The word is used to describe the site of a rattlesnake bite on a dog trying to save his beloved (and inebriated) master, Short Sammy. Sammy’s dog’s excruciating pain was the “rock bottom” event that convinced Short Sammy to join AA and sober up.
But Short Sammy is not the focus of the story, and neither is his dog. Eight-year-old Lucky is our imperfect heroine in The Higher Power of Lucky.
Lucky lives in Hard Pan, California with her guardian, Brigitte (pronounced Bri-JEET, the French way). Lucky spends a lot of time peeking through a hole in the fence, listening in on a multitude of stories told at different “anonymous” twelve-step meetings for various addictions. She becomes convinced that if she can just hit rock bottom she’ll be able to find her “Higher Power.” Then she’ll understand what life is all about.
“Rock bottom” comes when Lucky determines that Brigitte is planning to abandon her and return to France. Since Lucky’s father left when she was born, and her real mother was killed unexpectedly two years ago,
Lucky has come to expect loss. This would be just one more. But what to do?
Lucky decides to run away.
Hard Pan has a population of only 42, yet quirky characters abound. Even so, what I found most appealing was Lucky’s aspiration to be a scientist, and her love of the desert and the creatures living there.
This book introduces readers to the natural history of the desert without seeming to teach or preach. Lucky just finds these great bugs crawling about, and shoos a snake out of the dryer, and survives a dust storm,
and removes a cholla cactus ball from a little boy’s foot. She lives in a realistic desert, something I found
Newbery Award winning books are chosen by a committee of adults, not by children. Some have argued that recent Newbery Award winners are not necessarily what most children want to read.
This may be true, but children, like adults, have varied interests and tastes ranging from Captain Underpants through Matt Christopher’s sports fiction, on to Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, and many many more. Some children even like Newberry Award winners!
My theory – any reading is better than no reading. Kid’s who read for fun, whether it’s comic books or thousand-page novels, are perfecting an art that will help them in any subject that uses a text book.
As a great woman and fine teacher (my mother) once said, “If you can read you can figure out how to do
just about anything!”
The Higher Power of Lucky, brief at only 133 pages, is recommended for ages 10 to 12.