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The Lucky Star

By Judy Young; illustrated by Chris Ellison
Sleeping Bear Press

310 North Main St., Ste 300
Chelsea, MI 48118

Ten-year-old Ruth has it tough--there's no doubt about it. During the economic disaster of the Great Depression in 1933, life looks pretty dark, at least to Ruth. But her momma still finds ways to count her blessings (lucky stars): Ruth has new shoes, and Poppa has found a new job. But Ruth's "new" shoes are hand-me-downs, and Poppa's job takes him far from home. And worse, the town cannot afford to keep the school open. Ruth is devastated. She wants so badly to go into the fourth grade. How can Ruth "count her lucky stars" in the face of so many bad things happening?

But when Ruth stops dwelling on own problems and begins to think of others, she discovers that being a "lucky star" to someone else is the best way to start seeing her own "lucky stars."

The Lucky Star tells a poignant story of a family struggling to survive during the depression of the 1930s. This 40-page, hardcover book for ages 6-10 is part of the Tales of Young Americans Series--books that feature fictional kids in real-life settings from our nation's past. With illustrations carefully done to represent the time period, and a heart-touching story of children living through hard times, The Lucky Star is a welcome addition to this series.

The one disappointment I found (and with a secular press, what did I expect?) was the constant reference to "counting your lucky stars" rather than giving thanks to the true source of contentment and the good things of life-God. You could discuss this phrase and its meaning with your child and ultimately bring the conversation around to talking about our real caregiver.

An added bonus, and one I appreciate as a homeschooling parent, is the free pdf file "Teacher's Guide" that Sleeping Bear Press provides on their website:

The download for The Lucky Star includes 24 pages of creative activity sheets for varying grade levels. I found subjects like spelling, math, and creative writing, and simple projects like going outside on a clear night and drawing a star group. These would be great additions to a unit study on the Great Depression.

I recommend this delightful book and curriculum activities for your homeschool, in spite of the "lucky stars" references. I would also recommend checking out the other titles from the Tales of Young Americans Series.

Product review by Susan K. Marlow, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, August 2008

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