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Minimum grade level:
Read the last sentence on page 15 to the end of page 16:
Lucky loved rainstorms because of how wild and scary they are, when you are safe inside your trailer with the wind whooshing and blowing like crazy and rain pouring down so hard it turns the dry streambed into a river. Her favorite part was afterward, when it smells like the first day of the history of the world, like creosote and wild sage. The sun comes out and you look around at all the changes the storm has caused: the outside chairs blown away, the Joshua trees plumped up with water, the ground still a little wet. This is what Lucky imagined her mother was doing—sniffing up the morning and feeling the cool ground with her toes—when she stepped on a downed power line, was electrocuted, and died. And this is how Lucky became a ward, which is the person a Guardian guards. A ward must stay alert, carry a well-equipped survival kit at all times, and watch out for danger signs—because of the strange and terrible and good and bad things that happen when you least expect them to.
Lucky expects she is about to be abandoned by her Guardian, Brigitte, who is French and most certainly wants to go back to France where there are no snakes, cheese is not a block of orange, and it never gets as hot as it does in the California desert. Lucky is sure Brigitte wants to go home to France and Lucky is mad—Guardians are to stay put and take care of the girls they are responsible for! Still, Lucky is convinced she is about to be dumped in an orphanage, without her dog and her friends, far away from her home in the desert. So she decides to take control of her own life. She decides to run away. Lucky is lugging the world’s heaviest survival kit, including tiny packets of ketchup, a brand new toothbrush and a bottle of water, when she leaves the trailer that is home. She is sure her survival kit will protect her. What she doesn’t expect is a dust storm.
"A ward must stay alert, carry a well-equipped survival kit at all times, and watch out for danger signs—because of the strange and terrible and good and bad things that happen when you least expect them to."
What Lucky expects and what really happens are not the same. Lucky needs to remember that good things too may happen when you least expect them.
Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!
- Do you think Lucky lives up to her name? How is Lucky lucky? Why did the author decide to name her main character Lucky?
- The author chose a desert setting for the book. How would the story be different if she had decided to have Lucky live in the mountains or near the ocean?
- Among the things Lucky carries in her survival kit backpack are mineral oil, a book, specimen boxes, pencil and notebook, ketchup packets, can of beans, toothbrush and toothpaste, water, and a survival blanket. What do you think of her choices? What would you carry in a survival kit?
- Her mother is dead and her father doesn’t want children. Who is Lucky’s family? What do you think the author is saying about families?
- Lincoln is always tying knots from discarded string no one else wants and gives Lucky a ten-strand round knot, a knot with no loose cord ends that might unwind. What does the knot represent to Lucky?
- Lucky is all set to runaway, but "Then for no reason she got a sudden exploding idea. She rushed to Brigette’s trailer and flung open the closet." From the closet, Lucky takes Brigitte’s red silk dress. Why?
- After the dust storm, when the adults come looking for Lucky, Miles and Lincoln , why does Lucky decide that is the right time to open the urn with her mother’s ashes?
- Lucky feels like she has no control over her own life since she’s only 10. Do you ever feel frustrated about not having control over something?
- What did you enjoy about this book?
- Lucky eavesdrops on the meetings to find out how the anonymous people inside got control of their lives through their Higher Power but nobody ever explains how they found their Higher Power. Does Lucky find her higher power? What is it?
If you liked this book, try
- Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
- Ida B... and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster and (Possibly) Save the World by Katherine Hannigan
- Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath
- Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles
Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.