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Lord, Cynthia.
New York : Scholastic, 2014
IL 3-6, RL 4.3
ISBN 0545035333

(4 booktalks)
Click on the book to read Amazon reviews

Booktalk #1

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 nonuse 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)

Booktalk #2

Twelve year-old Lucy is not happy to move again.  This time she is moving to a remote lake in New Hampshire, but her nature photographer father will not be there. He will be traveling to Arizona for work.  Moving for Lucy means new friends, new school, and lots of new experiences.  Lucy handles her loneliness by entering a photography contest.  She loves taking photographs.  Because her father is the judge of the contest she enters under a false name.  She uses the identity of her new neighbor Nate.  Nate has spent all his summers at the lake with his grandmother, Lilah who is now losing her memory. Nate and Lucy try to help Lilah by working with her on her loon count.  Will Nate be able to accept his grandmother’s loss of memory?  Will Lucy tell her dad about deceiving him in the contest?  Will Lucy and Nate’s friendship survive these challenges?  Reading Half a Chance will give you some surprising answers.    (Booktalk by Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award Committee)

Booktalk #3

Introduce Half a Chance by showing some powerful photographs (the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square, the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima, or Dorothea Lange’s migrant mother in the Dust Bowl, for example).  Ask students what the story behind the photograph might be.  How does the image make them feel?

Half a Chance is about a young girl learning to take pictures that create an emotion or tell a story like the ones you just shared.  As a beginning photographer, Lucy is very unsure of her talent and quality of her pictures.  She has just moved to a house on a lake and meets Nate, who becomes a friend.  Through Lucy’s developing skill at photography, and her developing friendship with Nate, she becomes surer of herself and her talent and helps Nate face some family issues that he is dealing with.  She even finds the courage to anonymously enter a photography contest that her father is judging. If you like art or photography or just learning about and helping others, you might like Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord.  (Prepared by:  Susannah Hogan, Wellford Academy of Science and Technology, Michelle Woodyard, Rosewood Elementary,
South Carolina Children's Books Award Nominee, 2016)

Booktalk #4

Moving again! Lucy gets so frustrated with her parents, especially her dad, who is a famous photographer. He is never around for all the adjustments that come with a move, he just takes his cameras and goes to another assignment. So when Lucy finds out he is going to judge a youth photo contest, she enters anonymously in an effort to win his approval.  But as she shoots her photos, she finds out there is more to see from behind the lens than she expected.  (Oklahoma Sequoyah Award, 2017)

SUBJECTS:    Photography -- Fiction.
                        Fathers and daughters -- Fiction.
                        Friendship -- Fiction.
                        New Hampshire -- Fiction.

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