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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Summer Reading for Creative Kids
Cynthia Lord was awarded a Newbery Honor for her 2008 title Rules. I haven't read Rules, but having seen what she can do with Half a Chance, it's easy to see why Lord was given such a prestigious distinction. Indeed, Half a Chance is a gem of a book. Its lake setting becomes a character unto itself. And Lucy recognizes how the lake can feel different depending on one's...
Published 9 months ago by DawnTeresa

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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Her Best Book
I have read several books by Cynthia Lord including Rules and Touch Blue. I enjoyed her vivid writing style and how she is able to capture the simplest of things in a new way. Therefore, I was really excited about reading Half A Chance. Unfortunately, I disliked the novel! The main character Lucy, though fun to follow along with at the beginning, ultimately does not...
Published 6 months ago by Lucy


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Summer Reading for Creative Kids, May 21, 2014
This review is from: Half a Chance (Kindle Edition)
Cynthia Lord was awarded a Newbery Honor for her 2008 title Rules. I haven't read Rules, but having seen what she can do with Half a Chance, it's easy to see why Lord was given such a prestigious distinction. Indeed, Half a Chance is a gem of a book. Its lake setting becomes a character unto itself. And Lucy recognizes how the lake can feel different depending on one's mood: "On a gray, calm day the lake becomes a mirror, reflecting other things... It matched how I felt. Upside down and not really myself."

Lord's gift for simultaneously capturing the voice of young Lucy while imparting her with wisdom is uncanny. Lucy is endearingly normal and, like any girl, has insecurities. I love this line which perfectly communicates the discomfort a shy girl feels trying to fit in with new people: "It's horrible and itchy to stand in someone else's living room when you don't know everyone, but they all know each other." Lucy has moved around a lot, so she's searching for approval from her peers. But she also craves love and respect from her famous photographer father. She struggles to deal with his frequent travels and the difficulty of trying to talk to him while he's on location: "How could I want to talk to him so much and then feel worse when I finally did?"

Half a Chance uses photography to frame Lucy's summer adventures and demonstrate her creativity. Readers will likely want to try their own hand at taking pictures! Lucy and her new friend Nate have some genuinely thoughtful and moving conversations, sharing their wish to hold on to the happy moments even, or especially, when life is topsy-turvy: "It's too bad you can't make everything exactly the way you want and then freeze it to stay that way."

Lucy eventually learns how to experience life rather than trying to capture it all on film. And she learns many valuable things about herself and others. Lord expertly weaves in themes like friendship, honesty, trust, jealousy and insecurity, aging and loss, and forgiveness. The tenuous nature of life is examined from several different angles. Kids will learn about life and loons. And with the book's focus on nature and wildlife conservation, they will likely develop a greater awareness and appreciation for all forms of life.

Quotables are many and memorable, as are the takeaways to be gleaned from them:

Discernment: "When two things matter, how do you know which one matters more?"

Gratitude: "Good things matter, even when they don't last forever."

Integrity: "You can't do the wrong thing, even for the right reasons."

Perseverance: "Sometimes people are like shooting photos. It takes a bunch of misses before something good happens."

Hope: "Sometimes you don't get an answer, though. Sometimes 'I hope so' is the only answer you get."

Verdict: 4.5 stars of 5. Heartily Recommended! Half a Chance would make a quality summer read for an introspective, creative type. There is enough thought and nuance that parents might enjoy reading along and discussing the philosophical moments with their child. With its slower-moving plot, Half a Chance is not for reluctant readers, but kids who appreciate stories like Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks or Deborah Wiles' Each Little Bird That Sings will feel at home on the lake with Lucy of the Loons, and they'll be richly rewarded for their time and effort!

