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HALF A CHANCE
New York : Scholastic, 2014
IL 3-6, RL 4.3
When you take pictures do you just point and shoot? Do you frame your picture? Do you consider the “story” the photo will tell?
Lucy’s family has just moved into a year round home on a lake in New Hampshire, her third move in her twelve years. Lucy’s Dad, a famous photographer, never stays in one place too long, and truth to tell he will be taking off within a day for a summer long assignment in Arizona leaving Lucy and her Mom to sort out the move and settle into this new life. Even before unpacking her first box Lucy is driven to grab her own camera and, with her dog Ansel (after Ansel Adams), “capture a first New Hampshire photo, so that in time she will feel the relief and comfort of looking back at this first one and remember how brave and scary everything was then, and realize she ‘made it’ once again. Like creating a memory in reverse.”
Memory and photography intertwine in the telling of this story.
Very quickly, Lucy meets Nate, the boy next door, and his family who are summer residents in the cottage owned by his Grandma Lilah. Grandma Lilah is passionate about participating with the Loon Preservation Society’s annual egg count and hatchings. However, she can no longer manage daily kayaking to the loon nesting island and enlists the help of Nate, his sister, and “Lucy of the Loons” as she dubs Lucy on her first venture. Sometimes another neighbor Megan, who sees Lucy as a rival, participates as well. As you will discover, Grandma Lilah is having more trouble managing other things as well this summer.
Through a desire to help Grandma Lilah and a secret longing to have her photography skills measure up to her father’s highly demanding standards, Lucy, with Nate’s interest and help, work to gather samples for a Photo Scavenger Hunt run by a magazine, nine photos reflecting a creative approach to nine words or phrases. Ethical issues arise when Lucy has to enter the contest under Nate’s name since her father is one of the contest judges. But even more difficult ethical, friendship, and creative choice issues arise over the use or non-use of a particular photo of Grandma Lilah that “reveals a story, show me why I care?” but one that Nate cares too much to want to see.
(Kathleen Fencil, NH Great Stone Face Committee, 2015)