The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron has been named the 2007 Newbery Medal winner by the American Library Association.
This is the story of a ten-year old girl who lives with her guardian in the California desert town of Hard Pan. Her mother has died (electrocuted by a downed power line after a storm), and her father doesn't want her. Lucky is worried that her guardian, who is her father's first wife, really wants to leave and return to France. She is worried that she, Lucky, will have to live in an orphanage without her dog, HMS Beagle. All this worry makes the crevices in her brain full of questions.
Lucky has been eavsdropping on several adult twelve-step programs - AA, Smokers Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and others - that take place in the town of Hard Pan's Found Object Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center. It is here that Lucky hears about "the higher power." Lucky determines that she needs her own "higher power" to help her sort out her life situation.
Lucky runs away, wearing Brigitte's (her guardian) red silk dress, into the desert during a dust storm. There is another unexpected runaway with her, a young five-year old neighbor, who she must take care of as they sit out the dust storm in an old mining dugout.
This story is an interesting, different, slice of life. The town of Hard Pan (population 43) is a very close knit rural community bordering the Mojave Desert. Everyone turns out to help find the missing kids. The ending, while expected and clearly hinted at, is very satisfying. Lucky is a different sort of character, interesting and intelligent while very resourceful in a pinch. The Higher Power of Lucky is a good story for middle readers, grades 4 through 6.