Friday, August 3, 2007

The Higher Power of Lucky ~ by Susan Patron

I frequently read YA and children's books, but I haven't reviewed any here. It changes with this one, which I discovered when I read 3M's review of this 134-page book for children 9 to 12. From the dustjacket:
Lucky, age ten, can't wait another day. The meanness gland in her heart and the crevices full of questions in her brain make running away from Hard Pan, California (population 43), the rock-bottom only choice she has.

It's all Brigitte's fault -- for wanting to go back to France. Guardians are supposed to stay put and look after girls in their care! Instead Lucky is sure that she'll be abandoned to some orphanage in Los Angeles where her beloved dog, HMS Beagle, won't be allowed. She'll have to lose her friends Miles, who lives on cookies, and Lincoln, future U.S. president (maybe) and member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers. Just as bad, she'll have to give up eavesdropping on twelve-step anonymous programs where the interesting talk is all about Higher Powers. Lucky needs her own -- and quick.

But she hadn't planned on a dust storm, Or needing to lug the world's heaviest survival-kit backpack into the desert.
How can anyone resist such a story? I didn't have any books like this to read in 1950 when I was ten! It's a great book for children, but I also recommend The Higher Power of Lucky to moms and grandmothers, too, so we can remember what it's like to be ten years old. That's old enough to know all kinds of things, but not quite mature enough to understand them. And why is Lucky wearing a flowing red dress on the book's cover and carrying an urn?

Her friend Lincoln is a nerd and a word-person, as I have been since at least the age of two. Let me give you an example: Lincoln was so annoyed by a sign that said SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY, that he had to "fix" it. He didn't want people to think that the children around there, including Lucky and himself, were SLOW, so........
Lincoln did something brilliant. Next to SLOW, he drew two neat perfect-size dots, one like a period and the other a little above it. Lucky knew it was a colon and it made the sign mean, "You must drive slow. There are children at play" (p. 24).
For readers who are as brilliant and "presidential" as Lincoln, the author adds a page at the end of the book showing which books are mentioned in Lucky's story, how to reach the website for the International Guild of Knot Tyers, and the little prayer Lucky hears at the twelve-step meetings:
God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Now THIS is a real booklover's kind of book! No wonder it won the John Newbery Medal. Rated: 9/10, an excellent book.

Tricia's Response to the Lucky Debate