Thursday, March 15, 2007

More Lucky

I just loved this story. I liked the characters, I liked the descriptions of everyday life (government cheese! Mint Milanos!), and I really liked the details about the community and the surrounding desert - chukars, rattlesnakes, red racers (in the dryer - what a wonderful and horrifying detail), burros, and tarantulas. It was especially fun to read this right after Holes, which also took place in the desert. Despite the snakes and tarantulas, though, Lucky's desert is an altogether friendlier place than Stanley Yelnats's - partially because it is clear that the author loves the desert, and partially because Lucky is quite the naturalist.

Since I have a ten year old that collects bugs like Lucky does (not even hesitating to pick up spiders with his bare hands), I really appreciated the details of Lucky's "museum". Her report on the tarantula hawk wasp sounds very much like something my son would write. Patron just got the tone and the kids' varied interests right, just like she did with the government cheese.

Her description of minor characters is just as appealing:
Lincoln's father was an Older Dad with a pension - he was twenty-three years older than Lincoln's mom - and looked more like a grandfather than a father. He drove around the desert in his homemade dune buggy searching for historic pieces of barbed wire, and then he sold them on eBay.
And Lucky's house - her 'canned-ham' trailer, and the two other trailers linked to it, "shaped and not even a mouse would be able to find a crack or opening anywhere" is simply the coolest house for a kid to live in since the windmill in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

I wrote down some of my favorite passages while we were waiting to see the pediatrician yesterday. I had to stop before the doctor came in, because I started running out of paper and I just kept finding new quotes that I liked even more than the stuff I had already written:
"It is wrong to have snakes in dryers! This is not something that would ever happen in France. California is not a civilized country!" (p. 54)

Short Sammy had gone back to frown at the block of cheese on his table. "The only thing left, man, is to fry this thing in bacon grease," he said. (p. 61)

Mothers have their good sides, their bad sides, and their wacky sides, but Lucky figured Lincoln's mother had no way of knowing at the time he was born that he would turn out to be so dedicated about knots. (p. 63)

Never before had Lucky realized that Lincoln's knot-tying brain secretions gave him such a special way of seeing. (p. 68)
All in all, I'm glad "scrotum" is bringing this to a wider audience, and I'm fairly certain that my kids will like this story as much as I did. I'm not sure that I love the cover illustration, though I did like many of the little drawings in the book itself. I just realized what is happening on the cover (a day after finishing the book) though, and it makes the cover a bit more poignant and fitting, knowing what is happening there.


Sandy D. said...

You know, with all the controversy over scrotum, nobody even mentioned what I thought were the really potentially disturbing to kids parts of the book: the unexpected death of Lucky's mother (which happened two years before the story started), and the fact that Lucky didn't know her father from a funeral parlor worker. :-(

Sandy D. said...

Patron is working on a sequel to Lucky, to be called Lincoln's Knot. I'm really looking forward to hearing Lincoln's story and his perspective on things. :-)

Wash. Post blurb with Patron where I read this, which also talks about how she writes.

Betsy said...

I'm really interested in reading this one. Sounds like it hits a lot of different nerves, but that everybody's liked it so far. March has been my Newbery Break so I'm looking forward to hopping back in!

Sandy D. said...

My son (age 10) finished this today, and liked it. His favorite parts: Lucky's bug collection (I predicted that), and "ma puce" - the French term for a kid that translates as "my flea". :-)

Sandy D. said...

Coming back to add that the sequel is actually called "Lucky Breaks". Just got it from the new book shelf at my library. :-)