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The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,041 Ratings  ·  426 Reviews
Harry “Dit” Sims and Emma Walker are the unlikeliest of friends. Emma, the educated twelve-year-old daughter of Moundville’s new postmaster, is all wrong as far as Dit’s concerned. Dit was told the new postmaster would have a boy his same age, not a girl. But the rest of the town is more surprised by the Walker family’s color than whether Emma’s a boy or a girl. But that m ...more
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Published January 26th 2010 by Listening Library (Audio) (first published January 9th 2009)
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Mar 20, 2009 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvenile, fiction
Set in Moundville, Alabama in 1917 this charming juvenile novel was based on the author's grandfather's handwritten memoir.

Folks who didn't grow up in the South may not "buy" that children of different races played together and often became friends, and Levine's story captures perfectly the truth that among White Southerners there was (and still is) a vast difference between those who were (and are) unencumbered by prejudice, those who hold their prejudice inside and allow graciousness and good
May 29, 2009 Alexis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!!!!!!!
Recommended to Alexis by: Me, myself, and I!
I AM NOT LYING ONE LITTLE BIT ABOUT THIS BOOK! I THOUGHT I WOULDN'T LIKE IT THAT MUCH, BUT I THOUGHT,'I'LL GIVE IT A SHOT.' It is the BEST BOOK i have ever READ! I AM NOT LYING! It is my new favorite book! It is set in the 1900's like the 1915's-1917's, and it was at a time when blacks and whites did not hang out with eachother. A boy named Dit (I know weird name) meets a "negra" which is what they called them, named Emma, and they become BEST friends. They are about 12 years old, and it tells a ...more
Candy Sparks
Jun 04, 2013 Candy Sparks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
I loved this book so much. It really shows true friendship when friendships of that type was not allowed in 1918. I also love that kids were just kids and there were no electronics that took their time away from nature. I smiled and almost cried. It was just that good. GO NOW AND READ IT!

Sep 21, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I’ve been wrong before. Oh heck, if I’m being real honest, I’ve been wrong a lot. But I ain’t never been so wrong as I was about Emma Walker. When she first came to town, I thought she was the worst piece of bad luck I’d had since falling in the outhouse on my birthday.”

It’s the summer of 1917 in Moundville, Alabama. Harry “Dit” Sims can’t wait for the new postmaster Mr. Walker to arrive on the train from Boston with his family. He’s excited because he’s heard Mr. Walker has a twelve year old s
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
Dit Sims lives in tiny Moundville, Alabama in 1917. He’s got nine brothers and sisters and his Dad routinely forgets his name. It’s summer, it’s hot and Dit’s best friend is away for the summer. When he finds out that a new postmaster is coming to town, Dit hopes the new postmaster, Mr. Walker, has a son close to his age that will want to go fishing and play baseball.

The postmaster comes, and Dit is disappointed to learn that he doesn’t bring a son, he brings prissy, brainiac Emma who always has
Barb Middleton
I read this book last week and already can't remember the plot that well. I liked the book but obviously it was a forgettable. The story was entertaining if unbelievable. I think the author nails it better in "Lions of Little Rock," with a stronger emotional pull. Dit Sims lives in Alabama in 1917 with so many brothers and sisters, his dad forgets his name. When the new Post Master comes to town with his family, Dit becomes friends with their daughter, Emma. She's black and he's white. Problems ...more
Abigail S
Nov 11, 2015 Abigail S rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was amazing I like it a lot and I think girls and boys my age, older or maybe a year or two younger would like this book. this book The best bad luck I've ever had is about a boy named Dit and a girl named Emma and she had darker skin. This book was written with the setting being Moundville Alabama in 1917. The people in Moundville were surprised by there color of the new post-master families skin while Dit focused more on that Emma was a girl and he was told there was gonna be a boy h ...more
Mar 08, 2015 Ayla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you would like to read a book about two people that accidentally become friends then you should read this book. The genre is realistic fiction, this book is good because it was about two friends but nobody in their town approved of their friendship because of the color of their skin.This book takes place in 1917 in the town of Moundville.

Dit didn't like the new postman's daughter, Emma Walker, because she was black, rich and she seemed stuck up. But slowly they became friends and were togethe
Another YALSA Amazing Audiobooks pick. Excellent narration by Kirby Heyborne.

I would probably choose to shelve this one in J rather than in YA, because there is really no questionable content, and the narrator is 12. That being said, this was a wonderful book that could be enjoyed by anyone from about fourth grade on up.

