The Higher Power of Lucky

by Susan Patron

Hardcover, 2006

Call number



Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books (2006), 144 pages


Fearing that her legal guardian plans to abandon her to return to France, ten-year-old aspiring scientist Lucky Trimble determines to run away while also continuing to seek the Higher Power that will bring stability to her life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member rdg301library
This 2007 Newbery Medal winner has quirky characters - a 10-year-old motherless girl named Lucky, and her two friends, knot-tying Lincoln (whose mother is a part-time librarian in the nearest larger town, and whose dad is 23 years older), and Miles, who lives with his grandmother (since his mother
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is in jail) and wants to read/have read 1960's "Are You My Mother?" by P.D. Eastman over and over. Lucky lives in trailers with her young French guardian (her father's ex-wife) in a remote town, population 43 (apparently mostly members of 12-step programs) at the edge of a California desert. The controversy about the word "scrotum" on the first page of the book is overblown, but the story probably is not appropriate for children under 12 anyway. It's a heartfelt tale with an ending that brought tears to my eyes, but most 9- to 11-year-olds, the book's target audience, may not "get" it.
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LibraryThing member MaowangVater
Ten-year-old Lucky Trimble lives in a trailer in Hard Pan, California (pop. 43) in the northern Mojave Desert. She has a job cleaning up around the Found Object Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center, which is where all the anonymous groups hold their meetings. She cleans up all the cigarette butts
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left by the recovering alcoholics so they won’t offend the recovering smokers in the Smokers Anonymous meeting, and then all their candy wrappers so the wrappers won’t offend the recovering overeaters when they meet. Lucky eavesdrops. All the people at these meetings got over the bad problems in their lives by finding a Higher Power, and Lucky wants to know how they did it because she has a bad problem. Two years ago, after her mother died, her father – who never wanted children – sent for his first ex-wife to come and take care of Lucky. Now Lucky is afraid that she is planning to leave, and Lucky will need a new mother, one that will not be so foolish as to marry a man who doesn’t want children and one cautious enough to avoid downed power lines after a thunderstorm so as to not get electrocuted.
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LibraryThing member mkschoen
Weird little book. Lucky lives in a trailer park? ghost town? Never really clear - in the California desert, with her guardian Bridgette. She is constantly worried that she will Bridgette will go back to France and she will be sent to an orphanage, and she decides to run away, into a dust storm.
LibraryThing member claireforhan
I enjoyed this book, but I think it may be a little deep for the general age group that is reading it (late elementary, early middle school). The search for the main character, Lucky's, "higher power," seems to be a more complex theme than some kids can grasp. Most young children may struggle with
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the idea of what exactly is a higher power- even me, 18, struggled a little with this while reading. I really enjoyed Lucky as a character. She had a young, adventurous, "I can conquer the world" kind of attitude, and I think many kids can somewhat relate to her.

Brief synopsis:
As Lucky listens through a whole in the fence to the members of an anonymous 12 step meeting, she learns of the concept of a "higher power." This sends Lucky on the quest to find her higher power. She receives 3 signs that it was time for her to run away because Lucky is worried her guardian is going to leave her. Lucky struggles with what the right decision is while she is running away during a sandstorm and comes to grow as a person. I was honestly a little confused on if Lucky actually found her higher power and insight into her life, but she did learn the her guardian indeed loved her and wanted to adopt her.

Classroom extension:
Discuss what a "higher power" is and possible events in our own life that show us insight into ourselves. Have students create their own "12 steps" to overcoming a problem they face. Create their own survival bag- what necessary things would you need to run away?
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LibraryThing member cmiller05
Lucky is an imaginative girl whose mother has died, leaving her in the hands of her French gaurdian Brigitte. Through very hard times, she has begun to believe that no one cares about her anymore. She decides to run away, then finds her "Higher Power."
LibraryThing member Librarygirl66
Fearing that her legal guardian plans to abandon her to return to France, ten-year-old aspiring scientist Lucky Trimble determines to run away while also continuing to seek the Higher Power that will bring stability to her life.
LibraryThing member ewyatt
I just had to read this one after all the controversy. The description in the writing really made me imagine how desolate and dusty life in Hard Pan could be. The story is ultimately touching about Lucky trying to believe in her family and let go of her sense of being abandoned and on her own.
LibraryThing member sckimmel
Ten year old Lucky, who lost her mother due to a senseless accident and whose father disappeared shortly after that, lives with her French guardian Brigitte in Hard Pan California, (pop. 43). She becomes consumed with the notion that Brigitte, who happens to be her father's first wife, will decide
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to return to France and leave Lucky to be raised in an orphanage.
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LibraryThing member peggyar
Lucky is a 10 year old girl whose mother has died and she is being taken care of her father's first wife. Lucky is afraid that Brigette is going to leave her, return to France and send Lucky into foster care.
LibraryThing member svnopa
Lucky lives in the desert town of Hard Pan - population 43. It was 42 after Lucky's mother died but then Lucky's guardian came so the sign didn't have to be changed. Lucky spends time collecting bug specimens and trying to find her Higher Power which she heard descibed eavesdropping on 12-step
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anonymous meetings. Reading this book was like sitting on the edge of the ocean and having one wave bring meaning like no others. Lucky is practical, imaginative and introspective bringing both clarity and wonder to simple occurences. This is a book about people bonded together and finding a sense of comfort and safety for oneself.
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LibraryThing member klinedr
When Lucky's mother dies, her absent father asks his first wife to take care of Lucky. She moves here from Paris to care for Lucky. Lucky's job is to clean up the area outside where support groups meet. She not only picks up the bottles and cigarette butts but listens to them though the fence. She
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decides she needs to find Her Higher Power so that she can live with her new mom.
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LibraryThing member lhunt314
Lucky's mother died during a thunderstorm, and her father doesn't want to take care of her. His ex-wife Brigitte moves from France to the California desert to be Lucky's guardian. When Lucky suspects Brigitte will leave her to return to France, Lucky runs away. Grades 4-6
LibraryThing member bpyron
Great voice, and interesting characters. Can see why it won the Newbery!
LibraryThing member SWOODRUFF
newberry award
Lucky is a 10 year old orphan, whose guardian is her father's ex-wife. She has a job cleaning up outside a building where "anonamous people" meet tell about hitting rock bottom and finding their higher power. Lucky is searching for her higher power so her life will turn around.
LibraryThing member Omrythea
A sweet story about a girl who tries to find her "Higher Power" that she hears about through eavesdropping on various 12 step addiction meetings. Lucky is a lovable ten year old with a lot to learn. This book is a little bit like Ida B., but Lucky is more inquisitive and curious and not quite as
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angry. As far as the hoopla about the word "scrotum", it is really a non-issue I feel. The book is appropriate for young children who are able to read material at this level. It would also make a good read-aloud.
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LibraryThing member missgin
Anyone who chooses to avoid reading this book because of one word is missing out on a unique, poetic story with strong character development. I hope the controversy actual brings more readers to the book - it is very well-written!
LibraryThing member juliette07
In my opinion this is a profound book as themes and threads are intertwined at many levels. On the surface there is adventure, detail and day to day life from a child’s point of view. Look further and we find a myriad of issues such as the loss of a parent, friendships, finding the ‘higher
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power’, coping with a desolate and dusty life style not to mention that the characters are each grappling with growing up. Through the story we witness the children supporting one another and we are often reminded of the challenges children face.

