Thank You, Lucky Stars

Thank You, Lucky Stars

4.1 9
by Beverly Donofrio

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It’s the first day of fifth grade, and Ally is psyched. She and her best friend, Betsy, are in the same class, and have already planned on singing in the annual talent show together. But it’s not long before she sees that Betsy has made a new best friend, and Ally is no longer on her radar screen. Not to mention that the weird new kid, Tina, has


It’s the first day of fifth grade, and Ally is psyched. She and her best friend, Betsy, are in the same class, and have already planned on singing in the annual talent show together. But it’s not long before she sees that Betsy has made a new best friend, and Ally is no longer on her radar screen. Not to mention that the weird new kid, Tina, has glommed on to Ally. In this phenomenally accurate and readable portrayal of the trials and tribulations of fifth grade, readers will watch a quirky, sensitive, and extraordinarily likeable girl try to survive. Narrated in Ally’s distinctive first person voice, Thank You, Lucky Stars beautifully illustrates that it is possible to be unpopular, individualistic, nice, and still have fun.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Adults hoping to share their own enthusiasm for Donofrio (Riding in Cars with Boys) with younger readers may not get what they want from the author's first work for children. The story line is classic: narrator Ally starts fifth grade only to discover that her best (and only) friend, Betsy, has ditched her for the girl they both loved to loathe. Enter the kooky new girl who glues herself to Ally, a low-level class bully to bother them and two other outcasts to befriend them, and then throw in a school talent show (in which, despite the contemporary setting, everyone wants to sing Simon and Garfunkel or Beatles songs, or disco-dance. Unfortunately, Donofrio succeeds too well in building Ally's class-reject personality: her inability to read Betsy's social cues might invite some sympathy, but her manner and style (inserting "Thank you, Lucky Stars," as an expression of gratitude, an uncontrollable penchant for a dance move she calls the "heebie-jeebie") come across as immature, detracting from an otherwise personable narrative and jeopardizing the bond that readers may form with her. New girl Tina's gratingly over-the-top behavior is explained by the gradual, realistically rendered disclosure that her mother is bipolar and off her meds, while Ally turns out to have a sibling who died before Ally's birth, a circumstance that never fully dovetails with Ally's family dynamics. The ending, neat and feel-good, seems wishful and out of sync with the lifelike portrayals that precede it. Ages 9-12. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 9 to 12.

Ally is very excited for fifth grade to begin, especially because she will be in the same class as her best friend Betsy. She leaves her house wearing the outfit she and Betsy agreed upon, but Betsy is not wearing the same outfit! Instead, she matches Ally's arch-enemy Mona. Things only get worse when they arrive at school, where the only person who seems to want Ally for a friend is a strange new girl named Tina. Tina ignores Ally's rebuffs but eventually Ally learns what a great person Tina is. They start planning a talent show act, but when Betsy approaches Ally to ask if she will join her and Mona, Ally has some hard decisions to make. Then there is Tina's mother, who seems to act stranger every time Ally sees her. While this book is a fun, fluffy read on the surface, it does touch upon some deeper issues, such as a parent with mental illness. These issues may be glossed over a bit, but then the main story revolves around Ally learning about different types of friendship, and that plot is very interesting and realistic. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck

School Library Journal

Gr 4-6- Ally's plans for fifth grade are falling apart. On the first day of school her best friend, Betsy, deserts her for popular, fabulous Mona. Now Ally won't be able to perform "Bridge over Troubled Water" with her in the talent show. Then along comes Tina, the new girl. Most kids think she's completely bizarre, as her clothes and hair are weird and she doesn't seem to care about the opinions of others. To her surprise, Ally gets along with Tina and finds a comfortable place with the socially awkward, nonjudgmental, smart kids at school. Predictably, in the end, she must choose between the cool kids and her newfound friends. This is an enjoyable read, and many girls will see themselves in the protagonist. However, many recent books feature quirky female characters, and this one struggles to stay with the pack. Ally makes references to Princess Leia, disco, and Simon and Garfunkel, which could make it challenging for readers to ascertain the story's time frame. Although her antics are entertaining, Tina's aloofness may distance readers from her struggles with her bipolar mother. The story is sweet, but the eccentric girls in Linda Urban's A Crooked Kind of Perfect (Harcourt) and Lauren Tarshis's Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell out of a Tree (Dial, both 2007) are better developed characters.-Laura Lutz, Queens Borough Public Library, NY

Kirkus Reviews
A predictable plot, vague setting and characters that never quite come to life all weaken this tween saga of broken friendships and personal growth. The story arc sounds achingly familiar: Fifth-grader Ally is dumped by her best friend on the first day of school. Since Betsy was her only friend (readers aren't quite sure why), Ally is now lonely and vulnerable. She forges a friendship, somewhat unwillingly, with Tina, the new girl in town. A quirky iconoclast, Tina doesn't notice-or seem to care-whether or not she fits in. Ally, though, still yearns to belong, so her decision to abandon Tina when offered the chance to join members of the in-crowd in a talent show comes as no surprise. Also unsurprising is Ally's subsequent recognition of Tina's loyalty and their reconciliation. Unfortunately for Ally, Tina will probably garner more interest and sympathy from most readers. Ally, even with her unlikely fascination with disco dancing and breathless first-person narration, just can't compete. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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864 KB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I could hardly believe it was here: the First Day of Fifth Grade. The sun was shining through my window, birds sang a hallelujah chorus, and I could feel a case of the heebie-jeebies coming on. That’s when my whole body tickles and I jerk around like I’ve just heard the funniest joke in the world. I even made up a poem.

