Monday, September 22, 2008

What Good Luck! What Bad Luck!

by Remy Charlip/ published 1969 by Scholastic

Wow... this past week has been a good one for me and books. When you hit a once-a-year library sale or a thrift shop you've never been into before, you enter with so much hopeful excitement because nine out of ten times you are rewarded with something amazing. Let's just say, it was a good week.

One find that I was particularly psyched about was getting hold of this book for 25 cents. It was originally published as Fortunately in 1964... then republished under this title in '69...only to be returned to its original title... still in print today. I had seen this book before, but never owned it. Not familiar with the alternate title, I thought at first that it was a totally new and different book, but after a short inspection it was clear that not only had they changed the title for this version, but a good chunk of the text as well. Whereas in the original they use the terms "fortunately" and "unfortunately", here they use "good luck" and "bad luck"... That said, it's a novelty to find this altered paperback, so with that I will repeat it as is...

What good luck!
Ned got a letter that said,
"Please come to a surprise party."
What bad luck!
The party was in Florida and he was in New York.
What good luck!
A friend lent him an airplane.
What bad luck!
The motor exploded.

The story goes on from there, wrenching poor little Ned from one dizzying high to another terrible low. It's quite brilliant really. The illustrations are wonderful line drawings alternating between color and B&W. The terrible turns the story makes are so far out and drastic, they almost seem as if they'd be too much for a small child. However, the tone is so smart and fun that it never feels real, and its obvious that the stretch between the extremes is meant to challenge a child's imagination. Very much so a classic. You'd have to be dead not to love it.

Also by:
The Dead Bird
Mother Mother I Feel Sick Send For the Doctor Quick Quick Quick


Anonymous said...

What a great blog!! Some of your posts are longer than the books - & they're so charming! I love it!

Diandra Mae said...

I saw Brian Selznick speak about this book at a conference, and was immediately enchanted with it. What good fortune you found an altered edition!

Library Mermaid said...

You lucky duck. Nothing like a good used book sale!

Anonymous said...

"Fortunately, he landed in a haystack. Unfortunately, there was a pitchfork in it. Fortunately, he missed the pitchfork. Unfortunately, he missed the haystack."

Ah, the memories. Thanks.

Otepoti, who dropped in from New Zealand.

Chandra said...

We have this one, but with it's 'Fortunately' title. Either way, I think it's a fabulous read aloud! Brilliant book!

Unknown said...

Bad Luck:
I've been trying to remember the name of this book for years in the back of my mind. Good Luck: This was probably my favorite book as a child, I remembered reading it in first or second grade but (Bad Luck) couldn't think of the title. Bad Luck: This book prompted dreams of falling for me when I was little, and probably led to my fear of heights. Good Luck: Nevertheless, I recall loving the book. Good Luck: Something my priest said at church this weekend prompted the recollection as he said, "Good Luck, Bad Luck". And I thought of another title that I recall reading at the same time called "Judd brings luck"...and then I thought, (Good Luck) hey, it's Good Luck, Bad Luck.
Good Luck: Google
Thanks for posting, and if anybody has a "Good Luck, Bad Luck" copy they'd like to sell it'd be your good luck.

Your Intrepid Blogger said...

What good luck! I found a used copy for sale on Amazon! What bad luck! It was $149!

Stephanie Wadas said...

I had this book as a child and have been wanting to get it for my son! Loved this book...thanks for your post about it and bringing back the memories!

Unknown said...

I so remember this book being entitled as "Lucky for me, Unlucky for me" when I was growing up in the "70's". I loved the book, but I just don't remember it having this title! Either way I would love to get my hands on this book for my 4yr. old. I'm sure he would love it as much as I did!
Brian Adams.

Unknown said...

I so remember this book when I was growing up in the "70's" but I vividly remember it entitled as "Lucky for me, Unlucky for me". I would love to get my hands on it for my 4yr old son. I know he would love it now as much as I did when I was little!

Anonymous said...

I used this book in a staff meeting a few weeks ago to make a point about something. The employees loved it. Now I'm going to find a copy. I loved reading this book to my kids when they were growing up. said...

In the early '80s, in second grade, one of the school 'readers' collected different children's stories, including a 'similar but different' version of 'Lucky for Me'. This one featured a girl, rather than a boy, and was narrated in first-person, but following the same structure of 'lucky then unlucky'. I'm wondering if anyone else ever read this version, or has an idea where it was published?

I don't remember the beginning of the story, but the main character/narrator was walking somewhere(maybe to school? I don't think a party invitation was involved),and, after some scenes I'd forgotten, she was:
1. Picked up by a large bird(unlucky)
2. Dropped over the ocean(unlucky)
3. swam a short distance to an 'island'*(lucky)
4. The 'island' was a whale(unlucky...)
5...which sent her on a waterspout(unlucky, because she didn't know where she'd end up...)
6...but she landed in a roller coaster at an amusement park(I don't remember if she was planning on going there, anyway,but definitely lucky!)
And without anymore 'luck or 'unluck' in the last couple pages, she was shown meeting friends and staying there, and finally going home, and calling it a 'lucky' day.
* One other detail I vividly remember was that the illustrations from here on showed that she lost a shoe (and sock) somewhere between pages;she had both shoes on when she hit the water, was swimming on the next page but was 'half-barefoot' the rest of the story...not mentioned as lucky or unluckyin the text that I remember,but 'lucky for her', even though she lost a shoe,she didn't lose her money, since she got a ticket after her 'free ride' in the roller coaster!
Even luckier for her was that she was drawn completely 'dry'even after the 'water' scenes, and didn't catch a cold;-) Also, her friends at the park and her family when she came home didn't ask about the missing shoe, so maybe she lucked out there!
I don't remember the name of the schoolbook that included this story, and I guess the illustrations were changed from whatever the original version had.
At the age I read the story, I liked both the 'repetition' and the 'losing a shoe', which I 'copied' sometimes for a while after reading.
'Lucky for me' I had somewhere to post all this!;-)

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