The Lucky Star

written by Judy Young

It’s 1933 and the Great Depression has left millions of people without work. Like thousands of families, Ruth’s family struggles just to keep food on the table. And now, ten-year-old Ruth has just learned that school is a luxury her town cannot afford. She will not be going on to fifth grade. Ruth sees very little in her life to count as lucky stars. But when Ruth stops focusing on the hardships and focuses on solutions, she discovers the importance of being a lucky star for someone else.


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ISBN: 978-1-58536-348-3 Category:

Written by Judy Young
Illustrated by Chris Ellison

Published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2008

Hard Cover, 40 pp.

Awards and Kudos

  • 2010/2011 Missouri Show Me Readers Award Nomination
  • 2009 Storytelling World Honor Award for Pre-Adolescent Listeners
  • 2008 Top Five Book selected by Rutgers University’s EconKids Project


Kirkus Review: “Counting ‘lucky stars’ isn’t easy when you own the world’s ugliest hand-me-down shoes, your school has closed and your dad is permanently out of town. Ruth [ten] wants to pursue her dream of education, but how can she do that during the Great Depression?…Young’s positive, feel-good story succeeds in showing how applying a good attitude and creativity will make life shine brighter than a lucky star…”

Rutgers University“Ruth, a young girl growing up during the Great Depression, has trouble understanding …how to handle life in the face of job loss, food insecurity, hand-me-down shoes from the neighbor, and the closing of the local school. Only when Ruth takes the initiative to use her skills in addressing the needs of the youngsters around her does she begin to have a brighter outlook on life. This outstanding book will help children to gain a richer exposure to … lessons about unemployment, scarcity, and recession…Teachers and parents can use the book’s poignant illustrations and clear text to help children come to terms with potentially difficult economic times they may be experiencing themselves.”

School Library Journal: “This title succeeds in capturing a particular time period as well as in delivering a timeless message.”

A Patchwork of Books: “Very well-written, as well as educational, The Lucky Star is a certain winner. Though it appears in the format of a picture book, this will definitely work better as a juvenile fiction book for 8-12 year olds.”

Looking Glass Review: “This very moving and powerful book beautifully captures the problems that people experienced on a daily basis during the Great Depression. With great care the author includes all kinds of details that help the young reader get a sense of what it was like to live in in the 1930’s when school closed, jobs were lost, and when children had to look long and hard to find “lucky stars.” Though this story is sad at times, readers will find that the tale is also full of hope.”