), Thank You, Earth: A Love Letter to Our Planet (Sayre, 2018), The Day the Crayons Quit (Daywalt, 2013), and The Day the Crayons Came Home (Daywalt, 2015). Also see the picturebooks about letter writing on Epic!:

Postage. The parcel in this picturebook is “weighed, stamped, and labeled” at a USPS post office. If people are unable to go to the post office in person, then how can they pay for the delivery and/or shipping of their letters and parcels? Enter the pre-paid postage stamp. The website of the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum features an array of curriculum guides and virtual exhibits to engage children with the study of postage stamps. For example, Design It!: Student Stamps for America, is an elementary school curriculum guide that offers a comprehensive examination of the purpose, development, and use of stamps in the U.S. and abroad. Visit the museum’s webpage for Educators for an extraordinary array of resources and materials.

A Cross Country Trip. In The Lost Package, the illustrations suggest that the parcel was transported to San Francisco with a child and parent via moving truck across US Interstate Highway 80. How were parcels and mail delivered long ago, before transcontinental railway and airmail delivery service? Introduce students to the Pony Express, which was established in 1860 in response to the migration of people to California for the Gold Rush. Invite students to compare a current transcontinental roadmap of US HWY 80 with the map of the Pony Express route between Joseph, Missouri and Sacramento, California. In addition to the virtual exhibit and resources of the National Postal Museum, visit the website of the National Park Service for a wide range of resources and information about ways to experience the Pony Express National Historic Trail today. As an extension, invite students to imagine that they are responsible for planning a cross country road trip via HWY 80. Invite them to investigate the parts of the Pony Express trail they could visit along the way. Pair these activities with children’s books about the Pony Express, some of which are available at Epic!

Finding Lost Parcels. The Lost Package is a fictional story in which a child and parent generously transport and deliver an abandoned parcel to its intended recipient. Engage children in a conversation about what they would do if they found an unopened package in the street. What is the safest thing to do? Would they try to deliver the package? Would they open it? Would they try to tell someone about it? As an extension to this conversation, invite children to consider what they could do to help ensure that their packages are undamaged and delivered to the intended recipients. Consult the USPS website and Youtube channel for videos and resources about the successful packing, labeling, shipping, and tracking of packages without loss or damage. Gather an array of household items and shipping supplies for children to practice some of the strategies for packing delicate, fragile, or heavy objects for transport. Last, proactively examine the USPS resources for reporting and recovering lost parcels.

Further Explorations
Author Richard Ho’s Website

Illustrator Jessica Lanhan Website

America’s Mailing Industry. Virtual Exhibit

USPS Education Kits

The United States Postal Service: An American History

Wee Deliver: The In-School Postal Service. An Introductory Guide to the Postal Service’s Wee Deliver In-School Literacy Program

Behind the Scenes: USPS Mail Processing at Holiday Time

USPS TV. Systems at Work

Follow a Package from Order to USPS Delivery

History of Postal Operations – Virtual Exhibit

Chicago Postcard Museum & Virtual Exhibit

How to Make a Postcard