*A review copy was provided to me by the publisher, Scholastic Press*
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome was what I expected, Awesome was what I got., February 26, 2014
By 
This review is from: Half a Chance (Hardcover)
Lucy's dad is a famous photographer who has trouble staying in one place. He's often off on an assignment for weeks or months at a time. This summer, the family has moved to a cottage on a New Hampshire lake, just before Dad heads off for a two month photo shoot in Arizona. Lucy wishes he'd be around more, but wishes even more that he would pay attention to her. When Dad mentions that he will be judging a photo contest for kids when he returns, she decides that entering under another name will finally get her an honest Dad opinion about her own skill with a camera.
After she meets Nate and his sister who are spending the summer along with their family at the camp next door, Lucy shares her desire to win the contest with Nate. As they start getting to know each other, Lucy becomes involved in the annual Loon Patrol, a daily check on the pair of loons nesting on a small island in the lake. Nate's grandmother, Lilah, has been involved in the Loon Patrol for years, but her knees and impending dementia, make it impossible for her to do the things she's done every summer, most of them with Nate and his sister Emily. Watching loons, playing with her grandchildren and climbing nearby mountains have kept her life meaningful, but now she's becoming more forgetful and frightened. The contest consists of a list of words and phrases like Your Name, Skip, Collection, Sticky, Left Behind, Wonder, Hope, etc. Contestants are challenged to take a photograph that best conveys a visual meaning of each word or phrase.
As Lucy's summer progresses, she learns how to deal with other people, particularly Megan who has been Nate's summer friend for years and resents her intrusion. She also learns to negotiate being friends with a boy, confront her fears about not being good enough as a photographer and how she feels about the loons and their two baby chicks, not to mention understanding Lilah's illness and how it affects Nate.
Cynthia Lord packs an amazing amount into this book. Tween and teen readers as well as caring parents and teachers will find themselves carried along as Lucy learns to trust herself, understand how to take into consideration the things others in her life really care about, how sometimes life and nature aren't fair and how sometimes the best decisions are the most difficult to make. This is a wonderful book and should find plenty of eager readers in both public and school libraries.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner by Lord, February 25, 2014
This review is from: Half a Chance (Hardcover)
Somewhere in my foty-year-old self there is still that sixth grade girl I used to be - the one who loves reading realistic fiction novels with characters I could relate to.

Half a Chance is Cynthia Lord's latest book geared toward middle grade readers. Lucy and her parents move to a home in a small tourist town in New Hampshire. Lucy is worried about making friends and fitting in, and is happy to have a neighbor, Nate, who she becomes friends with quickly.

The two spend much of the summer working on taking pictures for a photography contest Lucy is entering. Her father is a famous photographer and Lucy tries hard to measure up to her father's high standards. However, her father is the judge of the photography contest, and entering the pictures in her own name won't work.

Lucy enjoys hanging out with Nate and learning more about the loons from his grandmother. Yet, the two are at odds over a photograph Lucy took of Nate's grandmother, Lilah, who is suffering from dementia. It is easy to see from the picture that Lilah is confused, something that Nate and his parents are trying to coming to terms with.

Lord's latest novel is another excellent realistic fiction novel. She is able to capture the thoughts and feelings of those tween years and create real and interesting characters and stories.

My oldest daughters (ages 10 and 12) are both clamoring to read this book, which I was excited to pass on to them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars her best photo comes by accident when she captures Nate’s grandmother, July 31, 2014
This review is from: Half a Chance (Hardcover)
Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

Summary: (218 pages). Lucy’s family has just moved to a New Hampshire lake, the third move in her life. Her father, a renowned photographer, likes a regular change of scenery. In fact, he’s about to go off on a long trip to Arizona to try to quench his thirst for new places. When Lucy learns he’s been asked to judge a photography contest for kids, she decides to try and win in an effort to get him to take her own work seriously. Teaming up with her new neighbor, Nate, she explores her new home through the lens of her camera, seeking photos to fit each of the 26 categories in the contest. Unexpectedly, her best photo comes by accident when she captures Nate’s grandmother, who is in the early stages of dementia, in a moment of panic over her own forgetfulness. Lucy and Nate decide to submit the photos under his name, but Lucy has a difficult choice when Nate doesn’t want to see what is in her best photo.

Pros: Here is a book to unconditionally recommend to fourth and fifth graders, and even good third grade readers. The characters and setting are realistic; the kids are kids; the dilemmas are difficult but kid-friendly; and the writing is beautiful but accessible.

Cons: I might have liked this a tiny bit less than Rules. You will just have to read them both (and Lord’s other novel, Touch Blue), to choose your own favorite.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book for all ages, March 15, 2014
By 
Bill Baker (OGUNQUIT, ME, US) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Half a Chance (Kindle Edition)
How do we see? How do we frame our experiences? How do we
begin to know others, those our age and those younger and older?

