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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book is tame. While Lucky's mother died several years ago and she has since been abandoned by her father to his ex-wife (Brigitte), Lucky is taken care of and loved by Brigitte and a full coterie of adults in town. One issue, however, is that throughout the story Lucky wonders why her father doesn't take care of her and why he gave her up, and this is never resolved. Parents also need to know that Charles Darwin is Lucky's hero. They should be aware that this book might be better for girls than boys, and that it starts slow before building to a story with any action.
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What's the Story?
Lucky is almost eleven and ready for life to change. Life in Hard Pan (population 43) is the same as ever. Lincoln, her best friend, is still tying knots, though now he plans to enter a contest which, if he wins, will take him to Europe for school. Lucky doesn't like the idea that she might be left alone in Hard Pan without Lincoln. Miles, their 6 year-old genius sidekick, tells Lucky and Lincoln a story about a brooch lost in Hard Pan's abandoned well years ago. But once Paloma comes to town, Lucky is smitten with the idea of a new best friend -- a girl -- someone with whom she can laugh and dream. In trying to impress Paloma, Lucky neglects and even hurts her old friends. But once Lucky gets herself into a frightening situation involving the abandoned well, she begins to see just how important and special her old friends truly are.
Is It Any Good?
This story, like the small town depicted, is not filled with splash or action, and it unfolds with quiet intrigue. The first half of the book is fairly slow, and some kids may have a hard time committing to finishing the book. But dedicated readers will enjoy the eclectic characters going about their daily life -- running a cafe, tying knots, living in an old water tank, receiving deliveries from trucks -- and eventually will be rewarded with action that proceeds swiftly. Once Lucky and Paloma go on their adventure the story moves more quickly and unfolds with satisfaction.
There are some good messages embedded in this story, such as paying attention to the things you care about, how it's worse to be hurtful than to get hurt, and that being afraid of responsibility can be harmful. As a character, Lucky feels both immature and too mature at the same time, as she makes selfish decisions but also seems to have an ability to self-reflect and apologize. Overall, this story is best for committed readers who don't mind a small-town pace, and for those who are willing to get to know an eclectic cast of likable characters.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the concept of family. What makes a family? How is Lucky's family different than yours? They can also talk about friendship. How do you make friends? Do you have a best friend? Do you think everyone needs one best friend? What is a good friend? Can you make new friends while keeping old friends? They could also talk about life in small towns. Is Lucky's town of Hard Pan like your town at all? What brings people to and keeps them in small towns?
- Author: Susan Patron
- Illustrator: Matt Phelan
- Genre: Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Ginee Seo Books
- Publication date: March 10, 2009
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 192
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Our Editors Recommend
The Higher Power of Lucky
Newbery winner is delicate, humorous, poignant.
Because of Winn-Dixie
Stray dog helps lonely girl find friends in lovely tale.
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