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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Positive Role Models
Lucky is plucky, spunky and a little mean, but she is still incredibly captivating to watch. Perhaps, not something you'd want your child emulating, but given Lucky's unusual and difficult background, she is understandable and generally likable.
Violence & Scariness
A mother is electrocuted by a downed power line, not described.
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Several discussions of the word "scrotum."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References to smoking, drinking and drunkenness, marijuana.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the main character's mother was electrocuted by a downed power line, and her father has abandoned her. There are several discussions of a dog's scrotum (which led to the banning of this book by some school libraries) and references to smoking, drinking, and marijuana.
Is It Any Good?
This kind of book is catnip to Newbery committees. The lack of plot, the eccentric characters in a small community, the combination of humor and pathos, the sad but plucky protagonist in dire straits, the unhurried and media-free lives the characters lead -- it's all here. And author Susan Patron does a lovely job of it. The secondary characters are fascinating, and Lucky herself is intriguing: She always carries a survival kit, her hero is Charles Darwin, she plans to be a scientist, and she collects bugs in the breath mint containers thrown out by 12-step groups. Even the desert setting becomes a character.
All of it is delicately captured in black-and-white illustrations by Matt Phelan that perfectly match the tone of the text. Those who need plot-driven action probably will find this dull. But kids who loved Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo will probably love this one too.
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.
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Our Editors Recommend
National Book Award for Young People's Literature Winners, Finalists
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