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The Higher Power of Lucky (The Hard Pan Trilogy #1)

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  9,435 ratings  ·  1,225 reviews
Believing that her French guardian is about to abandon her to an orphanage in the city, ten-year-old Lucky runs away from her small town with her beloved dog by her side in order to trek across the Mojave Desert in this Newbery Medal winning novel from Susan Patron. Lucky, age ten, can't wait another day. The meanness gland in her heart and the crevices full of questions i ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
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The Giver by Lois LowryHoles by Louis SacharA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Most Deserving Newbery
43rd out of 95 books — 2,302 voters
The Giver by Lois LowryA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleHoles by Louis SacharNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Newbery Medal Winner Books
36th out of 94 books — 266 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Angela Dawn
This sleeper book is one of the most innovative, honest, and compassionate pieces of children's literature that I have read in a long time.
Through the endearing character of Lucky, the intelligent, insightful, resourceful, and resilient ten-year-old girl who became the foster child of her absentee father's French ex-wife after the death of her mother, we are given a child's eye view of a number of complex social issues in the well-named desert community of Hard Pan, CA., all handled with sensiti
This book may ring a bell because of the laughable controversy stirred up over the use of the word "scrotum" in a blink-and-you'll-miss it reference about a snake biting someone's pet dog. Ironically, the author probably chose the clinical term on purpose to avoid trouble, since the significantly rough-around-the-edges character who tells the story would almost certainly phrase it quite differently had he been a flesh and blood figure, but what can you do? As silly as this is, I feel like I have ...more
Overall, I just can't understand why this book won the Newbery, unless it was a sad year for children's lit. I just started listening to another Newbery book, A Wrinkle in Time," and in the introduction, the author comments that adults don't understand this book, but children "get it." I feel like this book is the exact opposite; I'm sure some adults felt like it was deep and meaningful and rich, but I suspect many children will find it a bit dull and depressing. Also, I found the book to be a b ...more
I’m not sure what can be said about this that hasn’t already been said—it’s a good book, a very pretty book, somewhat atmospheric, in its way. But there’s not a lot of action. It’s another in the Newbery committee’s standards: a book with a strong character who has some internal conflict, but not a whole lot happens externally. In this particular case, I think it worked better than, say, Criss Cross, because THPOL really is about being in a town that’s perfectly happy with the status quo. The bi ...more
Linda Lipko
This is one of my favorite Newbery books to date!!!!

Once again, I am in awe of the ability of YA books to reach out and tug at heartstrings while dealing with very complex issues.

I highly recommend this profoundly moving tale of Lucky, a rough and tumble ten year old whose mother died tragically and thus now is in the guardianship of her father's previous wife Brigitte.

Brigitte moves from France to temporarily take care of Lucky until a "real" home can be found.

Living in three tiny connected tra
Lisa the Librarian
This is a Newbery Medal winning book. I had heard all kinds of caveats about it: "There is an 'unsuitable' wordin it." "It is all about a little girl listening to horror stories in Alocholics Anoynmous meetings." "It is just not a well written story."

It is one of those cases where the hype outweighs the actual facts. Because I know it is important to actually read a book before getting all upset about it, and the fact that my library recieved the book as a part of an Newbery collection I decide
My elder daughter and I went to a book reading by Susan Patron this evening which inspired me to finally write a review of The Higher Power of Lucky. This was, frankly, one of the most inspiring children's books that I've read in years. How often is it that authors tackle life, death, addiction and meanness without tottering over into Monday Night Movie territory? Patron handles these topics with class and style, or as her character Brigitte might say, "panache."
Lucky is 10 years old and lives
Everyone's life story has the capacity to guide someone else who is searching for a thread of reason through their own. This is a special book, perfect for children. The plot is fairly simple but is riddled with complex themes--just like childhood. I found it difficult, at first, not to pathologize the behavior of each character. But the story serves as a great reminder that we all have our own struggles and our quirks. Those who listen carefully can find comfort in the experiences of others.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I've made it a habit to read the Newbery Medal winning books, and often I read the runners-up as well. What I've found is that lately I have been less than impressed with the winning titles. This particular winner typifies my dislike for the winning choices.

