A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lucky's "what ifs" definitely will inspire discussions on genealogy, family history, evolution, religion, racism, and life after death as well as sculpture, art, Charles Darwin, physics, and science in general.
The whole community of Hard Pan works together in inventive ways. Though the residents' lives may be judged by some to be less than successful, they show that true family can mean something far wider than biological relationship. Also, in this book, even kids have the right to their own opinions and beliefs.
Positive Role Models
While the characters in this book make up an unusual cast, they are all down-to-earth real and make up a good-hearted community that is more like family. Lucky, herself, is loyal, thoughtful, and inventive, and has the kind of critical thinking skills that make her want to explore the world like a true scientist. She has a strong sense of what is right, explores her feelings, is tolerant of others, and accepts people with all their weaknesses.
Violence & Scariness
In a fight at the school bus stop, Lucky socks an older kid in the jaw for disparaging her adoptive mother. Her friend jumps in to help and sprains his arm. At another point, a young boy and a donkey are nearly run over by a runaway machine, and other kids are scraped and bruised trying to help them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One tender kiss sparks the idea in Lucky's mind that Lincoln may be more than just a best friend.
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One kid engages in a bit of name-calling that borders on racism against immigrants who rob "real Americans" of their jobs, and that is dealt with in the book. Otherwise, using words like "creepo" and "trailer trash" is about the worst of the language.
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Products & Purchases
Only products mentioned are Bud Light, Ziploc bags, and Juicy Fruit gum.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
There is mention of Alcoholics Anonymous group meetings as well as meetings for other recovering addicts (smoking, drugs). Also, one character drinks Bud Light and works in exchange for a six-pack.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book is the third in a trilogy that began with the Newbery Award winner The Higher Power of Lucky. Each book can be read separately, but the whole story would make more sense if read in order. Lucky is a thoughtful character and this book includes discussions of evolution, Darwin vs. the Bible, life after death, heaven and hell, and other issues that make kids worry. Characters struggle with prejudice, addiction, and more, but there is a sweet message about the true meaning of family -- and how it can be about something far wider than biological relationship.
Is It Any Good?
This third book in the series is sometimes uneven and a bit disjointed, but the story is packed with humor, heartwarming episodes, and well-drawn characters. Readers will find it easy to care about spunky Lucky, a girl with a heart as big as the desert sky and a mind full of "what ifs." The characters are eccentric -- Lincoln is a knot-tying expert, and Lucky herself investigates anything she encounters, from owl pellets to the ancient Viking alphabet -- but kids will appreciate the topics she and her friends talk about, and the way they care for one another. Lucky and her crazy community make it a lot of fun to think about important issues, such as the meaning of life -- and family.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.