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Lucky Breaks Paperback – May 4, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Grade 4–6—Lucky is back. In this sequel to The Higher Power of Lucky (S & S, 2006), Milo, Lincoln, Brigitte, Short Sammy, and HMS Beagle are all present and accounted for, hewing to their idiosyncratic ways and weaving in the psychological safety that makes Lucky's world a charmer of a place. The girl settles in with Brigitte, her foster mother, and enjoys her home and friends. She discovers the fun of a best friend who shares her gender as she instantly bonds with a girl accompanying the "ologists" who've come to Brigitte's Hard Pan Café. However, Lucky is not a child who is ever going to proceed calmly and sedately through life. From the minute she meets Paloma, whose parents are overly concerned for her safety in the desert, it is almost inevitable that Lucky will think up an escapade that will bring them into real danger. Unusual metaphors, vivid language, felicitous writing, and the sense of hearing from a realistic, albeit unique child are the strengths that continue in this sequel that is as tightly plotted as the first book.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Two years may have passed since Patron’s The Higher Power of Lucky (2006 )won the Newbery, but Lucky herself has only aged one year since those adventures: now she’s just days away from her eleventh birthday and a planned party that will bring together all 43 residents of the desert community of Hard Pan. Unlike many sequels, not one note feels contrived, and the story’s curious plot, while sometimes meandering, is organic. Primary to Lucky’s concerns this time around are the ongoing Americanization of her French-born adoptive mother, the push and pull of (possibly romantic?) feelings for her buddy Lincoln, and the introduction of Paloma, who just might be Lucky’s first female best friend. Without being heavy-handed, Patron nails the insecurities and overzealousness of a budding friendship, and the central adventure of Lucky getting trapped inside a well brings these feelings to a fine point. Those who famously tried to ban Higher Power will be scandalized to find that the word “scrotum” appears in Lucky Breaks not once, but twice. Grades 3-6. --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Review of all three books in the 'Hard Pan Trilogy'
Lucky lives in Hard Pan, California, in a canned-ham bedroom attached to a trailer. She lives with Brigitte, who is not her mother but her biological father's French ex-wife. Brigitte came to Hard Pan all the way from France because Lucky's father asked her to, after Lucky's mother went out into the desert after a storm and was struck dead by lightening.
So for now Lucky lives with Brigitte, who calls her 'petite puce' which sounds lovely in French, but really means 'little flea' in English. Lucky loves Brigitte, but does not dare hope that she will want to be Lucky's mother for good.
So in between trying not to hope that Brigitte will become Lucky's mother, and avoiding looking at her real dead mother's ashes in an urn, Lucky decides to find her higher power to get her through. It's what everyone talks about at the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting held at Hard Pan's Found Object Wind Chime Museum. Higher power. Short Sammy talks about it a lot, when he recounts the story of the day his beloved dog got bit by a snake and his wife left him, and how he ended up finding his higher power that got him through the worst time in his life.
'The Higher Power of Lucky' was Susan Patron's 2007 Newberry award-winning middle-grade book. In 2010 Patron went on to continue Lucky's story with 'Lucky Breaks', and ending with 'Lucky For Good' in 2011, when Lucky is twelve-years-old, rounding the books out to the 'Hard Pan Trilogy'.
Susan Patron's series is a complete delight; for both its charismatically flawed heroine and her delightfully quirky hometown of Hard Pan. The first book, 'Higher Power of Lucky' begins when Lucky is ten-years-old, and her mother has just recently passed away, 'replacing' her with her father's ex-wife, the French Brigitte. We are introduced to this very unconventional family unit, which encompasses the wider town of Hard Pan, populated with quirky characters. There's Lucky's best friend, Lincoln, a knot-tying protégé with hopes of becoming the future President of the United States. Litle boy Miles who has a perfectly-timed cookie-retrieval system for visiting all the Hard Pan residents. There's also Short Sammy who lives in a water tank, and mourns the loss of his best dog friend not to mention an archeological team who breeze through Hard Pan to stop at Brigitte's renowned French-bistro café.
