At the recent OLA conference, I saw a large line-up to grab a free ARC (advanced reading copy) for Andrew Larsen’s ‘The Luck of Jude’. To my surprise, he was also there to speak to individuals and sign the book. Although we only had a minute, I was able to quickly tell him about a unique program my library offers—a book club for fathers and sons. The content of the book follows a boy in grade four, and I knew this would be an excellent novel for my boys to read (grade three and four). Larsen was impressed with the idea, and signed ‘Good Luck!’ in my copy!
Although The Luck of Jude is a short chapter book (106 pages), it manages to tell an interesting story of grade four student, Jude (yes, named after the Beatles song). The ‘Luck of Jude’ comes from being hit on a head by a chestnut. His friend informs him that being hit in the head by a chestnut means good luck. She then teaches him the game Conkers (attach a string to a chestnut and battle against player to destroy their chestnut). Jude is able to use his new love of the game to relate to the new student in his class.
What I liked about the book:
1) Throughout the story, the reader learns how much Jude loves lists (as do I). Larsen starts each chapter with a list. For example: Things that help me fall asleep, or Things that bug me about my dad. These lists are great for grabbing the reader’s attention, and adding visual interest.
2) It oozes Toronto content–from listing the local parks, to poking fun of Toronto’s beloved Leafs, Larsen makes it known that he is Canadian.
3) Jude’s Nani (grandma). She teaches Jude to see beyond differences and be a friend. It is an important lesson for all individuals to learn.
4) Even though I didn’t particularly like the amount of blood and fighting, I liked how Larsen redeemed himself when Jude doesn’t resort to violence after being punched in the face. Hopefully young readers will also realize that violence is not the answer.
5) I know reluctant readers will love the content. It’s all about fighting, friends and fitting in. Larsen is able to include all of these aspects in the short, quick read.
-Violence, and a couple of references to ‘ass’ and ‘idiot’.
-After reading this story, I know many kids would love to try playing Conkers. However, it can be a dangerous game! In the past, schools in fear of legal consequences have actually banned the game. I just hope the book doesn’t cause any problems for the local school boards…