Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Lucky Star

The Lucky Star

Judy Young
Illustrator:  Chris Ellison 
Historical Fiction Picture Book  Series
For ages 8 to 12
Sleeping Bear Press, 2008   ISBN: 978-1585363483

Ruth and her family are living in a very dark time in America's history. The Great Depression is making life miserable for millions of people, and it is hard to see that there still are good things in life. Ruth cannot see these good things, but her mother sees "lucky stars" all the time. For her there are so many things to be grateful for. Ruth, however, can only think about the fact that her hand-me-down shoes look terrible, and that she won't be able to go into fifth grade because her school is closed due to a lack of funds.

Ruth loves school and will sorely miss it. Her mother suggests that Ruth should study her Books of Knowledge until school opens again. Ruth won the set of books in a school spelling bee, and her family is enormously proud of her for her academic achievements. Ruth wonders how she will ever be able to learn anything without a teacher. How will her little sister Janie learn how to read if she cannot go to school?

Ruth's mother will not be able to teach Janie because she never learned how to read or write, and Ruth's father is away from home working with the Civilian Conservation Corps. This is another reason why Ruth cannot see any lucky stars. She misses her father, and his absence makes everything seem even grimmer. Will she ever find a lucky star of her own?

This very moving and powerful book beautifully captures the problems that people experienced on a daily basis during the Great Depression. With great care the author includes all kinds of details that help the young reader get a sense of what it was like to live in America in the 1930's when school closed, jobs were lost, and when children had to look long and hard to find "lucky stars." Though this story is sad at times, readers will find that the tale is also full of hope.

This is one of the titles in the Tales of Young Americans series. All the books in this collection look at notable moments in America's history, exploring the lives of children who lived during those times.