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The Higher Power of Lucky

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Believing that her French guardian is about to abandon her to an orphanage in the city ten year old Lucky runs away from her small town with her beloved dog by her side in order to trek across the Mojave Desert in this Newbery Medal–winning novel from Susan PatronLucky age ten can't wait another day The meanness gland in her heart and the crevices full of uestions in her brain make r There is a lot of talk about scrotum in this story Strange and somewhat funny I do like tha

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Unning away from Hard Pan California population 43 the rock bottom only choice she has It's all Brigitte's fault for wanting to go back to France Guardians are supposed to stay put and look after girls in their care Instead Lucky is sure that she'll be abandoned to some orphanage in Los Angeles where her beloved dog HMS Beagle won't be allowed She'll have to lose her friends Miles who Overall I just can't understand why this book won the Newbery unless it was a sad year for

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Lives on cookies and Lincoln future US president maybe and member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers Just as bad she'll have to give up eavesdropping on twelve step anonymous programs where the interesting talk is all about Higher Powers Lucky needs her own and uick But she hadn't planned on a dust storm Or needing to lug the world's heaviest survival kit backpack into the desert My elder daughter and I went to a book reading by Susan Patron this evening which inspired

  • Hardcover
  • 144
  • The Higher Power of Lucky
  • Susan Patron
  • English
  • 08 October 2017
  • 9781416901945

About the Author: Susan Patron

Susan Patron specialized in Children's Services for 35 years at the Los Angeles Public Library before retiring in 2007 the same year her novel The Higher Power of Lucky was awarded the John Newbery Medal As the library's Juvenile Materials Collection Development Manager she trained and mentored children's librarians in 72 branches Patron has served on many book award committees including the



10 thoughts on “The Higher Power of Lucky

  1. says:

    There is a lot of talk about scrotum in this story Strange and somewhat funny I do like that Brigitte is French What can I say? I love the French This story did not draw me in It really didn't land much for me There were some character moments that were good but I didn't feel the story had much direction or a whole lot to say I did appreciate Lucky searching for her higher power That was interestingOtherwise I don't have a whole lot to say on the book It did win the Newberry and I would not have chosen this book for the Medal that's just me It's an ok story but not a great story

  2. says:

    This sleeper book is one of the most innovative honest and compassionate pieces of children's literature that I have read in a long timeThrough the endearing character of Lucky the intelligent insightful resourceful and resilient ten year old girl who became the foster child of her absentee father's French ex wife after the death of her mother we are given a child's eye view of a number of complex social issues in the well named desert community of Hard Pan CA all handled with sensitivity and the gentle unselfconscious honesty that is natural to childrenRead it out loud to your family if you enjoy the sterling ring of emotional truth This book will build the self esteem of anyone who reads it especially children due to it's sheer human heartedness It is only the most deluded and amnesiac adult who believes that children don't know that life is really this complicated When we stop pretending it isn't we make ourselves truly emotionally available to children and allow them to trust us and use us as an honest gauge for measuring their own emotional truth We become real grown ups for them at lastOnce you get to know Lucky you'll never forget herBeautiful Your heart will stand up and cheer This book is uite an achievement and I hope to see much from this author very soonJust a note this would be an excellent book for any child but would be particularly valuable for children whose lives include issues of poverty death of a parent foster care adoption or adults recovering from substance abuse and to help children whose lives don't include these things to understand them in a compassionate way at a level approprriate for children Adults themselves might find it very valuable alsoAs far as controversy over the author's very appropriate use of the word scrotum I believe that American's should be embarrassed that the puritanical neurosis about identifying body parts with accurate scientific language has lived this long in our culture Why should we continue to teach children that their bodies are bad by attempting to euphemize perfectly good body parts out of existence?I know grown women who still talk about the vulva or vagina as down there or 'wee wee for goodness sake I'd rather any child of mine know the real names of body parts and have that pride of ownership that leads to a sense of self care than to shame them about what is perfectly natural by treating it's legitimate name like a dirty wordPeople really need to get their minds out of the gutter and their vocabulary out of the 19th centuryEssentially we end up a nation of people who only know what amounts to slang terms for important body partsNo wonder we are as a nation a people who are obsessed with sex frustrated in our needs can't stand therapeutic touch and can't talk intelligently about our own bodies even as adultsIt is a developmental norm for children to think and talk about their own and others body parts in what we might consider a somewhat grahic way if an adult was speaking They are just beginning to understand who they are emotionally and physically It's mistake to derail that natural process Instead we should support it by giving them a valid and validating vocabulary The writer speaks from a deep understanding of children's needs experiences and psychological development and from an extensive background in Children's Literature This work helps to fill a gaping void It brings the life experiences of a large number of children into the warm sunlight of compassion in Children's LiteratureWhen children find themselves and their real lives in books like this they will be far likely to make books a regular part of their lives

