This book created a little controversy when it won the Newbery Medal because it contains the word 'scrotum' in relation to a snake bite on a dog. I'm almost conservative as they come, and I don't see what the big deal is. I really liked this book and found it to be very charming.
Lucky is a girl whose mother has died and who lives with a Frenchwoman. They live in the desert of California in a very small (population 43) community. Also in her life besides her French guardian Brigitte are Miles, a cute little boy whose favorite book is Are You My Mother?, and Lincoln, a boy her age who is obsessed with knot tying.
These relationships and the longings of this little girl form the heart of the novel. I really cared about these characters and found myself rooting for all of them.
Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY, winner of the Newbery Medal, has been causing quite a stir. Why? I honestly don't know why. The story is sensitive, heartwarming, and meaningful.
Lucky's mother met an unfortunate end when she stepped out of their desert trailer home after a storm and touched a downed electrical wire. She was electrocuted and now Lucky lives with her guardian. Brigitte, a friend of her mother and the first wife of Lucky's father, came from France to take care of Lucky. Recent events have Lucky feeling suspicious. She seems to think Brigitte may be getting ready to return to France, leaving her behind in an L.A. orphanage.
There is not much to do in the desert town of Hard Pan -- population 43. Lucky spends quite a bit of her time outside the local meeting place for what she calls the "anonymous" groups. She hears the down-and-out stories of members of Alcoholics Anonymous, Smokers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and more. Lucky hears about how these folks have hit "rock bottom" and then gone on to find their "higher power." Maybe if Lucky can find this higher power, Brigitte will see that it is necessary for her to stay in Hard Pan and take care of her.
Filled with colorful characters, innocent interpretations of the world, and unique surroundings, THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY takes the reader into the world of a brave little girl whose life experiences could challenge even a well-adjusted adult. Through Lucky's eyes readers will come to appreciate the wonders of the desert and the fascinating and quirky behavior of the people who touch her life.
I was reminded of the previously successful BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE by Kate DiCamillo when I read this book. Both deal with girls who are thrust into situations we wouldn't really want to see our own children in, but with courage and determination the girls survive and even thrive as they make their way in the world. Please read Susan Patron's book and judge it for yourself.
There was an uproar when this book was chosen last year, and for good reason: the word "scrotum" appears prominently in this children's story, and in my humble opinion, it is artificially implanted. My argument is that the character who said this word originally would NEVER have used this anatomically correct word; have you ever heard any man, other than a doctor, refer to that part of his body by using that word?
At least now, you are forewarned about this word's presence, before you give this book to your child / grandchild / niece and have to do a lot more explaining than you were planing on.
Oh, and I also object to the false teaching of discovering Lucky's "higher power" is not God, but only herself. But that is almost an aside compared to the lack of honest revelation of character.