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Lucky Luis

Lucky Luis

by Gary Soto, Rhode Montijo

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At Little League, Luis is catching fly balls, stealing bases, and hitting like a champ. But there is a problem: he thinks he's getting good luck from the snacks he samples at the supermarket before every game. Then one day his mom goes directly to the field and he has a horrible practice. The day she skips the stop at the store before a game, he strikes out twice.


At Little League, Luis is catching fly balls, stealing bases, and hitting like a champ. But there is a problem: he thinks he's getting good luck from the snacks he samples at the supermarket before every game. Then one day his mom goes directly to the field and he has a horrible practice. The day she skips the stop at the store before a game, he strikes out twice.

Luckily, Luis's father understands and convinces him that practice and concentration matter much more than any superstition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From growing beards to wearing lucky socks, athletes’ superstitions can be unusual, and that’s certainly true of Luis, a rabbit who scoffs at the traditions his father had when he used to play (such as turning his belt to the side). But skeptical though he is, Luis comes to believe that his Little League success depends upon his eating a free sample at the grocery store before every practice or game—a unique superstition if ever there was one. Montijo’s canvas-textured acrylics create a cozy world shared by animals of different species (including a goat umpire and pig shoppers). Soto includes occasional Spanish words and phrases (they are not always translated, though most are common enough), as Luis learns that determination and hard work are more important than luck. Ages 3–5. Agent: Kendra Marcus, Bookstop Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Nervous about Little League tryouts, Luis listens to his dad's stories about superstitious rituals from his own baseball days: one super-slugger teammate never changed his lucky socks all season, and Luis's own Papi wore his belt buckle on the lucky side of his hip. So when Luis shines during the tryouts after first eating a "tryout" (free sample) at the market, he decides that eating "tryouts" is the secret to his strong showing. Sure enough, when he isn't able to get free samples later in the season, his streak of success comes to an abrupt end. Finally, during the championship game, he takes his father's advice that playing well is not about luck, but about "practice and listening to your coach." Young baseball fans should empathize with Luis's triumphs and tribulations and enjoy the warmth of the father-son relationship Soto creates for Luis and Papi. But the real lesson Luis needs to learn appears to be that he plays well when he believes in himself—as he did early in the season when he nibbled his "tryouts"—and plays poorly when he begins to have self-doubt. It's confidence, rather than practice, that seems to make the real difference here. Soto's engaging story is accompanied by illustrations depicting the characters as cartoonish, anthropomorphized rabbits, which gives an odd reading to the line, "[Luis] struck out twice, and a fast grounder hopped like a rabbit right through his legs." Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Little Leaguer Luis is a bunny with a serious case of game-day superstitions. His secret ritual involves swinging by the local supermarket for "tryouts" of food before the opening pitch. He is paralyzed by performance anxiety when an elderly turtle gets the last chili-flavored breadstick sample, and he ends the game without a single hit. When Luis finally tells his father about his superstition, the elder rabbit, who had lucky behaviors of his own when he was young, explains that winning in baseball is "about practice and listening to your coach." Finally, with the support of his entire extended family cheering him on in the stands, and prevented by the coach from using his father's belt-buckle-shifted-to-the-side trick, Luis sends the ball "flying over the second baseman's arm." Sprinkled with Spanish words, this story attempts to bring a Hispanic flavor to a traditional baseball story but fails to flesh out the tale with real cultural details. If the intended message is that superstitions don't make a great ballplayer, the final belt maneuver by all the male relatives undoes that sentiment. Montijo's warm, summer-hued acrylic illustrations perfectly set the scene for a ballgame. The rabbit protagonists sport oversize ears and large round eyes, giving them a certain comedic flair, but also making the dramatic tension in the story line seem anything but serious. This lightly seasoned tale lacks heat and should be considered only as a supplemental purchase where baseball books are a guaranteed home run.—Jenna Boles, Washington-Centerville Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
A young Latino rabbit must overcome a snack-based superstition in this baseball-centered picture book. Luis, anxious about his Little League tryouts, is encouraged by his father, who reminisces about the strange things he and his fellow teammates did for luck. At the supermarket, Luis visits Mrs. Garza, the bear with the food samples he and the other kids call "tryouts." After enjoying his chorizo pizza, he manages to play well enough to make the team and stops for a sample on the way to the team's first practice. After another great performance, he connects his baseball abilities with his pre-practice supermarket snacking. Unfortunately, various forces keep Luis from his "tryouts," and his playing suffers. A couple of conversations with his father help him overcome his superstitious behavior in time for the big game, and he celebrates the victory with his extended family. Montijo's exuberant animal characters and bright acrylics will appeal to readers but may not be enough to make up for Soto's lackluster, wordy text. While baseball fans will be eager to enter Luis' world, others may find the abrupt scene changes jarring and the plot difficult to follow. The inclusion of Latino names and occasional Spanish words will make the book especially appealing to younger Latinos interested in the sport. The great illustrations would have benefited from simpler text. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
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Penguin Group
File size:
16 MB
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Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

Born in Fresno, California to Mexican American parents, Gary Soto learned the hard work ethic through his share of chores, including mowing lawns, picking grapes, painting house numbers on street curbs, and washing cars. His hard work paid off at California State University at Fresno, from which he graduated with an English degree, and later at the University of California at Irvine, where he earned a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

Gary Soto is an acclaimed poet, essayist, and fiction writer. The awards for this multi-talented author are many, ranging from the U.S. Award for International Poetry Forum in 1977 for his first published book of poetry, The Elements of San Joaquin, to a Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award in 1985 for Living Up the Street, his first published work of prose recollections. His short story collection Baseball in April, was named an American Library Association's Best Book for Young Adults. In 1993 Gary Soto received the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children's Video for Pool Party, and in 1995 he was nominated for a National Book Award.

His other credits include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the California Arts Council. Gary Soto is also one of the youngest poets to appear in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. Several of his books have been translated into French, Spanish and Italian.

Too Many Tamales was named a Booklist Books for Youth Editors' Choices of 1993. Hazel Rochman of Booklist said, "Gary Soto is an accomplished poet and adult writer, and his children's stories are widely popular. His first entry into the picture book genre is a joyful success."

When he is not writing, Mr. Soto serves as a volunteer English teacher at his church. He also enjoys eating at new restaurants, which he does often with his wife, Carolyn, and their daughter Mariko. Other members of the Soto household include their two cats, Corky and Sharkie. The Soto family resides in Berkeley, California.

copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

From the Hardcover edition.

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