  3. says:

    This book may ring a bell because of the laughable controversy stirred up over the use of the word scrotum in a blink and you'll miss it reference about a snake biting someone's pet dog Ironically the author probably chose the clinical term on purpose to avoid trouble since the significantly rough around the edges character who tells the story would almost certainly phrase it uite differently had he been a flesh and blood figure but what can you do? As silly as this is I feel like I have to get that out of the way however because in reality while the scrotum issue is ridiculous there are a fair share of legitimate problems with this book Newbery Award notwithstanding A little girl who searches as a classmate of mine elouently phrased it for something bigger than herself in the somewhat barren world of Flat Pan seems like plot gold but a good idea executed this ineffectively is still a problem With the exception of Lucky the characterizations lack depth The plot is contrived and liberally glazed with sentimentality And for a plot so blatantly convenient the conveniences could at least be a smidge believable Does it make sense for a person to open a cafe successfully in a town where everyone receives government supplied canned goods because no one can afford groceries? Is it remotely believable for the very savvy well prepared and survival minded Lucky to think for a second that the perfect time to implement a plan to run away is in the middle of a well publicized and dangerous sand storm? Does it make sense for the author to take a heroine who has been enormously likeable and sympathetic through 75% of the book and with just a few strokes turn her into an unrepentant mean tempered brat at the very end? And yet all of this comes to pass There are Newbery Award books I don't like as much as others but usually I can at least spot the appeal This one leaves me in the dark though

  4. says:

    Overall I just can't understand why this book won the Newbery unless it was a sad year for children's lit I just started listening to another Newbery book A Wrinkle in Time and in the introduction the author comments that adults don't understand this book but children get it I feel like this book is the exact opposite; I'm sure some adults felt like it was deep and meaningful and rich but I suspect many children will find it a bit dull and depressing Also I found the book to be a bit of a paradox in that it seemed like an adult message with a childishly simple and often hole filled plot It's certainly not a book I would recommend to my brother or any other kid that was the recommended age It just wasn't that great and it certainly wasn't memorable I've read Newbery's that moved me to tears like Bridge to Terabithia and Walk Two Moons I've read ones that I thought about for weeks afterwards like The Giver I've read ones that just charmed the socks off of me like Caddie Woodlawn This book did none of these for me It will likely be most remembered for the wild publicity and protests that the inclusion of the word scrotum caused Read my full review at

  5. says:

    This book reminded me a lot of the books I used to love as a kid like Harriet the Spy and Ida B It's a strange uirky story in which a precocious girl has her own interesting world and eccentric characters to accompany her but all of this changes when her guardian wants to return to France Lucky fears that she will end up placed in foster care and that there will be an upheaval of everything that matters to her So begins her attempt to fight against it but nothing has prepared her for the circumstances that will arise The Higher Power of Lucky is a sad book about facing the reality of change and growing up but it's also a well written and powerful book about standing up for what you want I liked Lucky as a character and the friends she has really make the story even interesting

  6. says:

    I’m not sure what can be said about this that hasn’t already been said—it’s a good book a very pretty book somewhat atmospheric in its way But there’s not a lot of action It’s another in the Newbery committee’s standards a book with a strong character who has some internal conflict but not a whole lot happens externally In this particular case I think it worked better than say Criss Cross because THPOL really is about being in a town that’s perfectly happy with the status uo The big conflict comes when 10 year old Lucky finds evidence that her guardian Brigitte—who came all the way from France to take care of her—wants to move back to her home country probably without Lucky The conflict is resolved in pretty much the way I’d expected but it was still very sweet and comfortingThat’s the main word I think I’d use for it actually—comforting It’s a story of a girl who lives a uiet life surrounded by people she loves and who loves her Reading this book leaves you with the feeling that you’ve been sitting on the couch with a loved one—it’s not uite a hug but still a very comfortable proximity if that makes any sense It wouldn’t have been my choice for the Newbery I’ve ranted on this in earlier years; I find it very sad that books like Ramona stand no chance at all these days but I can appreciate that they did finally choose a middle grade book instead of the teen friendly novels they’ve been picking

  7. says:

