- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 980L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (August 9, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1416990585
- ISBN-13: 978-1416990581
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lucky for Good Hardcover – August 9, 2011
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About the Author
Susan Patron won the Newbery Medal for The Higher Power of Lucky and is also the author of Lucky Breaks and Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe. She divides her time between Los Angeles, California, and the high desert of the Eastern Sierras. Please visit her at SusanPatron.com.
Erin McGuire’s first picture book was French Ducks in Venice, by Garret Freymann-Weyr. She lives in Dallas, Texas, and you can visit her at EMcGuire.net.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Lucky for Good
The enemies invaded the trailers. Many crept in alone; others arrived in organized platoons. They concealed themselves and built secret tiny nests and lairs. Some of them bit, stung, and pinched; others clogged, soiled, smudged, and polluted.
Lucky’s mom, Brigitte, faced these foes like a general in World War III. She mopped, swept, vacuumed, scoured, scrubbed, washed, polished, and sterilized. She was okay with the work. It was just part of living in the little desert town of Hard Pan, Pop. 43, which Brigitte had adopted as her home when she adopted Lucky as her daughter.
Lucky herself had a live-and-let-live attitude toward Brigitte’s enemies, those mice, ants, flying ants, tarantula hawk wasps, scorpions, beetles, crickets, spiders, flies, and moths, plus sand, dust, dirt, grit, and dog hair. The creatures were all just doing their jobs, trying to eat and not get eaten, make a home, have children, live their urgent tiny lives. Lucky tried to help Brigitte see things from their point of view, but it was no use. Brigitte did not care one bit about the point of view of a bug.
So Lucky was pretty conscientious about keeping the screen door closed and not tracking in dirt. She wiped down the tables on weekends, when Brigitte’s Hard Pan Café was open for lunch, and she bused and washed dirty dishes. But the problem with bugs is that they don’t care if a certain area “belongs” to you, like a shelf in your bedroom or a corner under the sink; all they know is, it seems like a good place to settle down. So Lucky had to be vigilant and keep up her guard, hunting and capturing the larger insects and releasing them outside.
She did her best. But sometimes all that cleaning and enemy-fighting wore Lucky out. It made her wish she were back at her old job at the Found Object Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center, which she’d given up because of having too much else to do. For that job, she just kept the patio clean and raked; she didn’t have to worry about dust or insects.
And then a certain realization bonked Lucky over the head: Nothing stays clean. Sooner or later the thing will have to be cleaned again. The floor, the stove, tables, pots, forks, napkins, feet, paws—the never-endingness of cleaning made a quick little what-if thought spring into her mind. The what-if was like an online pop-up, which you’re forced to look at even if you don’t want to. It wasn’t a wish that she hoped would come true, but still, there it was, blinking at her from the corner of the screen in her mind.
It was this: What if, for some reason, Brigitte’s Hard Pan Café just—poof—disappeared? Well, life would be way different. There would be so much less work! Brigitte could get a regular job. And they would have weekends just for themselves, to do fun things instead of working.
But then Lucky reminded herself of the good parts. Like that Brigitte wasn’t homesick for France, because here in California she had a strict boss—but it was herself. And every day when Lucky got back from school, she was greeted twice: first with a dog-kiss from HMS Beagle, who was waiting at the bus drop-off, and then with a hug and a mom-kiss from Brigitte. Plus, Lucky was proud that Brigitte’s cooking was famous for miles around, and all on their own, they were making the Café a success. Tourists who found them told their friends, and local people from Sierra City and other towns started coming every single weekend. It was a kind of miracle, and Brigitte said it could never have happened without Lucky. So Lucky felt ashamed about what-iffing the Café’s disappearance, even for a second. She put on her yellow rubber gloves and got to work.
But then a new enemy appeared, and started a different kind of battle.
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Top Customer Reviews
Review of all three books in the 'Hard Pan Trilogy'
Lucky Trimble 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.
That is, until some unexpected visitors threaten to shake up Lucky's whole life --- and not necessarily in a good way. First is Justine, the mother of Lucky's young friend, Miles. Justine has been in jail for years, but she's out now and eager to renew her relationship with Miles. She's found religion in prison, and her incessant testifying makes both Lucky and Miles a little uneasy.
And then there's the county health inspector with the unfortunate name of Stu Burping. He has whipped out Regulation 1849 --- no commercial cooking from a residence --- a rule that threatens to shut down Brigitte's restaurant for good. Not only that, but Stu's nephew Ollie is a cocky skater who seems to delight in tormenting Lucky and her friends.
Can the quirky residents of Hard Pan come together to solve Brigitte's bureaucratic dilemmas? Can Lucky come to terms with the surprisingly changing nature of her relationship with her best friend, Lincoln? And how can her Higher Power help her cope with these changes and many others?
Near the end of LUCKY FOR GOOD, Lucky makes a family tree that might seem unconventional, but that makes perfect sense for the life and love she's created and found for herself in Hard Pan: "In Lucky's opinion a family tree should have the family of your blood and the family of your heart and the family of your secret deep-inside self." Lucky's "family" might not look like the one in storybooks, but neither does anyone else's in Hard Pan.
As in her previous two books about Lucky, Susan Patron doesn't shy away from issues of faith and doubt, and LUCKY FOR GOOD is no exception. Lucky's Higher Power is positioned as an alternative to Justine's more traditional form of belief, and her exploration of spiritual matters is a believable aspect of her larger curiosity, inquisitiveness and courage.
LUCKY FOR GOOD is a rambling tale, by design, packed with the kind of stories and anecdotes you can imagine the folksy residents of Hard Pan telling each other over some of Brigitte's delicious French food. These diversions don't distract from the novel's overall narrative, which winds up with Lucky embracing change ("She liked the way life was always changing; she felt a kind of zinging excitement about it") and ready to step bravely into the next chapter of her life.
--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl