Title: Penny From Heaven
Author: Jennifer Holm
Recommended for: Grades 3-7
Call Number/Link: J HOL
It’s 1953 and 11-year-old Penny dreams of a summer of butter pecan ice cream, swimming, and baseball. But nothing’s that easy in Penny’s family. For starters, she can’t go swimming because her mother’s afraid she’ll catch polio at the pool. To make matters worse, her favorite uncle is living in a car. Her Nonny cries every time her father’s name is mentioned. And the two sides of her family aren’t speaking to each other. Penny also gains new insights into herself and her family while also learning a secret about her father’s death.
This book was our Girls Read Selection for January and although I have read the book before and was a fan I was not sure the girls would react the same way. Historical fiction doesn’t appeal to everyone, but this book was a hit. The story has a little bit of everything, with relationships (especially between the two sides of her family), the historical aspects, and a little bit of mystery. Most of all this Newberry Honor winner had the girls wanting a sequel and declaring it would be a great movie. High praise from a 10 year old. Good suggestion for someone looking for historical fiction, but hesitant about the genre. I would recommend it mainly for girls, but don’t rule it out for boys because of Penny’s relationship with her cousin Frankie.