Children’s Book Reviews
Children's Book Review: The Lotterys Plus One
Publish April 18, 2017
Emma Donoghue’s debut middle-years novel, The Lotterys Plus One, is a captivating story about the meaning of family and belonging. The fifth of seven children, nine-year-old Sumac Lottery, lives with her rambunctious, multicultural family in a Victorian Gothic mansion in Toronto. Four friends, a gay couple and a lesbian couple, decided to start a family together. Although the Lotterys’ free-spirited lifestyle may be a bit unconventional, it is normal to Sumac. Everything changes when her grandfather, who had been estranged from his son, one of Sumac’s fathers, for over fifteen years, suddenly comes to live with them. Grumps has rapidly-advancing dementia and can no longer live on his own in the Yukon. Forced to give up her beloved room to a cranky old man who obviously disapproves of the Lottery family, Sumac takes it upon herself to persuade her family that Grumps would be better off in a nursing home.
Witty and heartwarming, The Lotterys Plus One expertly captures the loving chaos of a large, unique family without letting any of the wide cast of characters become stereotypes. Indeed, Donoghue’s matter-of-fact approach to the diversity of the Lotterys reminds readers that being a family is about more than just sharing genes. Caroline Hadilaksono’s expressive black-and-white illustrations lets readers feel as though they are getting a glimpse into the Lotterys’ lives. The labeled family portrait at the beginning of the book is especially helpful for keeping the story’s many characters clear. Donoghue’s first novel for younger readers will certainly maintain her reputation as an accomplished writer. The Lotterys Plus One will appeal to readers of all ages and backgrounds and is highly recommended.
Roseanne Gauthier is the Youth Services Librarian for the PEI Public Library Service. She has worked in the Faculties of Education at both the University of Prince Edward Island and Mount Saint Vincent University and spent two amazing years as the Children’s Librarian at the Confederation Centre Public Library. She holds an MLIS from Dalhousie University, and an MA from the University of Waterloo. Roseanne lives in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island with her husband, their adorable daughter, and two tuxedo cats.
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