Monday, May 26, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Half a Chance

I loved all the insights into photography in this book! It made me want to get outside with my camera.
Today’s Pick: Half a Chance

by Cynthia Lord

Scholastic, 2014

From Random House:

When Lucy's family moves to an old house on a lake, Lucy tries to see her new home through her camera's lens, as her father has taught her -- he's a famous photographer, away on a shoot. Will her photos ever meet his high standards? When she discovers that he's judging a photo contest, Lucy decides to enter anonymously. She wants to find out if her eye for photography is really special -- or only good enough.

As she seeks out subjects for her photos, Lucy gets to know Nate, the boy next door. But slowly the camera reveals what Nate doesn't want to see: his grandmother's memory is slipping away, and with it much of what he cherishes about his summers on the lake. This summer, Nate will learn about the power of art to show truth. And Lucy will learn how beauty can change lives . . . including her own.

My Take:

This is a quieter story but if you like books about family, nature and friendship, you will enjoy this book. There are many elements in the story to relate to: wanting to win a contest, worrying about whether a new friend really wants to be your friend, and confusion over just what is happening to an elderly person you care about. Lucy’s parents were clearly part of her life and a source of support and conflict.

As a writer, I thought this was a great example of a middle grade novel. The voice was most definitely middle grade, as was the perspective of first person narrator. I loved all the details from nature in this book, especially the loons. It made me think about the words I use to describe interactions with nature.

Opening Line:

“Lucy, we’re going to love this place!” Dad called to me from the porch of the faded, red-shingled cottage with white trim.


“When I’m thinking about how to frame a shot and when to click, there’s nothing else. It fills me up in a good way.”

“Putting the camera down, I took a deep, cold breath, pulling it all inside me—the trees, the mountains, the sky—and held it in for as long as I could.”

“But now that I was wading into the lake, cringing at the gooey bottom and imagining what else might be in the dark water under the dock, it felt cold and gross.”

Other Info:

Cynthia Lord has been writing ever since she was a child. She has her own writing “shed”, as well as two bunnies, a guinea pig and a dog.

One of her previous books, Rules, was named a Newbery Honor book.

Other books by this author:

Touch Blue
The Hod Rod Hamster series
Shelter Pet Squad Series

For more, visit Cynthia Lord’s website.

Looking for more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books? Visit Shannon Messenger’s blog for a list of bloggers reviewing great books today! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).


  1. Sounds like a good contemporary story. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I love Cynthia Lord's other books, so I'll be definitely be checking this out. She does such a good job with making quiet books interesting and writing about family.

  3. Oh, I loved RULES and TOUCH BLUE, so I'm sure I'd love this one. Love quiet books. I grew up spending my summer vacations on a lake (in Pennsylvania) and that last quote about the gooey bottom really hits home!

  4. Sounds like a neat perspective. I tend to like quieter books, especially ones that focus on family, so this sounds like one for me to check out.

  5. I have "rules" on my tbr pile. It will be the first book from this author I get to read, so I'm looking forward it.
    Thanks for this feature.



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