The Lucky Star

The Lucky Star

by Judy Young, Chris Ellison

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In 1933, facing the hardships of the Great Depression, Ruth learns to follow her mother's example and count her lucky stars when she turns her disappointment over not being able to attend fourth grade into a blessing for her younger sister.

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In 1933, facing the hardships of the Great Depression, Ruth learns to follow her mother's example and count her lucky stars when she turns her disappointment over not being able to attend fourth grade into a blessing for her younger sister.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
Ruth's mother is an enduring optimist. She is always counting her lucky stars and expressing gratitude for whatever she has. She does not have much in the way of material things. Set in 1933, Ruth's family is feeling the full effects of the Great Depression. Her dad has lost his job at the local lumberyard and has taken work with The Civilian Conservation Corps many miles away, and Ruth's mother has started working during the day. Worst of all, the community can no longer keep the school open. Ruth is sad that she will not be going to fifth grade in the fall. But even worse, her younger sister will not be starting first grade and she does not know how to read. Ruth finds a solution. She will teach Janie and her young friends to read. There is no money for paper or pencils, so Ruth uses the flour-covered surface of the table after the morning biscuits have been baked. And she reads to the children from the family's Book of Knowledge. Each day she closes her lessons with a picture of the black sky filled with twinkling stars and reminds her young students to "Count your lucky stars." Softly colored pastel illustrations depict scenes in the present tense while pictures in sepia tones show remembered scenes from the past. A useful historical piece. Part of the "Tales of Young Americans" series. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4- It is 1933, and Ruth is feeling the effects of the Great Depression. Her father has a job with the Civilian Conservation Corps, but it takes him hundreds of miles from home. With her mother also working and the school closed because the town cannot afford to hire a teacher and heat the building, she is pessimistic about the future for herself and her younger sister, Janie. Their mother is a constant source of optimism, telling the nine-year-old, "We don't have much but remember, there's always someone who is worse off than you are. So count your lucky stars that you've got what you've got." Then one morning Ruth decides that she will instruct the younger children in the neighborhood. She teaches them their letters by writing in leftover biscuit flour and uses pebbles to illustrate basic math. An author's note provides historical context about the Depression while the story itself concentrates on the human elements. The illustrations reflect the family's love and warmth. Rich, vibrant colors light the home and the surrounding countryside. Pinks, blues, and yellows are repeated in the characters' clothing and the flowers in the garden. Sepia-toned images are used for flashbacks when Ruth considers previous events. This title succeeds in capturing a particular time period as well as in delivering a timeless message.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

Kirkus Reviews
Counting "lucky stars" isn't easy when you own the world's ugliest hand-me-down shoes, your school has closed and your dad is permanently out of town. Ruth, nine, wants to pursue her dream of education, but how can she do that during the Great Depression? With her mother's encouragement ("Momma's sky was full of [lucky] stars") in her ears, she sees how she can make a difference. There is no money for books, paper and pencils, but after the daily biscuits are made, Ruth sees the scrim of flour left on the table as a blackboard and she uses it to teach her little sister Janie and the other younger children in the community to read and write. The gentle text and soft illustrations caress the subject yet never go deep. Young's positive, feel-good story succeeds in showing how applying a good attitude and creativity will make life shine brighter than a lucky star, but an overlong text and bland, pastel illustrations that fail to create a strong sense of period weaken the book's effectiveness. (Picture book. 5-8)

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Product Details

Gale Cengage Learning
Publication date:
Tales of Young Americans
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
AD780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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