Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books (November 7, 2006)
With this year’s Newbery winner being announced on Monday, I figured I’d better get around to reading last year’s winner and also complete the first book in the Young Adult Challenge hosted at Thoughts of Joy.
The Higher Power of Lucky is set in Hard Pan,
When I first read this book, I thought, “THIS won the Newbery Medal?” I thought it was a good story, but I didn’t think it one of THE BEST young adult books I’d ever read and certainly not as good as Hattie Big Sky, which was named a Newbery Honor Book last year.
But as I kept thinking about the story and the characters, it grew on me. Patron does an exceptional job with characterization in the book. Lucky is extremely smart and creative. She loves to make up stories about the “Olden Days” where her companions, HMS Beagle (her real-life dog who is “not a ship or a beagle”) and
Patron gives us a glimpse into what it feels like to live in constant fear that you’re going to be abandoned and not know where you’re going end up—the fear that is all too real for most foster children. Even little Miles, who lives with his grandmother, doesn’t know where his mother is and carries around a worn copy of “Are You My Mother?” I couldn’t help feeling empathy for him as Lucky refused to read it to him—again.
Even with all of the heart wrenching moments, Patron does a fine job of balancing them with humor and an engaging storyline. The book is not too heavy or depressing and has an uplifting ending.
I was surprised (well not really) to hear all of the hubbub about Patron’s use of the word “scrotum” on the very first page of the book—she’s retelling Short Sammy’s story of his lowest point with his alcoholism where his dog gets bit on the scrotum by a snake. There is nothing sexual or perverse, and in fact, Lucky is not even sure what a scrotum is—another example that she is just a child. My two cents—children have heard much far worse, and it is the proper name of a sexual organ. Patron could have used a number of alternative terms. It is not and should not be a focal point of the book, and the fact that it has been banned is completely ridiculous. But don’t get me started on what I think about censorship…even I am making this is the focal point of my review.
The Higher Power of Lucky is a good book with lovable characters, great and believable dialogue, and both poignant and funny moments. I personally would have picked Hattie Big Sky to win the top honor, but I’m not on the committee, so what can I do?
Correction: My sources were incorrect...The Higher Power of Lucky hasn't been banned although there was a lot of chatter about it being challenged or banned. Even so, I STILL think it's ridiculous that it would even be considered. Thanks to Susan at Wizards Wireless for setting me straight and pointing me to this article.