Dit Sims meets Emma Walker when she arrives in town as the new postmaster's daughter. Dit has been told that the new postmaster has a twelve-year-old son, so he is disappointed
Nov 13, 2009 Janssen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is almost a five star book for me. It was just so so good. Historical fiction at it's finest.
Abdelhamid Fenniche
The 1

This story takes place somewhere in the South of the United States. It's in a rural town called Moundville. It's called mound ville because they are Indian mounds. It's a small town where not a lot happens. The story begins in June 1917. There is al lot os racism because the people who live there don't like the new black family that moves to the town. When the new family arrived " It got real quiet for a moment. Everyone stared a Mr. Walker. ". This shows racism in a small town at the begin
Feb 15, 2012 Rachael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book could use a makeover. Both the title and the cover (paperback edition) led me to believe that I was about to read a humorous, light-hearted middle grade adventure. It was a nice surprise that this turned out to be such a complex story- I just don't think the packaging is doing it a justice. This is a coming-of-age story about a young white boy, Dit, in rural Alabama who is disappointed when Emma, a black girl from Boston, moves in next door (apparently she is the 'bad luck' referenced ...more
What a fabulous book! I was hooked by the first paragraph. Dit's voice is so strong in this book, I can't help completely loving him and loving watching his bit of coming of age. I loved seeing Emma through his eyes, as well as everything else. I loved the atmosphere I felt from the book. Amazing writing. Beautiful story complete with humor, honesty, innocence, knowledge, right v. wrong, tragedy, fear, courage, and much more. Knowing this is based on the author's grandfather's experiences, and I ...more
I am always little conflicted when reviewing children's books. I generally have two opinions: my adult response and my "what-I-think-kids-will-think" response.

For children, the author very successfully presented the topic of race relations. The language was concise, accessible, and the story intriguing. The main character, Dit, was well developed. I liked that he didn't always make the right choice. I think kids will really respond to him and injustice presented in the plot.

On the flip (and adul
Jul 04, 2009 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Moundville, AL in 1917, Harry Otis (Dit) Sims is one of 10 children in his family. He's frustrated that he can't seem to get his parents' attention, and he especially wants his father's approval. Dit is good at baseball and hunting with the "flip it" slingshot he made to shoot rocks. His best friend, Chip, is the mayor's son. When the town gets a new postmaster, Dit has high hopes that he'll have a son, but instead when the Walkers arrive by train from Boston, their only child is a girl about ...more
Beth Pearson
Jan 10, 2011 Beth Pearson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This quick read (maybe 3-4 hours?) was great. I kind of wanted to give it 5 stars, but the "It was amazing" part scared me. I decided maybe I was thinking 5 stars simply because I've read some crappy books lately. : ) Either way, I very much enjoyed it.

Apparently, I really like stories of race interactions as I've read a lot dealing with black vs. white. Add the South to it and place it before segregation ended and I really, really am interested to see what happens. The theory of it all is fasc
Some book are just good literature and do not need the adjectival clause "young adult"; examples are The Book Thief and The Bog Child. Some probably need the clause but are still excellent literature; examples would be Holes or The Keeper. This book fits in neither category but is just typical young adult literature, mostly written in that over excited slangy style that we adults seem to think attracts young adults. The book is saved by having an interesting topic - racism in Alabama in about 19 ...more
Katie B.
Jan 03, 2014 Katie B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to try reading more Historical-Fiction Books
This book kept me entertained throughout most of the story. There were a couple parts that seemed to just drag me along. I really thought this was a good book, but not 5 star worthy. The way it was written did make me amazed because I had to imagine all the research that Kristen Levine did to make this possible. I loved the book, it kept me entertained, and I would definitely recommend it to a friend. Now, I was not into Historical-Fiction books at all when I first started reading it. But now th ...more
Apr 03, 2016 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't really express my feelings about this book because in some parts I was mad or sad or happy, so this book is kinda bumpy with feelings.
Apr 04, 2016 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a terrific story. The characters were engaging and the story line really drew me in.
What a wonderful story. Two smart and very brave kids. I loved the reader of this - at times, he had a Forrest Gump sound to his voice. It was easy to like these characters and to really feel for what they were going through at that time. I know it's a part of history and the way things were back then, but it still makes me cringe to hear about people being so darn ignorant. Dit and Emma were certainly courageous; not only to be such good friends in the face of the prejudice of the time, but als ...more
Emma Walker moves to Moundville, Alabama, in 1917, and Harry "Dit" Sims' life is changed forever as he begins to see the world in more than black and white.

4 1/2 stars. I liked Levine's The Lions of Little Rock , which is set in the early days of the civil rights movement, more - but this one is fabulous too. Dit's voice is wonderful - read by Kirby Heybourne in the audio version - and I adored Emma.
Alexis Mendez
Have you ever read a book with a people that didn't aprove of a certain friendship. Well this is the book for you. The genre is realistic fiction. This book is a good book because it talks about a forbidden friendship and why is it so complicated for them to be friends.
This takes place in Moundville, Alabama.The main characters are Harry " Dit" Sims and Emma Walker. They doughtfuly came friends. Dit likes to go enter in the fourth hunt but Emma thinks it is bad. Then Doc Haley gets put on tria
Anna Mari
A July afternoon in 1918 in the town of Moundville, Al, the new postmaster and his family arrive. Dit is excited because the new postmaster generally means a new friend next door. He was surprised and disappointed when the new family arrived with just one child and she was a girl. To top it off, the family was not white and from Boston.

