Penny from Heaven

Jennifer L. Holm
Jennifer Holm's New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor Winner is the story of a summer of adventures and secrets that will change everything, at a time in America’s history, just after World War II, when being Italian-American meant confronting prejudice because you'd been the enemy not that long ago .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 dog, Scarlett O'Hara, is sick. Her favorite uncle is living in a car. Her best friend is turning into a criminal. And no one will tell Penny the truth about how her father died. Inspired by three time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer Holm’s own Italian American family, Penny from Heaven is a story about families—about the things that tear them apart and the things that bring them back together.Includes an Author's Note with photographs and additional background on World War II, Internment camps and 1950s America, as well as additional resources and websites.Booklist:"Holm impressively wraps pathos with comedy in this coming-of-age story, populated by a cast of vivid characters."


Reviewed: 2017-09-25

 This book starts off slow, but gains momentum by the end.  This book provides students with an introduction to every day life in World War II era America.  It's a nice quick read.  

Reviewed: 2016-08-16

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L.Holm is one of the best middle-school aged books I have read in a long time. I could relate to Penny's father side of the family through her fun -loving and boisterious description of the Italian side of the family. Holm does an incredible job of using descriptive language to really allow the reader to feel as though she is next to Penny re-living all of her ups and downs as an eleven year old going through a complicated family relationship. I think that many middle schoolers could relate to this book, because many teenagers and "tweens" come from their own difficult homes, and could relate to the new man that her mother is dating, as well as feeling a divide between her mother and father's side of the family. The text was well-written and the plot is well developed with Penny's relationship with her cousin Frank and all of the "trouble" that they get into together over the summer time. I also feel that this book has many over-lapping conflicts, and would be a great book to teach the fiction story plot chart as well as a choice for a book club text. Overall, this was an incredibly powerful read and I recommend this book for middle schools students, high school students, as well as adults! I think all age groups can take something positive away from this text. 

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