Because You're Lucky

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Sue Reichard
Michael Hayes's illustrations are a beautiful accompaniment to the text of this heart-warming story about a young boy, Kevin, who finds himself moving in with relatives he does not know. Jonathan and his sister must now share bedrooms, clothing and food with their new family member. Nothing is the same, but Kevin is not going away. Jonathan's mother tells him, "Kevin is here because you're lucky." Jonathan comes to understand his mother's words through change and growth in his family.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3A warm, realistic story about an African-American family. When Kevin comes to live at his cousin Jonathan's house, Jonathan is resentful of all the things he has to sharehis room, his clothes, his mother, even his school. Jonathan excels in school and chess, while Kevin struggles with reading but likes sports and action figures. Gradually the boys begin to form a friendship by sharing their interests, and soon realize that there is room in the house for both of them. Children who have been in either Kevin or Jonathan's place will identify with the youngsters. The dialogue lacks the sparkle of Smalls's Irene and the Big, Fine Nickel (Little, Brown, 1991), but the text flows smoothly and works perfectly with the well-executed paintings, done primarily in soft blues, greens, and yellows. The relationship between the boys is convincing, although Kevin's relentlessly upbeat attitude is not entirely believable given that he arrived "without a toothbrush or a toy...without a mommy or a daddy." The most surprising aspect of the story is that the details of Kevin's background are never revealed, leaving readers to wonder what chain of events led him to Jonathan's door. Children will inevitably be curious about these details, and may feel confused by the lack of information. Nevertheless, they will take comfort in the story's overall messages of love, acceptance, and togetherness.Dawn Amsberry, Oakland Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Jonathan's family must learn to adjust when orphaned cousin Kevin comes to live with them. At first Jonathan feels put out and jealoushe must share his clothes and room with Kevin; at school, the other students take to Kevin's friendliness instantly. When Jonathan asks, "How come I have to share my clothes? How come he gets to sleep in my bunk bed?" his mother answers, "Because you're lucky. You have a home, a family, so many things and so much love." After the boys fight, Kevin moves into the guest room (which wasn't mentioned as an option before) and they find they miss each other, eventually becoming inseparable. The story is well-intentioned, and Smalls's heart is in the right placebut the entire venture is stiff with lessons. Jonathan's mother offers textbook reassurances, but her perspective often overwhelms her son's. A teenage sister, Dawn, disappears after two pages, right after she and Jonathan have expressed, openly and without real parental comment, their dislike of Kevin. Hays's illustrations are colorful but static, adding to the atmosphere of bibliotherapy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316764254
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.16 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Irene Smalls is the author of Jonathan and His Mommy and Kevin and His Dad, as well as several other picture books. She is a graduate of Cornell University and has an M.B.A. from New York University.

Michael Hays is the illustrator of several children's books, including two other picture books by Irene Smalls. He is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and lives in Chicago, Illinois.
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