The story chronicles the friendship as it develops between Emma and Dit and how each comes to understand the other.

Change is difficult. In this era, race was a ha
Feb 23, 2015 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is some really good YA fiction - great dialogue with precocious, engaging characters - but with some heavy themes of race and violence (so best for 7th grade and up).

Some of the scenes felt a bit forced (and Dit and Emma's ages and genders made some of the scenes feel further out of time and place), but I did enjoy how much Dit grew as a result of his friendship with Emma. I really enjoyed how Levine dealt with the racism issues.

May 22, 2014 Jax rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was beyond my expectations. Although the story itself may seem a little dry and a little too similar to To Kill a Mockingbird, the writing and character development was phenomenal. It is especially interesting to see how the protagonist changes and realizes the eccentricity that prejudiced problems are commonly accepted in his conservative town. Unlike To Kill a Mockingbird, I enjoyed that there was a happy ending for the victim and that things ended up alright in the end even if it ended w ...more
Mar 21, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so good! It was about two kids with different races becoming friends. It reminds me a lot of Lions of Little Rock.
Emily Rietz
Jul 20, 2015 Emily Rietz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars! This was a wonderful story and a needed one for middle grade readers. I loved Levine's Lions of Little Rock, so I was eager to read her first. Both Dit and Emma's character evolution was honest and intriguing and I love the diversity in the characters throughout the book. Messages about loyalty, sacrifice, and wrestling with your true self and the impact people you choose to include in your life will linger with readers.

I deducted a half star for the occasional intentional fragments
Dit befriends Emma, daughter of the town's new black postmaster. Their unlikely friendship teaches Dit valuable lessons about the nature of true friendship, personal sacrfice and justice. I enjoyed the folksy tone of Dit's narrative and several lively characters, such as Jim Dang It. But the flaws stuck out like stones in my shoe. Dit and his father sharing a table at the diner with Emma and her father, as well as sitting together at the circus seems highly unlikely in 1917 Alabama. And the plot ...more
May 20, 2014 Anthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Kate Bogi

I have risen from the dead. Escaped all odds and made it back onto the planet we call Earth. And the first thing I did? I read this book. This book taught me a lot. It taught me that (possibly) a White and a Black could have gotten along back then. Need an example in the form of a review? Then here you go.

The Story: Dit, your average 12 year old in 1920, Hopes the new postman in town will have a son like him. What he gets is a dark girl named Emma. At first never even wan
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YA Reads for Teac...: The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had - Kristin Levine 3 21 Mar 14, 2011 08:12AM  
  • A Season of Gifts (A Long Way from Chicago, #3)
  • Born to Fly
  • Jefferson's Sons
  • The Water Seeker
  • When the Whistle Blows
  • Bird in a Box
  • Peace, Locomotion
  • The Rock and the River (The Rock and the River, #1)
  • Revolution (The Sixties Trilogy, #2)
  • Small Acts of Amazing Courage
  • Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me
  • Hattie Ever After (Hattie, #2)
  • Crossing Stones
  • Samurai Shortstop
  • The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
  • All the Broken Pieces
  • Wild Things
  • The Devil's Paintbox

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“Then the Union forces burned the University of Alabama.' Uncle Wiggens opened and closed his fists, wriggling his fingers. I think they were supposed to be the flames, licking at the buildings. 'The Yankees didn't want you to have no education. If it hadn't been for General Lee, that's Robert E. Lee, mind you, none of you would be here today!” 3 likes
“We were almost back to the jail with our second load, and I was just beginning to think we might pull this off, when Uncle Wiggens wandered into the street.
'Who there?' he called out, his words slurred.
Emma ducked behind a tree, but I didn't move fast enough. 'Is that you, Dit?'
I nodded. Something was strange about him.
'What you doing out so late at night?' he asked.
'Nothing.' I figured out what was strange. 'Where's your leg?' I asked. His leg ended at the knee and he was hopping along on one leg and his cane.
'Left it at home,' said Uncle Wiggens. 'Always do when I'm sleepwalking. My daughter warned me about drinking a whole bottle of whiskey in one sitting. But I was never one to let a woman tell me what to do.'
'Yeah. Me neither.'
'Well,' said Uncle Wiggens, 'I'd best get on home before I wake up.'
'Being without my leg and all.'
'That would be embarrassing.'
'Sure would. Sure would.' Uncle Wiggens mumbled to himself as he wandered off. 'General Lee always said, if you ain't got all your supplies, don't ride into battle. Course he meant bullets, but he wouldn't have liked us going off without our legs neither. Course most of us have our legs buttoned on, but...”
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