Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: "Half a Chance" by Cynthia Lord

Lucy and her family have just moved - again.  This time to a lake in New Hampshire; but as soon as they arrive, her dad is off for another extended photography assignment.  Lucy, her mom, and their dog are left to unpack and settle in.  Thankfully, Lucy quickly meets Nate - a boy close to her age who spends his summers in the cottage next door to Lucy.  They become fast friends and spend time watching the loons who live out on the island.  In fact, when Lucy finds out about a kids' photography contest that her father is judging, Nate helps her and lets her enter with his name so her father won't know or give her special treatment.  When it comes to entering the contest though, Lucy has some tough decisions because some of the photos show the difficulties that Nate's family is facing...  and that may not be okay with Nate.

This is a great middle grade novel that addresses well with issues that many kids of this age group are dealing with.  First, Lucy is the new kid in town.  It can be very scary to be in that position, no matter how many times it has happened.  She is put in a situation where there are kids her age right next door - but they have a friend who feels like competing for their attention. There is a tension there that is easily recognizable, and it is dealt with clearly and positively.  Second, Lucy has an absent father.  Her parents are still married, but her father leaves for long periods of time, and sometimes Lucy feels less important to him than his work.  Also, she doesn't think he can really see the talents she has.  The author shows how this works out in Lucy's twelve year old mind, and shows strategies for working through and communicating these feelings.  Third, Lucy's only friend here in this new place is going through some family issues that are difficult to understand and difficult even for the adults to decide the best course of action.  This is dealt with sensitively, and demonstrate the different ways that you can be a good friend.

And while all of these issues are worked through in this book, it doesn't feel didactic at all.  It is an entertaining story, full of life and wonder and authenticity.

I will absolutely recommend this to middle readers (4th-6th grade or so) in my library looking for realistic fiction books about friendship, being the new kid, nature and photography.

*****
Half a Chance
by Cynthia Lord
Scholastic, 2014
218 pages
Source:  Publisher for honest review
*****
Links to Amazon:


Half a Chance
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