The fifth grade is Too great To even contemplate.

Thank you, Lucky Stars, my best friend, Betsy, and I would be in the same class—for the first time ever. And the event I’d been looking forward to since kindergarten would finally happen—Betsy Jane O’Malley and me, Ally Theresa Miller, would star in the Annual Fifth-Grade Talent Show. We were going to sing “Bridge over Troubled Water,” and I was counting on getting a standing ovation.

I leapt onto my bed and heebie-jeebied, careful not to bounce too loudly because if my mother caught me she’d act like I’d just set fire to the whole state of New Jersey.

Just then my mom called, “Hurry up, Ally! You don’t want to be late,” so I jumped down and put on my new pink leggings and butterfly jersey. Betsy had the exact same outfit, and we were wearing them together for the first day. First days are the best. Everything is new. Besides your clothes, there’s the new teacher, your books, the classroom and where you sit. Everything begins all over, fresh—nothing is ruined yet.

Before I ran to breakfast, I brushed my hair into a ponytail and fastened it with my new rhinestone clip. The clip was identical to Betsy’s, of course. Both Betsy and I have honey-brown hair and blue eyes. My hair is thicker and wavy, kind of like a horse’s tail, plus I’m taller and skinnier than Betsy. But we’re so alike that I figured as soon as our teacher, Mrs. Joy, saw us, she’d probably say, “Are you two twins?” I had a feeling I’d be Mrs. Joy’s pet. I’d collect everyone’s homework and be the one chosen to answer the principal’s phone during lunch on the days her secretary went home early.

I hoped I’d like Mrs. Joy as much as I’d liked Ms. Brady, my favorite teacher, from the third grade. Ms. Brady moved to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where she said deer walk right up to your porch.

We live in New Jersey. There is such a thing as Jersey cows, which I think are supposed to come from here. But if a cow walked up to somebody’s porch on my block, Mr. Winters would probably just shoot it like he shoots those poor pigeons for sitting on his drainpipe.

I gobbled down my breakfast, called out, “Bye, guys!” to my parents, and ran all the way to the bus stop.

As soon as I got there, that pest Artie Kaminsky, who has annoyed me since the first grade, called out, “Here comes Ally-oop, the Poop.”

When Artie acts like a two-year-old and chases me with worms, I run away. When he calls me dumb names, I ignore him. So instead of shouting, “Shut up, you turd ball!” I pretended I’d just had an operation on my eardrums and couldn’t hear a word he’d said. I stared up the hill at Betsy’s house, wishing she’d hurry up.

When I saw her walk over in a jeans skirt instead of our outfit, my jaw dropped to the sidewalk. “Why are you wearing that?” I practically yelled. I didn’t even say hi.

“Wanted to.” She shrugged, then smiled at someone behind me.

I heard “Hey, Bets,” and turned to see Mona Montagne, our sworn enemy, wearing the same skirt.

“I can’t believe you!” My heart was hammering so hard you could probably have seen it through my shirt. “You promised.”

“I didn’t promise. You’re such an exaggerator.” Betsy rolled her eyes at Mona, who rolled her eyes back.

Betsy and I had been enemies with Mona since she’d moved onto our road in kindergarten. But this summer, coincidentally, their families had rented beach houses just three doors away from each other. When Betsy got back, I’d called and invited her to walk to Lala’s Market with me, and on the way I’d asked her about the beach. “Did you guys hang out?”

Betsy had shrugged. “A little.”

“What’d you do?”

“Nothing. Forget about it.”

“Are you going to be friends with her now?”

“I told you, forget it.”

“So you like her?” I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, but Betsy kept on walking.

“Don’t make such a big deal about it,” she said.

“So why won’t you answer my question?” I caught up to her.

“You never know when to give up. You exaggerate everything.”

We’d bought Jolly Ranchers, and on our way home, I tried to stop being mad by telling her about the awesome thunderstorm we’d had while she was gone. Lightning had struck a telephone pole on our road and electri- cal wires had whipped in the wind like sparklers. The electricity had gone out, and all along the street we could see houses flickering inside, all lit up from candles. At her door, Betsy had said, “Wow, I wish I’d been here,” and I thought everything was back to normal.

But now everything was the opposite of normal. Betsy was friends with Mona.

I pictured them at the beach, walking to the end of a long jetty, then sitting on a rock above the waves, their families in a circle toasting marshmallows around a bonfire, singing “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore.” My family never went on vacations. My parents only liked cruises by themselves. Mona’s and Betsy’s parents were young. Mine were as old as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I know you’re not supposed to wish bad things on people, but if Mona Montagne had tripped at the bus stop and then fallen off the earth, I would have done an Irish jig.

When she and Betsy started whispering, I lost it. I pretended to sneeze and covered my face with my hands. I would have died if they caught me crying.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Beverly Donofrio is the author of Riding in Cars with Boys, which was made into a film starring Drew Barrymore. She has written essays for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Marie Claire, and was a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered. In addition, she is the author of the picture book Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary. She lives in Mexico.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Thank You, Lucky Stars 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has the worst plot in the history of plots!!! I wish i could give it 0 stars!!I hated the book!! Dont waste your money on it. This was the first and LAST of Beaverly Donofrio's books I will read.
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Tess Varley More than 1 year ago
good book i quesss. :)