Book review: The Lotterys More or Less, by Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono

Donoghue, Emma. The Lotterys More or Less. Illus. by Caroline Hadilaksono. Arthur A. Levine, 2018. $17.99. 285p. ISBN 978-1-338-20753-8. Ages 9-12. P7Q8

The family of 11 plus a grouchy grandfather that includes a gay couple and a lesbian couple, first seen in The Lotterys Plus One, has returned in a Christmas adventure when the loss of electricity, first for their neighbors and then for themselves, mixes with the need to care for a visitor from Brazil who damaged his eye while sledding behind a car. In this book about a diverse group, two are missing–one of the fathers and the older son are trying to trying to return from a visit to India in the midst of the storm.

Verdict: Since the first book in the series, Donoghue has found a voice and direction, and the author spends less time working with the introduction of the characters. With less wordplay, the narration moves more smoothly, and the nine-year-old narrator shows how a disaster can result in the building of a community.

February 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: The Lotterys Plus One, by Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono

Donoghue, Emma. The Lotterys Plus One. Illus. by Caroline Hadilaksono. Arthur A. Levine, 2017. 305p. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-92582-2. Ages 8-12. P6Q5

This family of eleven has almost every gender and issue—two lesbian moms, two gay dads, a developmentally-delayed toddler, a genderfluid four-year-old, a biracial Filipina-German, five other home-schooled children, and a variety of pets—in a 32-room Toronto mansion that was purchased with income from a lottery. Their relationship is disturbed when the Scottish father of one of the dads, a curmudgeonly bigoted man with early signs of dementia, moves in with him against his will, and Sumac not only has to give up her room for him but also make sure that he stays safe by being his personal guide.

Verdict: The family issues are universal, but the attempt to be clever, use wordplay, and stress the differences sometimes slows down the plot. Lotterys has all the ingredients of a good book by an author of quality adult books, but it still falls flat—sometimes slow almost wooden in places. Authors should keep to what they do best.

March 2017 review by Nel Ward.