Friday, September 12, 2008

Book Review: The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron

     But she still had doubts and anxious questions in all the crevices of her brain, especially about how to find her Higher Power.
     If she could only find it, Lucky was pretty sure she'd be able to figure out the difference between the things she could change and the things she couldn't, like in the little prayer of the anonymous people. Because sometimes Lucky wanted to change everything, all the bad things that had happened, and sometimes she wanted everything to stay the same forever.


Summary:
Lucky Trimble never goes anywhere without her survival-kit backpack, to try and be prepared for anything. Having lost her mom in a freak accident, she has been abandoned by her dad, who left her in the care of his French ex-wife, Brigitte. They live in three aluminum trailers, connected by soldered passageways, in the hardscrabble town of Hard Pan, California: population 43. Life is not easy there, and money is scarce.

Lucky worries that Brigitte will tire of her and of life in Hard Pan and move back to France, making Lucky have to move to a foster home, because "The difference between a Guardian and an actual mom is that a mom can't resign." To ward off this situation, Lucky spends her time eavesdropping on the 12-step meetings of the "anonymous people" at the Found Objects Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center, hoping to discover the key to finding her Higher Power, so she could take control over her life.

For Teachers and Librarians:
Not every kid has a "typical family," and many of your students may live in less-than-desirable situations. Some cope better than others. For those who are having a hard time figuring it all out, maybe The Higher Power of Lucky will give them some hope that they are not alone in their struggles to figure out where they belong, and that there are people out there who really do care for and love them. Themes of survival and the importance of community in helping us along in the journey through life are strong. Lucky worries that her guardian does not care enough for her to stick around. Though she tries her best to be self-reliant, she finds she needs the help of several people in town, including one of her best friends, and even an annoying little boy who pesters her incessantly, to help her find the Higher Power she so ardently seeks. She's looking for stability and security in her life, and eventually finds that it was there all along - but she was too worried to see it. There's not so much an academic use for your students as there is an emotional one, but it is a story that will grab hold of them and stay with them for a long time to come.

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
All kids worry about something at some time in their lives. Kids with uncertain family connections may worry a bit more than others, just like Lucky does in The Higher Power of Lucky. She has been raised by a guardian, her father's ex-wife, since she was 8 years old, and now that she's 10, she worries that Brigitte will decide one day that she's done with her, and move back to France. Kids living in uncertain circumstances may find this book helps them feel a little more secure. It may cause them to open up about fears or worries that they haven't expressed before. Lucky learns something about herself - that she's stronger than she thinks, and that there are people out there who care about her. That's a powerful message to kids in any situation. And for kids already in a secure home, they may come to appreciate just how good they've got it, and be a little more compassionate and understanding toward peers and classmates living in situations like Lucky's.

For the Kids:
Lucky is a ten-year-old girl with a lot on her mind. She misses her mom, who died in an accident at home. She worries that her guardian, Brigitte, will get tired of life in Hard Pan, California, and go back to France and leave her behind. She worries that if Brigitte leaves, Lucky will have to live in a foster home, and that scares her. So, Lucky starts trying to figure out how to find her Higher Power. She eavesdrops on grown-up's twelve-step meetings. She talks to people in her little town who've had hard times, but kept going. But she still can't find her Higher Power. So one day, she makes a bold decision, but her plans go terribly wrong. What did she do? What went wrong? Did she come out OK? I know, but you don't, and I'm not telling! Go get The Higher Power of Lucky and find out yourself - it's so much more interesting that way!

For Everyone Else:
Adults will quickly get pulled into this story, whether they have kids, or not. Whether you've been in a guardian situation, or you've known someone who was, or you've never had experience with guardianship at all. Because Lucky is a girl you can't help but want to see find that elusive Higher Power. You want her to know everything will be OK. Will it? Read The Higher Power of Lucky, and find out.

Wrapping Up:
The Higher Power of Lucky is a book that will grab your attention, and your heart, and keep it from beginning word to ending sentence. Lucky is a girl you can't help but like, and feel for, and worry over. Don't miss your chance to get pulled so totally into this emotional, heart-wrenching, but ultimately touching story.

Title: The Higher Power of Lucky
Author: Susan Patron
Illustrator: Matt Phelan
Pages: 144
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publisher and Date: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2006
Edition: 1st
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $16.95
ISBN-10: 1416901949
ISBN-13: 978-1416901945


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