BookPage Top Pick in Children's Books, March 2014

When Lucy’s family moves to an old house on a New Hampshire lake, she must adjust to new surroundings and new friends—all without her father, a professional photographer, who is gone on yet another extended business trip. While she admires her father’s talents, the tween is also eager to show him that she, too, has an eye for photography and capturing stories through the camera lens. She gets her chance when she learns her father is judging a photo contest and secretly decides to enter.

She quickly makes friends with Nate, the boy next door, and his family, including his charming Grandma Lilah. They ask her to join their “loon patrol” trips to monitor the loons on the lake. Eager to document the lake, the loons and the mountains, Lucy brings her camera—but photographs, full of dimension and truth, don’t lie. One image Lucy takes—a poignant but piercing picture of Grandma Lilah—is all too real and painful, divulging a story and a future no one wants to admit.

In Half a Chance, Newbery Honor winner Cynthia Lord (Rules) creatively weaves a touching story and tackles important issues for this age group, including isolation and the complexities of friendship. It also introduces Alzheimer’s disease in an understated and uniquely understandable way. During an unforgettable summer in New Hampshire, set against the backdrop of the photography contest, Lucy learns about the roots of family, the ties of loyalty, the power of storytelling and what it means to be a true friend.


Sharon Verbeten is a freelance writer and children’s librarian in De Pere, Wisconsin.

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