Ever since her mother died, Lucky has been searching for her Higher Power. She listens in on all the anonymous meetings in Hard Pan, California, analyzing the stories of how people hit ‘rock bottom’ before they found their own Higher Power. With a best friend obsessed with knot tying, a five-year-old neighbor demanding cookies, and a guardian who wants to return home to France, Lucky is sure she needs extra help.
When that help doesn’t come, Lucky decides to take matters into her own hands and run away. Ironically, in leaving Hard Pan, Lucky learns it is where she really belongs. On one level, The Higher Power of Lucky is a lighthearted story of a town filled with quirky and loveable characters. However, it is also a beautifully written story of finding our place in a world that is harsh, but also beautiful. It is a good story for young readers, with a deeper message for older readers.
Recommended for ages—9-12 years
In the midst of the Great Depression, Abilene Tucker’s father sends her to live in the town of his youth, Manifest, Kansas. Abilene immediately begins searching for stories of her father or signs of his time in the town. Although she is disappointed in her search for her father’s stories, Abilene finds that Manifest is full of secrets and a past that many choose to keep hidden. Through the stories of Miss Sadie, the town’s Hungarian diviner, old newspaper articles, and a collection of old letters, Abilene pieces together that secret past. In the process of revealing and sharing that story, Abilene helps the citizens of Manifest heal and grow closer together. She also helps her father and herself.
Clare Vanderpool’s clever story gives insights into both the World War I time period and the Great Depression. She introduces a strong heroine and an endearing town, filled with intriguing characters and mystery. This is an interesting story for mature child readers (9 or older) and is a good introduction into important times in American history. This book also teaches good lessons about the power of community and the importance of accepting differences.
This is one of my all-time favorites because of the beautiful writing, entertaining characters, and profound life lessons. After her mother leaves, Salamanca Hiddle has a hard time adjusting to life. Her Gram and Gramps take her on a road trip across the country to follow in her mother’s footsteps. As they travel, Sal entertains her grandparents with stories from her previous school year. Current stories are mixed with memories, all full of adventure, humor, and some sadness. During their physical journey as well as their journey through Sal’s stories, Sal and her grandparents learn powerful lessons about themselves and others around them.
Sharon Creech creates wonderful characters and dialogue that are entertaining to young readers and adults. I’ve loved reading this one on my own, out loud with my husband, and for a mother / daughter book group with my 9-year-old daughter. It makes me laugh and cry every time.
India Opal Buloni is lonely when she and her father, the preacher, move to Naomi, Florida. When she goes to the grocery store and a stray dog is causing havoc, she immediately claims him as her own. As Opal and Winn-Dixie wander the small town, they make friends with a diverse group of people—Otis, the pet shop worker/musician; Miss Franny Block, the old spinster librarian; Gloria Dump, who all the other kids call a witch; and even pinch faced Amanda Wilkinson. It is through her friendships that Opal learns everyone has their problems and weaknesses as well as great strengths. She and Winn-Dixie show the residents of Naomi that there is great strength in differences.
This is a story of a young girl and her dog, but it rings true for readers of all ages. We did this for a mother / daughter book group, but I also read it to my 4 and 5 year old sons. The story is engaging, but also teaches powerful lessons.