The Higher Power of Lucky - Susan Patron

When he was about seven, Lincolns brain had begun squeezing out a powerful knot-tying secretion that went through his capillaries and made his hands want to tie knots.

I came across this book in two separate ways, and I can't remember which came first. Once, I'd seen the book while browsing the kids' books at Waldenbooks and wrote it down after flipping through it. The other was when this book won the Newbery Medal for 2006 and there was some sort of uproar because some librarians wanted to ban it because of the word "scrotum" on the first page. I remember hearing about this controversy but I don't think I connected it to the book that I'd seen in the store. Anyway, I checked it out from the library to read as a bedtime story for Robyn, and there on the first page is a guy talking about a rattlesnake biting his dog on the scrotum.

Well, if you want to judge a book by a single word, then I suppose there's a lot of good stuff in life you're going to miss. For the rest of you: this is a thoughtfully written book about a ten-year-old girl searching for her "Higher Power" to help her make sense of her life.

Lucky Trimble lies in Hard Pan, California, population 43. After her mother died, she was placed in the care of Brigitte, her father's former wife from France, who seemed entirely out of place in this little desert town. Lucky fancies herself an explorer and scientist, and carries around a heavy survival kit backpack that contains things like specimen jars (for keeping bugs) and not much food. But while listening in on the various 12-step meetings and hearing people talking about finding their Higher Powers, she decides she needs one for herself.

There's a small cast, each with their own quirks and charms. Her best friend is named Lincoln because his mom wants him to be president someday, but he just loves tying knots. Little Miles wanders around Hard Pan asking for cookies at each house. Lucky's dog, HMS Beagle, isn't actually a beagle but was named after the ship Darwin sailed on.

The story touches on a few difficult subjects, the biggest of which is losing parents to death or prison or even indifference. Patron does an excellent job writing about the way Lucky thinks about things: "Lucky had a little place in her heart where there was a meanness gland... Sometimes, with that meanness gland working, Lucky liked being mean to Miles."

I think it's a good book for young readers, but I'd recommend a little guidance and discussion to go along with it as well.

Fed to jonathan's brain | March 15, 2008 | Comments (0)


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