cover image The Thing About Luck

The Thing About Luck

Cynthia Kadohata, illus. by Julia Kuo. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4169-1882-0

Sharp characterizations and descriptive details about modern farming invigorate Newbery Medalist Kadohata’s (Kira-Kira) funny and warm story about the Japanese-American daughter of migrant workers. Twelve-year-old Summer’s family has suffered a year of bad luck that included Summer’s near-fatal contraction of malaria and her parents’ departure to Japan to be with ailing relatives. In order to make ends meet, Summer’s grandparents come out of retirement to work for custom harvesters, which requires them to travel throughout the Midwest. Taking time off from school to accompany them, Summer reflects on her paranoia about mosquitoes, her lonely younger brother’s inability to make friends, and her annoyance at her sharp-tongued grandmother. During a time of crisis, however, Summer must set her concerns aside to rise to a challenge. Lively dialogue and a succinct narrative laced with humor effectively convey Summer’s emotions, observations, and courage. Readers will relate to her uncertainties and admire both her compassion and her work ethic. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 10–14. Author’s agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. Illustrator’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (June)