    I've made it a habit to read the Newbery Medal winning books and often I read the runners up as well What I've found is that lately I have been less than impressed with the winning titles This particular winner typifies my dislike for the winning choicesWhat we have in this book is all the didactic ualities that the ALA seems to like mixed in with a parent less youth who happens to be bright enough to overcome her own situation It's the same ualities that we found in KIRA KIRA CRISPIN A SINGLE SHARD BUD NOT BUDDY HOLES and so on What we don't have is a strong story Even the School Library Journal described the book in their review as a character driven novelCharacters can be wonderful and fun and hold a reader's interest but still a novel needs a story Patron's book just doesn't have enough story to keep me interested and I felt that the characters were odd or unusual to drive a novel not because they needed to beThe writing is unusually flat for an award winning book It seems almost a crime to put this book on the same shelf as Konigsberg's or Lowry's or Spinelli'sThis feels like a book that was written to get ALA Newbery interest and not a book written to catch the interest of a young readerMuch has been written about the book's rather casual use and descriptions for the word scrotum Patron and the ALA and past Newbery Honor winners can defend this all the want and I most certainly would defend the author's right to write a book in any way she so chooses However I would also defend the right of readers to shout and howl against this word choicePersonally I would not and won't advocate that my children read this book I know that it will make them uneasy and uite rankly there's just not enough in the book to make it worthwhile to have to read some 'shocking' word choices Is 'scrotum' an appropriate word for young readers? I don't think so Should a book aimed at pre teen readers also have young characters speak clinically about a penis or vagina? No and I don't know why there would be any differenceThat the ALA saw fit to award this book the medal is absolutely shocking and only serves to lessen the honor of the award itself

  8. says:

    I primarily chose to read this book because it has been challenged in school libraries If it hadn't been I might never have found it Thank you censorship flunkies I thought this book was tender and poignant and the characters particularly Lucky were very sympathetic and three dimensional The tale follows Lucky whose father never wanted children and whose mother died when she was young She is now cared for by her father's first wife Brigitte who happens to be French Lucky spends most of the book worrying about her future hoping that Brigitte won't leave for France and feeling vulnerable and insecure I challenge anyone not to care for Lucky and her friends and to hope that things turn out all right This is one Newbery winner that definitely earned the distinction By the way in case you're wondering why it was challenged the whole basis was the author's use of the word scrotum a perfectly legitimate anatomical word used correctly in a non threatening context

  9. says:

    My elder daughter and I went to a book reading by Susan Patron this evening which inspired me to finally write a review of The Higher Power of Lucky This was frankly one of the most inspiring children's books that I've read in years How often is it that authors tackle life death addiction and meanness without tottering over into Monday Night Movie territory? Patron handles these topics with class and style or as her character Brigitte might say panacheLucky is 10 years old and lives in Hard PanCA Pop43 among the champion misfits of the state As she eavesdrops on the various 12 step meetings that occur at the Wind Chime Museum she ponders what her higher power might be Once her guardian the super stylish and French Brigitte looks like she might leave Hard Pan Lucky hits rock bottom and must find that higher power to carry on Strong stuff excellently told My remarkable then five year old and I read this together It gave us a lot to talk about and some things to cry about And yes she asked what a scrotum was

  10. says:

    I really like this book It’s the kind of story I would have read over and over as a preteen Ten year old Lucky lives with her guardian in a vivid little desert town Lucky has been abandoned before and sees her guardian’s homesickness for France as a sign that she will soon be abandoned again To avoid being dumped in an orphanage Lucky decides to run away and live in the desertEvery character in this novel is realistically flawed Lucky has a mean streak and sometimes lashes out at her friends There isn’t much to do in Lucky’s town so her favorite hobby is eavesdropping on twelve step addiction recovery meetings She hears about the worst moments in her neighbors’ lives I like this aspect of the novel because it shows young readers that everybody has problems Everybody makes mistakes You can recover from them if you put in the effortThis book doesn’t have much of a plot but I found the characters interesting enough that I didn’t care I enjoyed watching Lucky mature and correct her mistakes There are some brilliant moments of humor Lucky overhears the word “scrotum” at a twelve step meeting and badly wants to know what a scrotum is which is funny and realistic for a ten year old girl There’s also a scene where Lucky’s guardian finds a snake in the clothes dryer and duct tapes the dryer closed so it can’t get out I think young readers would appreciate the humorI don’t have many complaints As I mentioned this is a character focused book so kids who are used to plot heavy novels may get bored with the lack of action My only wish is that the book had cohesion There’s some talk of rock bottom higher powers and finding the courage to change your life I wish those elements had been a bigger part of the story They could have been used to effectively tie the disparate parts of the book together The plot would have seemed less scattered that way “It made her feel discouraged like if you took the word apart into two sections of dis and couraged It was getting harder and harder to stay couraged” – The Higher Power of LuckyNewbery winners are pretty hit or miss for me I’m happy to report that this one was a hit As a kid I would have found Lucky’s mean streak and desire to run away relatable I would have appreciated the honest way the author depicts the problems of a small town Where was The Higher Power of Lucky when I was a kid?Do you like opinions giveaways and bookish nonsense? I have a blog for that

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