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The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had
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The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,564 ratings  ·  368 reviews
The last thing Harry ?Dit? Sims expects when Emma Walker comes to town is to become friends. Proper -talking, brainy Emma doesn?t play baseball or fi sh too well, but she sure makes Dit think, especially about the differences between black and white. But soon Dit is thinking about a whole lot more when the town barber, who is black, is put on trial for a terrible crime. To ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published January 22nd 2009 by Putnam Publishing Group (first published January 9th 2009)
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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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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!

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
“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
Abdelhamid Fenniche
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
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
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
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
Anne Broyles
12-year-old Dit, a white boy in a small Alabama town in 1917, unexpectedly becomes friends with the new postmaster's daughter, Emma, who has very different interests and is African-American. This is a lovely tale of two strong, smart kids who face adversity, racism, and a challenge to save a man's life with wisdom, shared skills and inner fortitude. I liked that thought Dit's family had ten children, they were not "poor white trash" as some authors might have made them, and that both of Emma's p ...more
Kaitlin M
After reading The Lions of Little Rock (which I LOVED!!!) I was determind to read another book by Kristin Levine. When I started reading, I had a hard time getting into the book. Especially since I had just read a book with proper english and this book had a TON of country slang. At first I didn't like the plot but after I got passed the fourth chapter I was in love! I really like books where the main character is a better person at the end of the book. This book was one of those kind of storys. ...more
This is almost a five star book for me. It was just so so good. Historical fiction at it's finest.
Slow to start but the characters were so endearing it became a page turner.
"Dit" Sims often gets lost in his big family. He longs for the day when he and his dad can be alone for a few minutes and Dad can give him "the talk." His life changes drastically, though, when the Walker family comes to town. Mr. Walker is the new postmaster and he's black. And in 1917 Moundville Alabama, this doesn't go over well. But because of the philosophy of Dit's Mom, “You don’t have to like everyone, but you have to be nice to everyone,” he befriends Emma, Mr. Walker's daughter. Dit tak ...more
Dit is excited to hear there will be a new postmaster moving to town and he's doubly excited to hear that the postmaster has a child his age. Disappointment sets in when the postermaster's child is not only a girl, but a black girl. Set in 1917 in southern Alabama, prejudice is a way of life. Reluctantly, Dit starts a friendship with Emma, the postmaster's daughter. He teaches her to skip stones across the lake, throw a baseball, make a cave, and more. Dit and Emma's friendship grows despite tea ...more
Andrea at Reading Lark
Review Posted on Reading Lark 4/4/11:

Kristin Levine evokes the spirit of To Kill a Mockingbird as she tells the story of Henry "Dit" Sims in 1917 rural Alabama. Even though I was often reminded of events in To Kill a Mockingbird that only made me love this book more. Levine stays true to the southern voices of the time period - both good and bad - as she evaluates the issue of race.

Dit Sims is one of ten children and being born almost smack in the middle
I really enjoyed this book. It felt similar to Mildred D. Taylor's books. It deals with a difficult time in history for black/white relations. One review that I read said that you have to "suspend belief" at the end. Yes, things tend to work out neatly, but that is a style that some people like and others don't. Another review said that the first part was long and cumbersome before you get to the meat of the plot. I disagree. The story is very character driven. Dit has to change before he is rea ...more
Diana Welsch
When Moundsville, Alabama gets a new postmaster from Boston, 12-year old Dit is told that he would be bringing along a son his age. Imagine his disappointment when, instead of a new buddy to play baseball and fish with, his new neighbor is an uptight, book-reading city girl who hates hunting and always wears clean clothes and shoes. That the family is also Black isn't much of an issue for him, as neither Dit nor his family nor many of the townsfolk have a problem per se with "Negras." However, D ...more
Rather than paint a black versus white picture of the pre-civil-rights South, Levine uses the story of the friendship between a black teenage girl and a white teenage boy to explore the different shades of prejudice of the time period. Everything from acceptance to the ugliest bigotry is present.

The hero acts mostly as an observer of prejudice. His fairly liberal family has not raised him to be racist, and he already has black friends when Emma moves to town. His main objection to her is actuall
Kristen Jorgensen
Dit lives in Alabama before the civil rights movement took place. The anticipated arrival of the newly hired postmaster and his supposed son were the talk of the town. Instead, amid great surprise, the new postmaster from Boston is black and, to Dit's dismay, his would-be son is Emma, a bookwormish girl.

Dit's reluctance and Emma's suspicions are hard to swallow but as their adventures continue they come to trust and rely upon each other. Dit and Emma teach each other and make each other a better
Rachael Ricker (Myers)
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
Claire V
Harry "Dit" Simms is a regular boy growing up in a mixed-up town Down South in the early 1900s. When there's news of a new postmaster coming to town, everyone gets exited, especially Dit. He's hoping for a boy his age to be friends with, but what he gets instead is a smart-mouthed, brainy, fast-talking Emma Walker. Dit hates her right on sight- and being African American doesn't help Emma earn the respect of Dit or the townspeople, either. Soon, however, against all odds Dit and Emma become frie ...more
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YA Reads for Teac...: The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had - Kristin Levine 3 21 Mar 14, 2011 08:12AM  
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The Lions of Little Rock The Paper Cowboy

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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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