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Battling superstition and the `Chair's' scary powers

July 01, 2007|Jo Perry | Special to The Times

Have you ever had an unlucky streak when everything went wrong? Then you'll sympathize with Addison Darby, the unluckiest girl at Brookside Elementary School. Sue Wilkowski tells Addison's story in "The Bad Luck Chair." Luckily, the book will be published on July 5, in time to make it your Friday the 13th book club selection.

Fourth-grader Addison Darby dislikes being the center of attention. Imagine her uneasiness when she walks into class one morning to find her classmates crowded around her desk and whispering. Addison soon discovers that the dreaded Bad Luck Chair has been placed behind her desk.

The hideous Bad Luck Chair has a chip on its left corner, a leg painted slime green, a seat with a skull-shaped stain, and the initials "B" and "L" carved into the back. Addison, like every other kid at her school, believes that whoever sits in the Bad Luck Chair will be cursed forever with terrible luck. Past victims of the Chair include a boy who lost his chance to compete in the Math Olympics; a gifted dancer who broke her toe and missed her recital; and a lucky boy whose good fortune turned bad -- permanently.

Addison feels hopeless until she's offered a way to undo the Chair's curse. But fighting the Chair will be difficult: Addison will have to stand up for herself and the students will have to work together -- even the mean kids -- to weaken the power the Chair has over them.

Book club ideas

Eat fortune cookies or snack on marshmallow charm cereal. Share your superstitions. Talk about times you've felt unlucky and how your own efforts improved your luck.

Make wishes and plan how to make them come true at the Seven Star Cavern Wishing Well in the New Chinatown Center Plaza (943-951 North Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, between Broadway and Alpine Street).

Read "The Real Lucky Charm" by Charisse Richardson; "Don't Step on the Foul Line: Sports Superstitions" by George Sullivan; "Duck's Breath and Mouse Pie: A Collection of Animal Superstitions" by Steve Jenkins; "Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat: Superstitions and Other Beliefs" by Alvin Schwartz; and "The Chain Letter" by Julie Schumacher.

This is one in a series on book clubs for kids. Send book club news to Jo Perry at

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