Half a Chance

Book review by
Joanna H. Kraus, Common Sense Media
Half a Chance Book Poster Image
Gentle story of girl photographer raises ethical issues.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about photography, especially how to tell a story in a picture. They'll learn about the importance of preserving wildlife, particularly loons and how to monitor them, and a little about kayaking. They'll also learn about the impact that Alzheimer's disease can have on a family.


Positive Messages

Pursue what you love to do. Art can be important in your life. Art can reveal the truth.




Positive Role Models & Representations

Lucy wants to find out if her photography is as "special" as she hopes it is, and she's determined to enter a contest with the best pictures she can take. She's persistent in her endeavor and cares about the life of the loons on the lake at her new home. She's able to be a good friend to her new neighbors and to overcome her apprehension to learn a brand-new skill: kayaking.




Violence & Scariness








What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Half a Chance, by Cynthia Lord, the Newbery Honor author of Rules, tells the story of 12-year-old Lucy, whose family has just moved to a cottage on a lake in New Hampshire in the summer. Lucy must establish new friendships and worries about fitting in when she starts a new school in the fall. The story features an elderly neighbor who demonstrates the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease and some ethical dilemmas for Lucy, who's anxious to gain the approval of her nature-photographer father.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 17 years old Written bygthhjjhjhjgdm November 9, 2016


its good for any teen
Kid, 11 years old May 18, 2014


I thought this book was just fine because it had NO action and it was so detailed. Too detailed. It was a class read aloud and my classmates are not into the st... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Lucy and her family move from the Boston area to a small cottage on a New Hampshire lake, she meets her neighbors Nate and Emily, and together they go on Loon Patrol. Nate helps her scout out perfect pictures for the photography contest Lucy wants to enter to see how good her skills really are. But one day she takes a photo that threatens and angers Nate. Plus she's told him a big lie about the contest.

Is it any good?

The leisurely paced HALF A CHANCE explores thorny topics while telling a contemporary story with realistic characters. And it raises some intriguing ethical issues: Is it dishonest to enter a contest for which your father is the judge? Is it right to submit work that may make a private family issue public? Also, to what lengths do you go to win praise from a parent? 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about dementia. How could you help an aging relative or neighbor who's struggling with dementia?

  • Take several photographs and see if you can arrange them so they tell a compelling story.

  • Find out about which wild animals are in your area, why they may be important, what threatens them, and how you can help protect their lives.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

Themes & Topics

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