The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

Informational Resources:

Author Information:

Stacy McAnulty’s website:

An Interview with Author Stacy McAnulty:

An Interview with Author Stacy McAnulty and Giveaway: The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl Blog Tour

Activities & Resources:


About the book:

Webpage for the book and extra information:

Educator’s guide (Random House Children’s Books guide on the author’s website)

Click to access 9781524767570_5289.pdf


List of dog breeds:

Find animal shelters in your area:

Create recycle newspaper and magazine dog art:

Math and Puzzles:

Read about the history of Pi:

Learn about using Pi:

See Pi to the 100,000 digit:


Discover the science behind lightning:

Acquired Savant Syndrome:

Learn about Savant Syndrome in children:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

Learn about OCD:

MakerSpace Activities:

Use this blog to make lightning two different ways:

Create your very own 101 Other Things You Never Knew About Your Best Friend journal using a notebook or create your own notebook using this website:

Creative math-based string art:

Take a class poll of favorite dog breeds and graph the results using a pie chart.

Discussion Questions:

After being hit by lightning Lucy becomes an acquired savant with incredible math talent. Do you have any unusual talents? How did you discover them?

After being sent to the principal’s office multiple times in second grade Nana pulls Lucy out of school and begins to homeschool her. Do you know anyone who has been homeschooled? How do you think their experience has been different than yours? Or if you have been homeschooled, how do you think your experience is different than someone in public school?

Lucy imagines school cafeterias to be “rooms of torture and humiliation” but is surprised to find the reality is different at her school when they are forced to sit and eat together as a class. What does lunch look like at your school? How is it similar or different to lunch at Lucy’s school?

Uncle Paul tells Lucy to “Fake it till you make it.” What advice would you give Lucy?

Levi cheats off of Lucy in math class without her knowing. Have you ever had someone cheat off of you without you knowing? How did you find out? How did you handle the situation?

The students at Lucy’s school are required to complete a service project. What kind of service project would you want to do? Describe how you would go about accomplishing that project.

Uncle Paul gave Lucy the nickname “Lightning Girl.” Do you have a nickname? How did you get it? Who gave it to you? Do you like it or dislike it?

When Lucy and Windy begin planning their service project, they are forced to let Levi join their team. What was the last group project you did and how did you choose your team members? Describe how well you worked together and what struggles you might have faced.

The Pet Hut is an animal shelter that has set up in an old Pizza Hut building and plays on that fact in their signage and advertising. Have you seen any creative reuses for old buildings? Can you think of any other kinds of places that this could work for?

Lucy, Windy, and Levi decide to create a blog to help get dogs adopted from the Pet Hut, based on Lucy’s statistical predictions of the dogs’ adoptability. How would you volunteer your time to help the Pet Hut?

Lucy says, “I want someone to understand that I might not be normal, but this – the numbers , the OCD – is my normal.” Tell about a time when what other people thought was normal didn’t seem that way to you. Describe a time when something you thought was normal ended up not being normal to someone else.

Lucy hides from Windy the fact that she was struck by lightning and is an acquired savant. When Windy finds out later, her feelings are hurt. Have you ever been in a similar situation? If you were the one hiding something, what was your reasoning? If you were the one who found out later, describe how you felt.

Lucy, Windy, and Levi desperately want to help Pi be adopted, but nothing they try is working. What would you do to try to help Pi get adopted?

Lucy is worried that if Nana tells Mr. Stoker that she is a math genius, he will treat her differently. Have you ever worried that someone might treat you differently if they knew a secret about you? Why or why not?

Mr. Stoker says that “a grade is your motivation.” while Derek says, “Pizza’s my only motivation.” What do you find that motivates you?

At the indoor water park Lucy is abandoned by her friends when she comes down the water slide by herself. Have you ever faced a similar situation? How did you handle it?

Windy betrays Lucy by telling the rest of the girls at her party about Lucy’s secret without permission. How would you react if you were in Lucy’s place? Have you ever accidentally told someone else’s secret? If so, how did you resolve the situation.

After Lucy’s secret is revealed she finds out that there are rumors going around school that she is “smarter than Einstein,” she “already graduated from college,” and can “move stuff” with her mind. Have you ever discovered there was a rumor about you? How did it make you feel? How did you handle the situation?

Windy apologizes to Lucy and says that she “wasn’t thinking” and that she just wanted the other girls to like Lucy and get to know her better. Do you think Lucy should forgive her? Why or why not?

Lucy receives a letter from NCASME letting her know whether she was accepted to the school. She hesitates to open it because she realizes she doesn’t know which answer she wants to see. Do you think Lucy should stay at her middle school or go to the academy? In a few sentences, support your reason for this decision.

Book Talk Teasers:

Show the book trailer for The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. After viewing, ask for predictions for what will happen in the story.

Show a collection of dog images and have students create adoption profiles for each one. Give students a chance to share their made-up adoption profiles, then introduce them to the dogs featured in the book. Encourage them to read the book to find out if the dogs get adopted.

