Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Higher Power Of Lucky by Susan Patron

The Higher Power of Lucky is a small little book with an enormous amount of power. It's the most recent recipient of the Newbery Medal and I read it for the Newbery challenge.

Lucky is a 10-year old girl living in the town of Hard Pan, California, population of 43. Her mother passed away two years ago while admiring the rain and accidentally stepping on a down power line. She is left in the care of her father's previous wife Brigitte, who has flown from Paris to take care of her. Lucky never knew her father as her father never wanted children and had no desire to meet her. Lucky and Brigitte get along well enough, but Lucky is left with the fear that Brigitte will surely leave her one day to go back to Paris leaving Lucky to an orphanage.

Lucky has one of the few jobs available in the small town. She sweeps up cigarette butts and picks up candy wrappers outside of the wind-chime museum where the alcoholics/smokers/overeaters/gamblers anonymous groups meet. While the groups are meeting, she listens from a crack on the outside of the building and here's stories of people reaching "rock bottom" and then finding their "higher power" and redeeming theirselves...finding hope in their lives. Lucky is on a search for her own higher power, her own hope.

Lucky's best friend is Lincoln, a boy who is misunderstood and is seen as a "special" child. Lincoln is a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers and always has a piece of rope or string in his hand and is tying intricate knots. He sees the world through a different filter and offers a fresh perspective. Lincoln's mother wants him to be the perfect son...he's named after a president because she wants him to be president one day.

Miles is another boy that is somewhat annoying, but looks up to Lucky in an almost mother type way. Miles is 5 years old and doesn't know his mother. His favorite book is one of my childhood favorites: Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman. Miles is raised by his grandmother and is always looking for cookies and a story from Lucky.

Patron has crafted a beautiful, heartbreaking, and heartwarming story of coming to terms with the cards that life deals and finding hope in dark situations. There's a message of community in this's so easy for us to fall into the mindset of "I have to do this on my own" when in reality there is help all around us if we only take a second to accept it, for most of the time it's freely offered.

The story is wonderfully illustrated throughout by Matt Phelan who I was unfamiliar with. The drawings go very well with the story and the whole book is very nicely packaged. I highly recommend this book for readers young and old. I certainly enjoyed it.


Kim said...

"'s so easy for us to fall into the mindset of 'I have to do this on my own' when in reality there is help all around us if we only take a second to accept it, for most of the time it freely offered."

That's a great comment. So often we're raised to "be tough" and "succeed" and we overlook opportunities to grow through the help of others.

Sounds like a wonderful book.

Chris said...

I'm certainly guilty of that one, Kim. You're totally right too! A big part of it is "being tough" and proving that we don't need the help and it's ashame that we miss out on so many growing opportunities because of that...or I should say that "I" miss out...don't want to accuse everyone of that ;)

It really was a wonderful book!

Nymeth said...

This sounds like something I would enjoy. And I agree with Kim - very insightful comment.

Stephanie said...

This does sound like a wonderful book. I don't think any of the Newberry books that I have ever read have been disappointing though!

DesLily said...

while watching "the view" today, Barbara Walters showed this very book!.. would you believe it's being Banned in some places because the book had the word "scrotum" in it!!

Darla D said...

I loved this one, too. I was angry when it received so much negative attention because of a few words taken out of context. I guess maybe more people read it because of the publicity, which could be a good thing, but it took some of the fun out it for me, especially when this book was not one of the media-hyped shortlisted books predicted to win, and it quite deservingly did.

Chris said...

Thanks Nymeth. I think that you'd enjoy this one very much!

Stephanie, I'm beginning to feel the same way. I feel safe with the Newbery books. Well...honestly, I wasn't crazy about Crispin, but Despereaux and this book were just amazing and the others I've read over the years have been wonderful.

Deslily, Strange coincidence! I have heard that. In fact, that's how I first heard about this book. Isn't that ridiculous?! For Christ's sake, it's a part of the anatomy, not a dirty word!!

Darla, I feel the same. See my comment to Deslily...I think it's ridiculous. The wonderful thing that the idiots who ban books don't realize is that in banning them, they are, in fact, assuring that they will be read by many, many more people than they would have originally ;)

DesLily said...

the arguement wasn't that it's a dirty word.. it was the "age group" reading it... admittedly, boys age 9-12 would know the word.. girls may not. Parents have a hard time giving them what they need to know as girls let alone boys anatomy! lol.. guess they don't want those that don't know.. asking! LOL

Bookfool said...

I almost snatched this one up at the library, but I was in a hurry. I'll have to go back and seek it out, one day. You write the best reviews.

Chris said...

Deslily, The funny thing is, if the book wasn't banned, it would do the job of educating young people on this topic in a very appropriate way. Of course, Lucky wants to know what a scrotum is too, so she asks and is told by her caretaker. So in theory, parents could have an easy out here by responding to the inevitable question by saying "just keep reading" :p

Bookfool, You'd REALLY love this one. It was such a heartwarming book. It choked me up in a couple of parts though, so be warned of that ahead of time. I'm so glad that I did this Newbery Challenge! I'm quite tempted just to read all of the Newbery books!

Nymeth said...

Chris, Valentina was considering starting a project to read all the Newbery and Carnegie Medal winners, just like what people are doing for the Pulitzer and Booker prize. I guess it's a little crazy to join more of these things, but hey, no time limit, and plus, these books all seem to be really fast reads. I'm really, really tempted.

Chris said...

Nymeth, oh god..did you really have to point me to that :p lol...I'm going to have to sign up if she does it. These Newbery books are just too good! I really would like to read them all. I've found that I really am a huge fan of children's/young adult literature. As a counselor working with children/adolescents, most of the Newbery books tend to be a great resource as well. They really have great "real life" scenarios, morals, and lessons in them.