Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lucky Breaks review

Lucky Breaks
by Susan Patron, illustrated by Matt Phelan
Ginee Seo Books

In this wonderful sequel to The Higher Power of Lucky, we return to the dusty micro-town of Hard Pan, California. Lucky's meandering thoughts and careful appreciation of little details is explored in a quirky and whimsical fashion.  She sees eleven as being intrepid and cherishes the "secret 11" in the straps of her new training bra. At eleven years of age, she is clearly looking forward to growing up, wearing make-up and other such things that are just ahead of her... yet she is still happy to not-quite be there yet. Lucky reminded me of Fern from Charlotte's Web in many ways.

Lucky has settled into a much more comfortable relationship with her adoptive mother Brigitte, who has started a new business, a small cafe. Geologists are up to study the rocks in Hard Pan, which affords Lucky the rare opportunity to make friends with a visiting girl her own age, Paloma.  Again, Lucky stirs up trouble with her misunderstandings

Patron defiantly returns to the matter of Roy's dog, who's scrotum so famously caused a flurry of censorship after the Newbery win of The Higher Power of Lucky. To be honest, in the first book, the incident is so seamlessly part of the story, I didn't even notice the "offending" word on my first read-through. The thing that I found most interesting about the whole controversy surrounding the first book, were the justifications that I heard about the word, including everything from "It's not like she was talking about a person!" to, "But, it's the actual medical term!"  The inclusion in the second book felt a bit forced to me, but not at all objectionable.

Birgitte's speech to Paloma's overprotective mother about how the world is full of danger, but full of adventure and wonderful things too, to let children experience things and try being brave is a rallying call against helicopter parenting.

Lucky's reverence for science, including her hero worship of Charles Darwin and, in general, her unique way of looking at the world will continue to charm those who enjoyed the finely-wrought world introduced in The Higher Power of Lucky. I am eagerly awaiting the final book in the trilogy.

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