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The Higher Power of Lucky

by Susan Patron

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-When Lucky's mother is electrocuted and dies after a storm, Lucky's absentee father calls his ex-wife, Brigitte, to fly over from France to take care of the child. Two years later, the 10-year-old worries that Brigitte is tired of being her guardian and of their life in Hard Pan (pop. 42) in the middle of the California desert. While Lucky's best friend ties intricate knots and the little boy down the road cries for attention, she tries to get some control over her life by restocking her survival kit backpack and searching for her "Higher Power." This character-driven novel has an unusually complicated backstory, and a fair amount of exposition. Yet, its quirky cast and local color help to balance this fact, and the desert setting is fascinating. Lucky's tendency to jump to conclusions is frustrating, but her struggle to come to terms with her mother's death and with her new life ring true. Phelan's cover and line drawings are simple and evocative, a perfect complement to the text. Fans of novels by Deborah Wiles and Katherine Hannigan will be happy to meet Lucky.-Adrienne Furness, Webster Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Patron's poignant Newbery-winning story about a girl who fears being abandoned by her legal guardian-and her only semblance of a family-sails along with believable childlike rhythms and kid's-eye-view observations. Listeners will especially appreciate Campbell's subtlety and smooth, comforting delivery in a heartbreaking scene in which 10-year-old Lucky recalls, with gentle support from her best friend, her deceased mother's memorial service. On the remainder of the recording, Campbell remains a welcoming guide to Lucky's world-populated by eccentric friends, the quirky townspeople of tiny, struggling Hard Pan, Calif.-and Brigitte, the guardian she desperately wants to keep, maybe with some help from a Higher Power. Campbell appropriately gives recent Parisian transplant Brigitte a French accent, though it's thankfully never overplayed. By program's end, listeners will be rooting for Lucky and Brigitte to remain together forever. Contains an interview with the author, in which Patron says she is working on a companion novel. Ages 9-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Ten-year-old Lucky lives in Hard Pan, California, a tiny enclave on the outskirts of the Mojave Desert. Her legal guardian is a beautiful, melancholy Frenchwoman, Brigitte. Patron's episodic tale of a grieving, insecure little girl is never heavy-handed or maudlin, due in part to quiet bursts of humor. Her sensory descriptions, supported by Phelan's gentle spot art, animate this unique community. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Lucky, age 10, lives in tiny Hard Pan, California (population 43), with her dog and the young French woman who is her guardian. With a personality that may remind some readers of Ramona Quimby, Lucky, who is totally contemporary, teeters between bravado--gathering insect specimens, scaring away snakes from the laundry--and fear that her guardian will leave her to return to France. Looking for solace, Lucky eavesdrops on the various 12-step meetings held in Hard Pan (of which there are plenty), hoping to suss out a higher power that will see her through her difficulties. Her best friend, Lincoln, is a taciturn boy with a fixation for tying knots; another acquaintance, Miles, seems a tiresome pest until Lucky discovers a secret about his mother. Patron's plotting is as tight as her characters are endearing. Lucky is a true heroine, especially because she's not perfect: she does some cowardly things, but she takes pains to put them to rights. --Francisca Goldsmith Copyright 2006 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-Ten-year-old Lucky is sure that if she finds her Higher Power she will gain special insight into her life, just like the people she eavesdrops on at the Anonymous meetings. Lucky knows about the uncertainty of life because she lost her mother in a sudden accident two years ago and her guardian, Brigitte, is homesick for France. Hard Pan, California, population 43, is a unique and sometimes harsh place, but Lucky loves life at the edge of the desert with people that she knows and loves. The youngster wants to be a scientist and has so many questions in the crevices of her brain. Her motto is to stay alert and to carry a survival kit at all times because things happen when you least expect them. When she thinks that Brigitte plans to leave, Lucky knows she has hit rock bottom and must run away, although things don't turn out the way she plans. Narrator Cassandra Campbell brings Susan Patron's Newbery Award-winning novel (Atheneum, 2006) to life, giving each character a slightly different, expressive voice. Brigitte's soft French accent and Lucky's earnest longing and unique view of life are especially captivating. The novel addresses difficult topics such as death, absent parents, and addiction with realism, humor, and wonder, making the overall message one of hope and love.-Teresa Wittmann, Westgate Elementary School, Edmonds, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus The facts of Lucky's life in Hard Pan, Calif. (population 43), scarcely qualify her as "lucky." One parent is dead and the other disinterested. Her future with her unemployed French guardian Brigitte, who was tricked into caring for her, feels uncertain. When Lucky discovers that Brigitte is taking an online course in restaurant management from Paris, she anticipates being abandoned. To find her higher power and take control of her life, Lucky runs away in a dust storm, hoping to cause worry, sadness and a change of Brigitte's heart. Potential disaster leads to Lucky's discovery that Brigitte loves her, which helps her come to terms with her mother's death. The plot is not what elevates Lucky's memorable story. Hard Pan may be lightly populated, but every soul is uniquely unforgettable, from 5-year-old Miles, shameless cookie hustler, to Lincoln, serious knot-tying addict. Readers will gladly give themselves over to Patron, a master of light but sure characterization and closely observed detail. A small gem. (Fiction. 9-11) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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