This week, I had the privilege of reviewing Lucky Phoo by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon. Gotta admit, from the start, that this is outside my usual “book review” venue, having a son and a serious Paranormal Romance bent for myself. However, given that I read the posters in the chiropractor’s office, I’m up for reading anything that doesn’t run away on me, and even better if it’s actually a book!
Before I get too far into this, I ought to state that I was given a copy of this book for review purposes, though all opinions remain my own – and honest, to boot. Now. I had several different thoughts with respect to the story, but I thought I’d lead with Mad Natter’s preferences. I had planned to read the story with him, and we’d do a whole book review thing together. We got through chapter three, however, and Mad Natter told me, “I love it . . . but I’m out of Phoo space in my brain territory.” I’m still scratching my head over that one. It seems he enjoys Lucky Phoo as a bedtime story, and as a means to postpone things he doesn’t want to do, but he doesn’t want to interrupt things he wants to do for reading. Okay, that seems to be the case with pretty much any book and Mad Natter.
As for my own reviewing, I’m going to revert to something a little more my style. I took notes. I’m not using them heavily, but I took them. Lucky Phoo is the story of three seventh grade girls who all go in together to foster a stray dog. The dog, it turns out, is like a good luck charm for them, and the story goes into the myriad ways this goes wrong when you have three girls all needing good luck at one time.
For the general market, I would say this book is written very like other tween/teen series books – it strikes me as very Baby Sitters Club, and while it is appropriate for its intended audience, it has the hallmark of not reading with dialogue very like the intended audience–it tries to straddle the line between realism and parental approval, and as is often the case in this level of reader, errs on the side of parental approval. I would, actually, recommend Lucky Phoo as a summertime read for its marketed audience–roughly grades 3-8. It’s cute, it focuses on teamwork, trusting your friends, and remembering that not only is nobody perfect, sometimes an “I’m sorry” is really both the easiest and the most difficult thing to do.
However, that’s not really why we’re here. We’re here for an honest appraisal from a gifted perspective.
Lucky Phoo was an easy read, text-level wise, for Mad Natter at six-and-three-quarters (heavens forfend you forget the fraction). The interest level and the readability both seem to be more of a K-2 rather than 3-8, despite the whole setup of one of the girls going on a (off-page) date. The dialogue seems to be juvenile as well, though this will again be part of having a child who uses “extrusion” appropriately at five. One of the characters had younger brothers who were five-year-old twins. They were much unlike anything I’ve seen over the age of two or three. I’m actually glad Mad Natter stopped before we got to the twins, largely because I’m afraid of what exception he might have taken to children his own age being portrayed as they were – like, I would assume, average five-year-olds.
Overall, I would suggest Lucky Phoo for a read-aloud at K, a read-alone by grade 3, and a note that this would be definitively recreational reading. That is not a bad thing by any stretch, recreational reading is hugely important, but this is not going to go on the list with “Peter Pan” or “Alice In Wonderland,” and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it seemed important to say. I would suggest it to be a below-grade-level fun read, and it would be marvelous at that!
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