What is so delightful is the very way in which the author reasons like a child and gives voice to the fears and anxieties that we may well recognise from our own childhoods. For those of us who work with children it is very true to life - their fears, their sometimes simplistic views, uncluttered, reasoning that sounds quite straight forward. The characters are life like and well painted and provide humour. I especially liked Brigitte as she clearly attempts to speak English, despite her French nationality. Then there is Lincoln who ties knots incessantly. People think he is clueless but as Lucky tells him ‘..but you’re really not’. One such knot, a Ten Strand Round Knot was a gift to her. From that knot she wishes that she too could bring together all the complicated strands in her life and so weave it all into a beautiful neat ten strand knot. This is a delightful image of learning from someone whom others see as ‘clueless’. This is a very short read but it prompted many reflective moments that would be a joy to share with a young reader.
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LibraryThing member francescadefreitas
I hate stories with dead parents. this one made be cry into my dishwater. I really admire Lucky's determination to find her higher power, to have some say in her own life, even when it seems impossible. This is a wonderful picture of a girl who is just starting to realise that there is a world
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around her - she is smart, loving, mean, courageous, and frustrated all at once.
The narrator did a great job with the French accent.
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LibraryThing member readingrat
A touching story of love and loss and finding the family you seek among the people around you who love you.
LibraryThing member libraryLHR
I'm always surprised how writers can give such a strong voice and plots with such depths in such a small amount of space! Lucky has all of the fears that any 10 year old would be expected to have, plus the added weight of essentially being an orphan and worrying about being sent into the foster
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care system. I especially liked Lucky's friend, Lincoln, and his knot-tying habits--too cute!
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LibraryThing member jeriannthacker
A tale of an orphan and her French guardian in a sparsely populated town, Lucky is full of interesting characters and good description.
LibraryThing member BridgetteHarmon
Susan Patron's children's book is a fascinating look into the responsibilities of humans toward one another, particularly when God is taken out of the picture. Darwin is Lucky's hero throughout the book, a surprising twist for someone who has grown up in a conservative Christian environment.
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Several interpersonal relationships are explored in this book. Lucky's father is an example of negative relationships: both Brigitte and Lucky's mom divorced him because he did not want children (although in Lucky's mom's case it was too late); he is completely absent from Lucky's life; and he drags his first wife from France to the dregs of California to take care of his daughter and then never communicates with her beyond an insufficient check in the mail every month.

Brigitte is a more positive example. She pines for beautiful France, but she is committed to taking care of her ex-husband's daughter, and she even grows to love Lucky by the end of the book. She is not perfect, but she sincerely cares for the young girl who came so unexpectedly into her life.

Lucky herself is a mixed picture. She has experienced the hurt of her mother's death and her father's abandonment, and she isn't sure that she can trust Brigitte, although she wants to. She reads to 5-year-old Miles and gives him a cookie every day when he comes over, but she is constantly annoyed by him and often enjoys being mean to him. She does not want the responsibility of being treated like his mother while his real mother is in jail. However, by the end of the book she has learned to honestly care about Miles and look beyond her own problems. This seemingly Christian message of caring for one another and sacrificing for other people is very thought-provoking when presented in such a secular context.
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LibraryThing member 1morechapter
This book created a little controversy when it won the Newbery Medal because it contains the word 'scrotum' in relation to a snake bite on a dog. I'm almost conservative as they come, and I don't see what the big deal is. I really liked this book and found it to be very charming.

Lucky is a girl
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whose mother has died and who lives with a Frenchwoman. They live in the desert of California in a very small (population 43) community. Also in her life besides her French guardian Brigitte are Miles, a cute little boy whose favorite book is Are You My Mother?, and Lincoln, a boy her age who is obsessed with knot tying.

These relationships and the longings of this little girl form the heart of the novel. I really cared about these characters and found myself rooting for all of them.
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LibraryThing member candicebairn
Cute story, well developed and written. Kids would be drawn to the character of Lucky
LibraryThing member SandSing7
I was disappointed with both the story and the characterization; neither appealed to me. I felt the descriptive elements and figurative language (praised throughout many of the other reviews) was, for the most part, corny, irrelevant, and tedious. The descriptive moments stood out awkwardly from
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the story instead of supporting or enhancing it. I can see how some of Lucky's more perceptive insights would radiate with adults, but don't believe that younger children would be attracted to the text. Disappointing for a Newbery Medal Winner.
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