Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Higher Power of Lucky

I finished The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron two nights ago. It's this year's winner of the Newbery Medal. I'm trying to read the medalists in chronological order and am still stuck on the first one, The Story of Mankind, which is just deadly. Reading Lucky was a relief.

Lucky's world is a challenging one, She lives in a poor community in the desert. Her mother has died and she does not know her father. She is being parented by a guardian (who happens to be her father's first wife). Lucky is intelligent, resourceful and brave, but very human, with plenty of shortcomings, including her "meanness gland." I've read some cranky reader (and obviously non-reader) reviews of this book. Some folks felt that it was not worthy of the medal, that the subject matter was inappropriate or too worldly, but I think it's just right. Kids are growing up in a world that imposes adulthood on them far too soon. Lucky's world is a shaky one. I think kids reading this book might feel relieved to encounter characters who, like themselves, grapple with non-nuclear family scenarios, death and dying, poverty and an uncertain future.

The American Library Association states that the purpose of the Newbery Medal is to " encourage original creative work in the field of books for children. To emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels. To give those librarians, who make it their life work to serve children's reading interests, an opportunity to encourage good writing in this field." I think the originality of the setting, characters and their circumstances within The Higher Power of Lucky more than qualify it to receive the medal.

1 comment:

Laura said...

wow, I liked your review especially about how the book thinks about all the things kids today might have in their life. Adults sometimes forget that kids are thinking and feeling the things that happen in their lives. thank you for sharing the link!