________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 32. . . .April 22, 2016


Lucky Jonah.

Richard Scrimger.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollinsCanada, 2016.
223 pp., trade pbk., $14.99.
ISBN 978-1-4434-1071-7.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Leon’s colourful coat shimmers as he bends over the desk to sign something. He straightens up, holding the plastic bag of my belongings at his side. No one’s paying attention to him. He catches my eye and grins at me again—the full-face lively grin that makes my heart pound. In a smooth clean motion, he tosses the bag in my direction. I see it in the air, turning end over end. I reach my hands through the bars to catch it, fumble open the Ziploc, and pull out the camera. The bag drops to the floor of my cell.

This is my chance. My pot of hope bubbles over. I know what to do. What an amazing ten minutes this has been. Thank you, Leon. Thank you.

Sergeant Brown lets out a yell and heads towards me. So does a bulky cop with a mouthful of chewing gum. So does a small cop with a mean expression and a nightstick in his hand. Three of them and one of me. I back myself into the cell, point the camera blindly at the far end of police station and click the shutter.


Jonah finds himself in the middle an identity crisis, awash in self-doubt and insecurity. His older brother constantly bullies him, and his parents don’t seem to notice; his best friend is perfect—athletic, confident and good looking; his friend’s girlfriend hates him and doesn’t hesitate to express it; and no one seems to understand what Jonah is going through. One morning, he is watching his friend win at basketball when an odd man comes up to him and offers him a magic disposable camera. Initially dismissive, Jonah soon discovers that, when he takes a picture of someone with the camera, he becomes that person. The camera offers him 12 chances to experience life as other people. Lucky Jonah follows Jonah as he uses the camera and discovers that he didn’t know as much about his friends and family as he thought he knew. He also discovers some unintended consequences of the magical camera. It doesn’t always take a picture of the person he thought he was aiming for, and, as a result, he ends up in a series of escalating catastrophes.

     Lucky Jonah covers serious topics, but the gentle humour of the novel prevents it from being too heavy. The novel is a well-written and highly enjoyable read, recommended for school and public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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