Monday, June 28, 2010

Middle Grade Monday: The Higher Power of Lucky

Author: Susan Patron
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Pages: 134
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12 years old
Source: Purchased/Own
Newbery Medal: 2007

Description of book as taken from GoodReads:

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.

Recently, I have been catching up on reading Middle Grade Fiction from my TBR pile. Susan Patron's The Higher Power of Lucky had been highly recommended and I knew if I could just sit down with it I would probably love it. There is something about Middle Grade stories that can be amazing and Patron's book has it all. Characters that come alive, a setting that feels like you can step right into it, and a sense of hope that reaches in and touches you in deep places. Long after putting it down, you'll find yourself thinking about Lucky and her life in Hard Pan, a teeny-tiny town out in the California desert.

Lucky lost her mother at age 8 due to an accident. Consequently, Lucky lugs around a survival bag just in case. After the death of her mother, Lucky's father arranges for his first wife to move from France to be Lucky's guardian. Brigitte misses France and Lucky is afraid that one day Brigitte will return to France and she will be forced to go to an orphanage. Inspired by the stories that Lucky hears while eavesdropping on various 12 Step Programs, she decides that if she can find her "higher power" she will know what to do. When Lucky believes that she has hit "rock bottom", she decides to runaway from home. The journey teaches her what family really is and helps her to finally deal with the loss of her mother.

As I reading The Higher Power of Lucky, I just knew I wanted to share it with my students. I want to do more than just recommend this book. Though I know both boys and girls will enjoy reading Lucky's story, I am almost afraid that some of my reluctant readers won't give it a chance. I want to make sure that students meet Lucky because I know if I can just get them to meet her they will love her as much as I do. Hence, this will be a story I use either for a book club or a classroom read aloud.

I encourage you to pick up The Higher Power of Lucky. It will make you laugh, and cry and believe just a little more.

Happy Summer Reading,
- Aly