Lord, Cynthia. Half a Chance
February 25th 2014
by Scholastic Press
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Lucy's father is a photographer who suffers from Pa Ingalls Syndrome-- he doesn't like to stay in one place for very long, so he leaves Lucy and her mother in New Hampshire while he flies off to Arizona to shoot pictures of endangered bugs. Lucy manages missing her father by taking pictures of her own. When she meets Nate, she is glad to have a friend (the girls she meets are a little snotty), and is glad when his grandmother invites her to be on Loon Patrol and keep notes on the endangered loons indigenous to the area. The grandmother is having some memory issues that Nate's family is dealing with, the loons are not doing as well as hoped, and Lucy has decided to enter a photography contest her dad will be judging when he returns home. Lucy realizes that while this is not expressly against the rules, her father would be reluctant to choose her as the winner, so she sends the pictures off under Nate's name. Lucy and Nate want to win the contest because the prize is $500, and they want to take Nate's grandmother out on a pontoon boat for one last trip to see the loons. While she means well, some of Lucy's plans don't turn out as well as she would like, but others turn out fairly well.
Strengths: This had some good, bittersweet moments-- summer, friends, losing a grandparent slowly, missing a parent who is not at home. Also, a nice sense of place, and the issue with the loons was interesting. Even Lucy's obsession with photographing everything is done realistically, and in the end she does realize that she doesn't need to observe her entire life through a lens.
Weaknesses: This is very slow and very introspective, and seems like the sort of book that teachers and librarians will like way more than students will. The nice part about this is that if teachers read this book TO their classes enthusiastically, the students will catch the enthusiasm. This explains why books like Wonder and Hound Dog True occasionally get checked out even though they are not something students would actually ask for.