What we have in this book is all the didactic qualities that the ALA seems to like, mixed in with a parent-less youth, who happens to be bright enough to overcome her own situation. It's the same qualities that we found in KIRA-KIRA, CRISPIN,
Sep 29, 2007 Meagan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Elementary and Junior High kids who like realistic stories
I primarily chose to read this book because it has been challenged in school libraries. If it hadn't been, I might never have found it. (Thank you, censorship flunkies!) I thought this book was tender and poignant, and the characters, particularly Lucky, were very sympathetic and three-dimensional. The tale follows Lucky, whose father never wanted children and whose mother died when she was young. She is now cared for by her father's first wife, Brigitte, who happens to be French. Lucky spends m ...more
This book was so lazy. I hate books that introduce characters but go into no depth about them like the girl, Lucky's father. You just have to assume so much. On one hand I'm glad this book was so short because I couldn't stand reading any more of it, but on the other hand give us some depth. To be honest I felt like all the characters were lacking. There was just so many questions I was left with about them. Also I'm a sucker for heartfelt endings and I'm not ashamed to admit a lot of books make ...more
Medford Children's Library
Sep 27, 2007 Medford Children's Library rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like strong and interesting characters
Our newest Newbery Award winner introudces us to Lucky, a ten year old girl who is orphaned after the tragic death of her mother. Brigette, her father's exwife, leaves her home in France to take care of her. Lucky becomes anxiety ridden because she believes that this situation is only temporary. She searches for a Higher Power by overhearing AA meetings for strength and answers. She wishes she could have Brigette stay with her, but she knows she misses France. The hot California desert is not th ...more
Andrea Blythe
A young girl named Lucky lives in a tiny desert town in California, has a passion for science, and likes to eavesdrop on AA and other Anonymous meetings, which have inspired her to look for her own Higher Power. Terrified that her guardian Brigitte might abandon her and go back to France, she tries to find ways to get Brigitte to stay. A simple, sweet story with simple resolutions.
eva steele-saccio
I did enjoy this book, though I didn't think it necessarily merited a Newberry. The main character, Lucky, was quirky and intelligent and her adventures were entertaining and ultimately heartwarming. However, I felt like the writing was a bit sloppy, rushed and somewhat lazy in places. Nothing that couldn't be cleaned up with some additional editing, but still, to be bestowed the highest honor in children's literature...the writing should be impeccable. I say this realizing the intent of the pro ...more
I loved this sweet story of Lucky searching everywhere for her higher power (which she learns about while eavesdropping on the 12 step programs held in the community building in her small town of Hard Pan, CA. population 43). She's hoping that having her own higher power will make her guardian not want to move back to France, keeping her from being sent off to an orphanage. I loved all the quirky characters, her dog HMS Beagle, (named after her idol Charles Darwin), and her relationship with her ...more
This is a Newbury Award winning book about Lucky, a 10 year old girl who lives in a tiny California town. She eavesdrops on 12 Step Program meetings, so she has become familiar with the concept of a Higher Power. She has a French Guardian named Brigitte because Lucky’s mother was tragically killed when Lucky was 8, and her father doesn’t want a relationship with her. She also has a dog and two quirky friends named Lincoln and Miles who figure prominently in Lucky's life. Because of the stories o ...more
Meh. This books feel like a formulaic newbery novel. I do like the controversy about scrotum it raised. That was amusing and interesting at least.
Summary: Lucky, an inquisitive and adventurous tween, lives in a small tight-knit desert community where she struggles to make sense of life's uncertainties like her mother's death, her father's disappearance from her life, and the degree of devotion of her guardian. Just as the people at addiction support group meetings on which Lucky spies, she hopes to find her "Higher Power" in order to make sense of things. Lucky's internal struggles with fear and trust (along with her tendency to get carri ...more
Recommended Ages 9-12

From Booklist
Lucky, age 10, lives in tiny Hard Pan, California (population 43), with her dog and the young French woman who is her guardian. With a personality that may remind some readers of Ramona Quimby, Lucky, who is totally contemporary, teeters between bravado--gathering insect specimens, scaring away snakes from the laundry--and fear that her guardian will leave her to return to France. Looking for solace, Lucky eavesdrops on the various 12-step meetings held in Hard
Nov 11, 2009 Alicia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: j
The Higher Power of Lucky is the story of a 10 year old girl named Lucky. Lucky's life seems from the outside to be quite desperate. Her mother has passed away, and her father, who doesn't want to have anything do to with her, convinces is ex-wife to move from France to be Lucky's guardian. Lucky and her guardian, Bridgitte live in a hodgepodge collection of small trailers in the tiny desert town of Hard Pan, California. Despite desperate poverty and the absence of her parents, Lucky sees the be ...more
Edit Ostrom
Reading this book was like eating raw broccoli. You know it's good for you but you'd rather stop eating. After a while, even broccoli starts tasting good. So, I had to force myself through half the book before I started actually enjoying it and I really doubt a child has enough will power to reach that point.

