Cover image for Orwell's luck
Orwell's luck
Jennings, Richard W. (Richard Walker), 1945-
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, [2000]

Physical Description:
146 pages ; 22 cm
While caring for an injured rabbit which becomes his confidant, horoscope writer, and source of good luck, a thoughtful seventh grade girl learns to see things in more than one way.
General Note:
"Walter Lorraine books."
Reading Level:
900 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 6.0 5.0 43742.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 9 Quiz: 28713 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


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When a wounded wild rabbit is found in the front yard, he is given a good home and a memorable name by a twelve-year-old with a liking for basketball, the trombone, and the newspaper's daily horoscope. But Orwell is no ordinary rabbit. It soon seems that he is attempting to reward his young caretaker by mysteriously sending coded messages in the form of predictions: the final score of the Super Bowl, advance notice of a pop quiz at school, tomorrow's winning lottery number! Can this little rabbit foretell the future? Can Orwell actually make luck happen? Here is a magical and heartwarming story about kindness, friendship, and hope in the shadow of fortune's ever-turning wheel.

Author Notes

Richard W. Jennings has published more than fifty essays, articles, and short stories, including The Tragic Tale of the Dog Who Killed Himself, published by Bantam Books in 1980 to widespread critical acclaim, in addition to his recent titles published with Houghton Mifflin - Orwell's Luck, The Great Whale of Kansas, My Life of Crime, and Scribble. He is cofounder of a popular Kansas City-area bookstore and former editor of KANSAS CITY MAGAZINE. He has five children, four grandchildren, a dog, a cat, and a parrot and lives in Kansas.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. When a 12-year-old girl (whose name we never learn) discovers an injured rabbit in her driveway, she adopts it, nurses it back to health, and names it Orwell. Then the magic starts. Orwell, it seems, is sending the girl coded messages via her favorite newspaper feature: the daily horoscope. Some are predictions (the final score of the next day's Super Bowl game); some are philosophy ("Things Only Seem Impossible Before They Happen"); and some are gentle hints ("Your Sister Wants You For A Friend" ). All of the messages invite the girl, who is thoughtful by nature, to ponder the mystery of Orwell. Why has he come, and what do his messages mean about life and luck, choice and chance, continuity and change? Never didactic, this absolutely captivating tale is about everyday magic, the sort of thing that E. Nesbit used to write, filled with quiet humor and seamless invention. The characters--the girl, her family and the boy with tousled hair who becomes her friend--are the sort that readers fall in love with; they are so natural, so unaffected, so . . . themselves. The girl sounds a bit sophisticated for her age, but her words so effortlessly capture the spirit of the story that readers will simply relax and enjoy her engaging freshness and wit. --Michael Cart

Publisher's Weekly Review

Quirky details and a warm, precocious 12-year-old narrator add up to an engaging and imaginative novel. While the plot is seemingly straightforward, the unnamed narrator subtlyÄoccasionally too subtlyÄdivulges clues to the inner workings of her life. The story begins as she finds an injured rabbit in her front yard and works hard to help him recover. She feeds Orwell apples, plays him a concert on her trombone and eventually secures the aid of a kindly vet who restores movement to the rabbit's back legs. Orwell repays her by sending secret messages in the newspaper horoscopes, on the weather page and even in movie credits. Ranging from prophetic to practical to philosophical, the messages eventually teach her that "there is always more than one way of looking at things." Between Orwell's bulletins, the narrator off-handedly addresses less mystical dramas, such as her father's sudden unemployment and her loneliness at a new school. She delivers these details with great delicacy, as though she doesn't want to bother her audience ("My father's job during this troublesome time in our lives consisted primarily of buying lottery tickets"). The audience will have to study her words carefully to get the full picture, but the surface layer of the story is intriguing in and of itself. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-9-When a seventh-grade girl discovers an injured rabbit resting on the morning newspaper, she decides to nurse it back to health and names it Orwell. The narrator, who remains nameless, is intelligent, inquisitive, observant, perceptive, and blessed with an understanding family. She takes good care of the animal and eventually figures out that he is communicating with her through personalized messages in the daily horoscope section of the newspaper that is delivered to her house. Some of the communications are instructive ("THE MEANING OF LIFE IS TO SEE") and some foretell the future (listing the winning lottery numbers). The narrator soon realizes that Orwell is her treasure and that his wisdom lightens the burden of being 12. She is confronted by real questions-who am I and who will I be, are my parents for real, and will the tousle-haired boy like me-but she faces them with humor and hope and the support of her family. The story line is straightforward and entertaining. Jennings writes with natural grace and has a clear understanding of the concerns of this age group. Each element of the plot flows naturally into the next stage as the narrator learns how to care for those around her and to appreciate the fact that "-nothing really ends, it just keeps on changing." A challenging and thought-provoking novel.-Judith Everitt, Orchard Hill Elementary School, Skillman, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.