Fighting. Friends. Fitting in: The Luck of Jude by Andrew Larsen

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…

OLA Superconference 2011

my swag
Just a small sample of the free swag I took home!


I arrived at Superconference 2011 excited and eager to begin my day! It was my first time attending the conference, and as a new librarian I had heard such great things from colleagues.

The first session I attended was called ‘Wired For Fun: An introduction to online gaming’. I choose this session as my library is currently trying to figure out how to effectively make use of our brand-new Wii. So far, I have organized a Wii Tournament over March Break, but I would eventually like to incorporate the technology into regular use.

I know that some library systems were encouraging participants to leave sessions that were not useful or interesting to them, but I found latecomers (and there were plenty!) very distracting.  Besides that slight annoyance, I found the actual session useful. I thought some of the slides were quite text heavy and the fonts were sometimes hard to read, but the presenter had told us that taking notes were not necessary as the presentation would be available online.  Since I am not a ‘gamer’, a review on the types of games available (racing type games remain #1) and actual game title recommendations proved valuable. I was also pleased to hear that the Wii is the most utilized game console for library systems.   During this session, I was given homework: to understand what MMORPG’s are all about. If you knew that MMORPG’s stand for Massively, Multiplayer, Online, Role-Playing Games, then I am impressed. You probably have some mad gaming skills, and like millions of others play games like Second Life or World of Warcraft.  I’m just fine playing my Nintendo Duck Hunt, but figure I should probably know what all my teens are talking about.

After the session, I explored the EXPO. I was happy to see a familiar face, author Sharon McKay signing books (she had visited our library just months prior).  I knew Franklin’s author/illustrator, Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark would be attending so I found our copies of Franklin in the Dark and had them signed. I also able to talk to various library vendors and walked away with very heavy armfuls of great library swag, including free signed copies of books!

I then met two of my MLIS colleagues at Joe Badali’s (yum!) and returned for the Child & Youth Expo. Like many others, I too was disappointed with the lack of YA offerings, and really wish I could have attended the CLASY event a couple of weeks ago. Of what was available, my favourite poster session was Caledon Public Library’s postcard program that provided children/youth the opportunity to exchange postcards with others from around the world. Overall, I was pleased to see plenty of smaller systems (like mine) showcased and not just the bigger systems. 

At the end of the day, my favourite session was ‘Library 2 Library’. The presenters from Oshawa and Cambridge P.L. were so enthusiastic about what they’re doing that it was inspiring! Reaching out to schools and building community relationships is important, so any tips to improve such relationships are very much welcomed. In fact, I just had a local school visit this morning, and was able to incorporate some of the presenter’s ideas to get the classes back in the library. I can’t wait to get my hands on their Powerpoint and review their success stories and advice!  

Although I only attended Friday’s sessions, I was able to follow OLA happenings via Twitter. Lots of participants were tweeting about OLA not providing free WIFI,  the many authors signing books, great sessions, free swag and the Orpheus choir flash mob. To search for more Twitter OLA tweets, search #SC2011. Also, click here to view some pictures of OLA on Flickr! Wherever I may be next year, I hope I will be able to attend OLA 2012.

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