The books are all about Lucky; a glorious ragamuffin of a girl who is navigating the changing landscape of her life after losing her mother. The books begin when she is ten and follow her to age twelve, but Patron's brilliance lies in not restricting Lucky to her young age - she has moments, particularly in 'Lucky Breaks' and especially 'Lucky For Good' when she's starting to notice the opposite sex, beginning to appreciate (and resent) the flaws in her character and truly come to realize the impacting world beyond Hard Pan. 'Lucky For Good' is a particularly interesting book for Lucky's evolution, because she starts to think on the feelings of resentment and anger she has towards her absent father - who abandoned Lucky and her mother shortly after she was conceived. Patron doesn't inundate the books with all of these life-changing, big marker moments - and it's partly thanks to the third-person narration that as readers we can see Lucky's forming character, but don't get bogged down in the life-changing momentousness of it all. Patron is such a masterful storyteller, particularly in her middle-grade revelations, that she gives the readers just enough incite to have that spark of recognition regarding big changes within Lucky. And some of Patron's emotive descriptions and similes are just so pitch-perfect and brilliant;
Lucky had the same jolting feeling as when you're in a big hurry to pee and you pull down your pants fast and back up to the toilet without looking - but some man or boy before you has forgotten to put the seat down. So your bottom, which is expecting the usual nicely shaped plastic toilet seat, instead lands shocked on the thin rim of the toilet bowl, which is quite a lot colder and lower. Your bottom gets a panic of bad surprise. That was the same thump-on-the-heart shock Lucky got finding out that Miles's mother was in jail.
-- 'The Higher Power of Lucky'
These books are very much focused on family, but not the conventional, nuclear one of other middle-grade books. Patron, in her 'Lucky' series really embraces the notion that it takes a village to raise a child, and lacking blood-ties doesn't mean lacking in love. Lucky's interactions with her stepmother, Brigitte, are heartfelt and lovely.
I really enjoyed reading Susan Patron's Newberry-winning series, focused on Hard Pan native, little girl Lucky and the cast of quirky characters in her desert hometown.
Lucky is very taken with the age of 11 and goes into a big explanation of what 11 means. The entrance to teen years, how the numbers look together. This is your first introduction that Lucky has a very vivid imagination and a very high command of the English language.
She is very humorous and I love the term she uses frequently when she gets worried her "anxiety gland" gets turned on.
As a Vine reviewer I got the advance reader copy that has no illustrations so I cannot comment on them. If the cover is any indication they should be great. I'd love to see them. The writing is so vivid though my mind has all the pictures in detail.
Lucky gets involved in a local legend about a dove broach and murder. The woman murdered is named Paloma. You can guess what goes through Lucky's mind when she meets a girl named Paloma. She is determined to get her involved. Part of the broach was told to be in an abandoned well. I'll not spoil it for you what happens but if you know Lucky you can probably guess her "curiosity gland" kicks in.
The story teaches the value of family and friendships and that love reaches out and one heart can hold a lot of love. Lucky so needed this after losing her mother when she was only 8 years old.
I think any 8-10 yr old girl (maybe some boys too) would like the book.
The writing was crisp, the characters were interesting, and the story was engaging, though not addicting.
For example, once we got to the point where we had only about 15-20 pp left I had to ask my daughter (an avid reader in her own right) on several different occasions if she wanted to finish the book before we actually sat down and finished it.
I must admit that for myself (her 40+ yr old dad) the story left me short when it came to resolutions. I was hoping for a big more of a bang at the ending, but it may well be that the author is leaving some of her better ideas to a sequel. Or, this may be only an installation in what may eventually be a series about the main character, Lucky.
All in all, I'm glad I got this book, I'm glad I read it, but, honestly, if I were not reading it to my daughter I doubt that I would have finished it.
For those reasons I give this book a strong 3 stars, but it's not quite up to the what I'd normally assign 4 stars.