In Fortune Falls jade costs more than diamonds and so do four-leaf clovers, horseshoes and rabbits' feet. Birthday wishes should not be wasted and the child care center is called Pot-of-Gold.
Luck - good and bad - this is an elusive thing. Don't step on a crack, don't walk under a ladder, look for four leaf clovers and of course an apple a day will keep the doctor away.
All of these ideas about staying lucky are included in Fortune Falls and I did enjoy this premise. The idea that your propensity to good luck or bad luck could determine your future path in life was also a good one but could have been explored in a little more depth especially the final idea - the one that the story had hinted at all along - that we make our own luck by our attitude.
In Fortune Falls every life incident is attributed to luck. Sadie seems to be plagued by bad luck and her brand of bad luck has been catastrophic for the family perhaps causing the death of her father when is path is crossed by a black cat.
Sadie is about to turn twelve and inauspiciously this will happen on a Friday and yes the date of her birthday is the 13th. When students turn 12 they have to participate in a Spring Luck Test. This takes them from Undetermined to either Lucky or Unlucky and then determines which school they can attend.
The description of life for Unluckies is quite telling :
"I remembered Dad taking me on a trip downtown ... 'These are the luckless that have given up.' We drove by windows that had been broken out with baseball bats, ... On the streets were people with unkempt hair and beards and expressionless faces. The worst were those staring off into space as they sat immobile on curbs or behind blowing curtains,"
The actual Spring Luck Test was intriguing. The school hall is set up with a number of games of chance - a roulette spinner, a dice game and a ball drop game. You might be able to use this scene with a class and make connections with the maths strand of chance and data.
The Spelling Bee is also a chapter that could be used with a class if you are preparing for a bee at school. Compare Sadie's words with those given to the lucky but awful Felicia.
Fans of books about dogs will also enjoy Fortune Falls. Sadie has a very special dog :
"Wink makes people feel uncomfortable. She makes them especially uncomfortable when her missing eye takes them by surprise. I'll be taking Wink for a walk and someone will come up to her at just the right angle, but when she turns to greet the person - her tail wagging so hard it shakes her entire backside - giving whoever it is a full view of her one-eyed, pirate-y face, the stranger usually flips."
Here is a detailed review which includes some of the issues I have raised here.
You might also enjoy A snicker of Magic and Three times lucky.
A few harrowing episodes, including graveyard escapades, a lost dog, skeletal remains, and a near-calamity facing down an oncoming train, help Sadie and readers realize she’s not all that unlucky.