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Half a Chance Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Twelve-year old Lucy and her parents have moved from an apartment in Boston to a lakeside cottage in New Hampshire, and her father, a prominent nature photographer, is immediately off to Arizona for a photo shoot. Her apprehension over fitting in at a new school is temporarily allayed when she is welcomed by Nate, whose family is spending the summer with his grandmother in the house next door. Kayaking, hiking, and loon-monitoring with Nate, Lucy chronicles their experiences using her own budding talent for photography. When she learns that his Grandma Lilah's failing health is keeping her from observing her beloved loon family up close, she and Nate devise a plan to rent a motorized raft to take her out on the lake. Their plan, however, involves a deception-Lucy will use Nate's name to enter a photo contest to be judged by her father. Newbery Honor winner Lord (Rules, Scholastic, 2006) has combined vivid, cinematic description with deft characterization and handles several important issues with sensitivity, nuance, and great skill. Lucy grapples with ambivalent feelings toward her self-centered father, rivalry in the face of new friendships, and an ethical dilemma in her decision to enter the contest and to use, against Nate's will, a photo which captures his grandmother's dementia. Readers will be absorbed in the well-paced plot, sympathize with the concerns of a likable protagonist, learn a bit about photography, and consider the impetus of using one's creative talent for good or ill. A deeply enjoyable read.—Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Lucy and her parents have no sooner moved to their new home, idyllically located on a New England lake, than her professional-photographer father is off on a work trip for the summer. As he leaves, Lucy learns from him about a photo contest for kids and decides to spend the summer working on winning it. As the days and weeks pass, Lucy makes friends with the boy next door, learns to kayak, joins in the community’s watch of nesting loons, and stays focused on taking photos that fulfill her father’s advice to make sure the picture implies a story. Lucy seems like a blandly average preteen character, but she comes into focus when she makes a concerted effort to help her elderly neighbor, whose awareness of the world around her is beginning to slip away with the onset of some kind of dementia, to see and enjoy what she loved in the past. Like in the author’s award-winning Rules (2006), the theme of self-discovery is offered here through a quietly disclosed character. Grades 4-6. --Francisca Goldsmith
Top customer reviews
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.
Most recent customer reviews
It looks like a duck
It sounds like a duck
It smells like a terd