Something about doing 8 presentations in 2 days, a time change and a long plane ride home always leaves me feeling a bit woozy. But my head is clear enough this morning to tell you about a quiet and utterly delightful book I read on the plane ride home, Orwell’s Luck, by Richard Jennings. I first met Richard a few years ago; he’s a quiet man with impeccable Southern manners and three daschunds who run his household. His affinity for animals is clear in Orwell’s Luck.
There are two odd things about this book: none of the two key kid characters are named, and the chapters simply flow one into the other. But neither of these things will be obstacles to your thoroughly enjoying this story.
A twelve-year-old girl relies on horoscopes to help her navigate the confusing world of junior high life. One day as she retrieves the morning paper, she finds an injured wild rabbit — a cottontail — on her lawn. The rabbit is not given much hope for survival by the adults in her household, but the girl takes him and tenderly cares for him. As he heals, she is certain that he is somehow using the horoscopes to communicate with her. His messages encourage her to think about others — one says, “Your mother needs help around the house;” another says, “Your sister wants you for a friend” — and to reach out a bit to the world, especially to one tousle-haired boy.
What I loved about this book is that it’s not about anything big — and yet it’s about things that are terrifically important. I also loved that the two preteens don’t get an “A” when they do a rather unusual science fair project about Orwell; in fact, they get a “D.” It’s great to see them deal with this disappointment together and chalk it up to experience. That’s not something we see often in kids’ books.
With the quiet sweetness of the Penderwicks, this book would be a great choice for those more competent younger readers who aren’t ready for the sophistication of “older” books — it’s also perfect for anyone who wants to read something that makes them feel good and hopeful.