Read Alikes:


Cavanaugh, Nancy J. This journal belongs to Ratchet. Homeschooled by her mechanic-environmentalist father, eleven-year-old Rachel “Ratchet” Vance records her efforts to make friends, save a park, remember her mother, and find her own definition of “normal.” (NoveList Plus)

Gantos, Jack. What would Joey do? Joey tries to keep his life from degenerating into total chaos when his mother sends him to be home-schooled with a hostile blind girl, his divorced parents cannot stop fighting, and his grandmother is dying of emphysema. (NoveList Plus)

Jamieson, Victoria. All’s faire in middle school. Homeschooled by Renaissance Fair enthusiasts, eleven-year-old Imogene has a hard time fitting in when her wish to enroll in public school is granted. (NoveList Plus)

Living With an Invisible Disability

Baskin, Nora Raleigh. Anything but typical. Jason, a twelve-year-old autistic boy who wants to become a writer, relates what his life is like as he tries to make sense of his world. (NoveList Plus)

Connor, Leslie. The truth as told by Mason Buttle. Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard. An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day. (NoveList Plus)

O’Reilly, Jane H. The notations of Cooper Cameron. At the family cabin by the lake where his grandfather died two years ago, eleven-year-old Cooper Cameron spends the summer trying to rid himself of the rituals that allow him to cope with his grief and fear. (NoveList Plus)

Sloan, Holly Goldberg. Counting by 7s. Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident. (NoveList Plus)

Math, Puzzles, and Technology

Deutsch, Stacia. The friendship code. Looking forward to joining the new coding club at school so that she can develop her app idea, Lucy is disappointed by the lukewarm reception she gets from the club’s other members, who work with her to decipher mysterious coding notes that she starts receiving. (NoveList Plus)

Thielbar, Melinda. The kung fu puzzle: a mystery with time and temperature. Sam and his friends at the kung fu school use mathematics to solve puzzles about boiling water and melting glass, and figure out the secret to opening a clock that is really a lock while helping Sifu Faiza. (NoveList Plus)

Yang, Gene Luen. Secret coders. Attending an elite school where enterprising students are challenged to solve a variety of clues and puzzles using computer programming, Hopper and her friend, Eni, resolve to crack the school founder’s most elusive mystery together. (NoveList Plus)


McAnulty,  Stacy. The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl. Random House Children’s Books, 2018


The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl.

McAnulty, Stacy (author).

May 2018. 304p. Random, hardcover, $16.99 (9781524767570); Random, library edition, $19.99 (9781524767587); Random, e-book, $16.99 (9781524767594). Grades 4-7. REVIEW. First published March 15, 2018 (Booklist).

When Lucy, 12, was struck by lightning, she gained extraordinary math skills, and her grandmother, Nana, who raised Lucy after her parents’ death, has homeschooled her ever since. Lucy is content to fill her hours with online college classes and chats on math forums where no one knows her real age, but Nana decides that Lucy needs to experience a world outside of a computer screen. If Lucy goes to middle school for one year, Nana promises, she’ll be allowed to apply to college, and reluctantly, Lucy agrees. At first, her germophobia and mild obsessive behavior make a difficult situation more difficult, but eventually, she acquires two friends, finds useful work to do at an animal shelter, and has her life changed by a little dog she calls Pi. McAnulty captures the drama and trauma of middle school with well-rounded and believable characters and a convincing and appealing story. The math focus (for instance, McAnulty nicely weaves information about pi and Fibonacci numbers) adds a useful STEM component as well. — Donna Scanlon

Used with the permission of Booklist

School Library Journal (February 1, 2018) 

Gr 4-6-McAnulty (Brave) makes aábig splash with this standalone novel. Twelve-year-old Lucy, a.k.a. Lightning Girl, has been homeschooled by her grandmother since she was eight; she’s been a math genius ever since she was hit by lightning and survived. She also lives with OCD and has rituals that revolve around the number three. If she does not perform them, the numbers of Pi string out in her brain. “It’s like getting a song stuck in your head….áIncredibly annoying but beautiful.” Since she can recite the numbers to the 314th decimal place, seeing them prevents her from concentrating on anything else. She mastered calculus and now wants to take college classes. Nana wants her to go to middle school for a year, make aánew friend, try one new activity, and read a book that isn’t about math-a tall order for the genius. Lucy is a unique and endearing character who readers will not soon forget. The school, social situations,áand dialogue are spot on. Lucy’s voice is distinct, and her intelligence and wry humor shine. Her love of math will be contagious even for math-phobes. Other characters, such as Nana, Uncle Paul, Windy,áand Levi, are equally well drawn. Readers should be prepared to weep at a gut-punching turn of events near the end but will close the book with a satisfied sigh and a Lucy-sized place in their heart. VERDICT Prepare to fall in love. This outstanding story sensitively portrays a neuro-diverse main character and is not to be missed.-Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.  

Reprinted with permission from School Library Journal ©2018