There were so many things I did not like in the beginning. A child name Lucky? A beautiful, young Frech woman taking care of an American kid in a CA trailer? And the kid is the daughter of
Ten-year-old Lucky, who lost her mother in a freak accident, and has never met her father, lives in a "ham tin" trailer in Hard Pan, California (pop. 43) in the middle of the Mojave Desert. For the moment, her father's first wife, Brigitte, has come to Hard Pan from France to be Lucky's guardian, bringing her parsley grinder and her tendency to say "Oh, la, la," to every clumsy thing that Lucky does. (Sometimes its "Oh, la, la, la, la" or even "Oh, la, la, la, la, la, la, LA, LA," because the m ...more
Steve Clark
The review on the back says "Patron is a master of light but sure characterization and closely observed detail. A small gem." It's hard to improve on that. This is not a story of high drama or tense action, and it can only slightly be characterized as a 'coming-of-age' tale, because Lucky is still the same young girl at the end of the story that she was at the beginning. What it IS is a tender, slightly sentimental look at a young girl struggling with her very normal desire for a sense of belong ...more
Genre: Junior Book- Contemporary Realism
Summary: Lucky is a ten year old girl who has, unfortunately, not been very lucky in her life so far. Her mother died after stepping on a fallen power line, her father abandoned her, and now she believed her guardian Brigitte was leaving her to go back to France. Lucky needed some kind of control on her life, so she decided to run away where she was finally given the clarity she was looking for.
Critique- The character development of Lucky.
Lucky has had a
I've heard good things about this book and it's an award winner after-all. It's also on the list of frequently banned books, all because the word scrotum appears in the first chapter.

The descriptions were very good and vivid, the dialogue decent. The author did a good job of capturing Lucky's thoughts and putting the reader into the head of a young girl. The overall plot and pace were a bit slow and didn't hold my interest for long, however. This feels like a book that is trying to be deep but
The main character of this novel is named Lucky. She is ten years old and lives in Hard Pan, California which only has a population of 43. Her mother died after touching an ungrounded electrical wire and her father decides to remarry a French woman who he leaves Lucky with as her guardian. Lucky also has a dog that she is very close to. She is in constant fear that her guardian will leave her and return to France. Lucky is a very unconventional ten year old girl much like Ramona Quimby, wanting ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Nathaniel marked it as to-read
Lucky is a 10 year old girl living in Hard Pan, California. She has three major friend in Hard Pan, HMS beagle(her dog), Lincoln(a boy her same age), and Miles(a five year old neighbor boy). Her mother died in a fire 2 years earlier. Lucky keeps her mother's ashes in a urn. Her father is not present in her life. She lives with her father's ex-wife, Brigitte. Brigitte moved from France to be her guardian at the request of Lucky’s Father. Lucky is searching for her higher power after listening in ...more
Jason Pettus
(I now maintain a blog just for my kid-lit reviews. Find it at .)

A friend has convinced me to try my hand this year for the first time at children's literature; but I don't actually know anything about children's literature, so am starting the process among other ways by first reading all the books that have won the Newbery Award in the last ten years, although I've been warned that there is sometimes a strong disconnect between such books and what the actual bo
This Newbery Award winner was a really sweet book. Ten year old Lucky struggles to find her place. After listening in on 12-step programs for various addictions, Lucky seeks to find her higher power. Her mother died only a couple years ago, and to her knowledge, she has never met her father. When she fears that guardian Brigette wants to leave her and return to France, Lucky runs away to find her higher power. The town, Hard Pan, has a population of 43, and the characters presented are as colorf ...more
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Susan Patron specialized in Children's Services for 35 years at the Los Angeles Public Library before retiring in 2007, the same year her novel The Higher Power of Lucky was awarded the John Newbery Medal. As the library's Juvenile Materials Collection Development Manager, she trained and mentored children's librarians in 72 branches. Patron has served on many book award committees, including the ...more
More about Susan Patron...

Other Books in the Series

The Hard Pan Trilogy (3 books)
  • Lucky Breaks (The Hard Pan Trilogy, #2)
  • Lucky for Good (The Hard Pan Trilogy, #3)
Lucky Breaks (The Hard Pan Trilogy, #2) Lucky for Good (The Hard Pan Trilogy, #3) Behind the Masks: The Diary of Angeline Reddy, Bodie, California, 1880 (Dear America) Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe Burgoo Stew

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“Because sometimes Lucky wanted to change everything, all the bad things that had happened, and sometimes she wanted everything to stay the same forever.” 9 likes
“It made her feel discouraged, like if you took the word apart into two sections of dis and couraged. It was getting harder and harder to stay couraged.” 3 likes
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