You're a 12 year old girl; you have moved so many times and now you've moved to the shores of a New Hampshire lake. Your dad is away a lot shooting pictures for magazines - but he has given you a camera, and with that, you plan to see this new world, as he might, through the camera lens, and also enter a photo contest he is judging.

Each chapter in this book is a subject in this photo contest - subjects such as hope, or far away - and as Lucy takes pictures that might fit these subjects she begins to see how she sees, how she frames her experiences, how she is beginning to know others.

This is a fascinating book - one for all ages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chances Are Good, March 2, 2014
This review is from: Half a Chance (Hardcover)
Lucy is a young photographer. So is her father. When she learns that her dad will be judging a national photo scavenger hunt in which kids submit pictures inspired by a specific list of words and phrases, Lucy decides to enter. They've just moved to an old house in a new town. After her father leaves town for a work trip, and while her mom, a computer programmer, works from home, Lucy spends the summer exploring New Hampshire and snapping pictures of the land, the animals (including her dog Ansel), and her neighbors. Next door is Nate, his older sister, Emily, his parents, his aunt, his cousins, and his grandma. They introduce Lucy to the loons that live on the lake. Grandma Lilah can't go out on the lake anymore, so she makes sure the kids report on all things loon-related whenever there's a sighting. The kids do their best to protect the birds from a distance, respecting their space and protecting their land.

When you share an interest with someone else in your family, you might find it comforting - or competitive. Lucy wants to be a photographer in her own right and make her dad proud. By entering the contest under another name, she hopes her portfolio will impress her father, that he will appreciate it not because they are related, but because she has a good eye and good instincts. Lucy loves taking photos, but she's not sure if she's any good. Like many of us, she's her own worst critic. She tries her hardest to take interesting, unique pictures that fit the contest's requirements, but often, the candid moments she captures are better than the shots she carefully planned out. When she brings Nate and Grandma Lilah into the picture, things change, for better and for worse, and she's not sure what to do.

Half a Chance, Cynthia Lord's third novel for kids, encourages readers to see things from other people's perspectives, to appreciate and protect the environment (especially/specifically local birds), and to find the courage to reach out and speak up. It will likely also inspire kids to grab a camera and take a bunch of pictures of the world around them. If you loved this book but don't consider yourself a photographer or an environmentalist, consider volunteering at a local elderly home or senior center.

If you liked Half a Chance, also check out Cynthia Lord's other novels, RULES and TOUCH BLUE.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book!, July 2, 2014
By 
LP Salas (Minneapolis, MN) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Half a Chance (Hardcover)
Beautiful book. So much heart. It's one of those books that celebrates life and friendship but looks unflinchingly at the hard parts of life, too.

And I love that so much of what Lucy thinks/learns about photography applies to so many other arts--and just life in general.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Schoolbook, August 2, 2014
By 
Awesomegirl (Burr Ridge, Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Half a Chance (Kindle Edition)
I had to read it for school but I liked it also it's a really good book and kept me at the edge of my seat
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5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the interactions between young people and caring for the ..., September 4, 2014
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This review is from: Half a Chance (Hardcover)
A bit elementary at first, but the author was setting the tone of the story. I enjoyed the interactions between young people and caring for the needs of Grandma. The part of Grandma getting signs of dementia were very helpful and revealing. These issues can help young people understand how t deal with illness. Solving the problem for Grandma to see the loons was very unselfish and rewarding. Excellent book for church libraries and not preachy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another beautiful winner from Cynthia Lord, June 28, 2014
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This review is from: Half a Chance (Kindle Edition)
I've (unfortunately) now read all of Cynthia's books published so far, and this was probably my favorite, although they've all been wonderful. I read to my sons (and wife) at bedtime, and we've been smitten with Cynthia Lord's books this year.

The characters in this story in particular were so honest and real in their development, feelings, actions and words. And the story comes to a wonderful climax which literally brought water to my eyes.

Cynthia's love of nature, particularly that of her New England home, shines through in all her stories, and this one is no exception.
Most of all, so does her love of people.
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Half a Chance
Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord (Hardcover - February 25, 2014)
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