Lucky by Chris Hill

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Lucky by Chris Hill

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A young red squirrel finds himself alone in a park full of greys. Two rival clans fight over territory and soon Lucky is caught up in the war between the Cloudfoots and Northenders.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 192 Date: September 2014
Publisher: Chicken House
ISBN: 978-1908435149

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Does enjoyment of a book depend on whether it measures up to expectations? As readers, our initial impressions of a publication are based entirely on the blurb and cover art, although there are plenty of instances where the content doesn't do justice to either. In some cases, it can be a good thing; a book may be a lot better than first expected. However, when the story is completely different to the one that you hoped for, it can leave a somewhat bitter after-taste. My daughter requested Lucky after seeing the cute cover art and reading the blurb about a little red squirrel trying to save the park. She is a big fan of Holly Webb animal stories and was hoping that this would be written in a similar style.

The story started with plenty of promise; a young red squirrel wakes up far from home and finds himself in a colony of greys, nursed by a caring female squirrel who considers herself his adopted mother. However, a few more pages into the story and we discover that these squirrels aren't the solitary, fluffy foragers that we see in our local parks. These are squirrels at war; each with an army that aims to annihilate the enemy as expediently as possible. Lucky is soon enrolled as a cadet and begins his army training. From this point on, the squirrels don't seem to be true to type. To all intents and purposes, they have become mini-humans, with their own hierarchy and traditions; albeit mini-humans with bushy tails...

If you can cope with this premise, then you will probably enjoy the story. It is full of action and excitement, betrayal and intrigue. There is also a fair bit of blood, death and cracking of bones, if you like that sort of thing. Think along the lines of Watership Down rather than Disney.

If you look beyond the action, you will see that Lucky actually deals with some big issues. Firstly, Lucky is the only red in a colony of greys, so one of the themes of the book is about how he deals with the prejudice that he faces. Friendship, loyalty and betrayal are also strong themes that run through the book. The up and downs of the relationship between Lucky and his friend Nimlet make for engaging, thought-provoking reading. I also like the fact that there is a section at the back of the book dealing with the real-life plight of the red squirrel, with a link to the Save our Squirrels website.

I was disappointed in Lucky. The animals in the story did not behave like animals, they behaved like humans and this was a big problem for me. The story itself is engaging enough, but I'm unsure as to the intended target audience. Action-loving boys, who would probably enjoy the book, may be put off my the cute cover art; whereas those drawn to the book by the sweet squirrel on the cover may be traumatised by the bloody content. I found Lucky to be a confusing story that sadly does not live up to its promises.

Fans of this type of book will enjoy The River Singers by Tom Moorhouse, a story about water voles in search of a safe new home.

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Buy Lucky by Chris Hill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lucky by Chris Hill at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Lucky by Chris Hill at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Lucky by Chris Hill at


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