Thursday, March 13, 2008

Penny from Heaven

Title: Penny From Heaven
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Newbery Honor
Pages: 288
Date Finished: 1 March 2008
My Rating: 4 Stars

Newbery Honor Book 2007
In the early 1950s, Penny is living with her widowed mom and maternal grandparents in New Jersey. Her father's large Italian family is close by and Penny spends a lot of time with them. There is a huge contrast between the two families, her mom's family is kinda boring and overprotective while her father's family is a loud and boisterous Italian family, but neither side will talk to Penny about her father.
You know there is a story there about Penny's father but there is not much build-up. No clues or teasing bits of information are given out to make you wonder what happened but since nobody will talk about him, you know something must have happened. There just was not much build up to the climax of the story and then once Penny does hear the story she accepts it and everything else that had been bothering her that summer and moves on like nothing happened. I thought the story, maybe, could have been fleshed out little bit more.
It was an enjoyable read and I especially like Penny's voice as the narrator. She captured the time period in her tone and language very well. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, especially all the Italian Aunts and Uncles, but most of them were vividly drawn and so stood out from each other.
**spoiler alert**
Holm brought out a piece of history that we don't hear much about. There seems to be so much written about the Japanese internment camps but never much about the Italian internment camps. The author's note and pictures at the end were informative and fun to look at.


Maw Books said...

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was interesting to see how Italian Americans were treated during the war. I didn't know about that. It was a fun read.

Jon, Ashlie, and Jaylie Fackrell said...

Thanks for this great review, I really enjoyed this book also. The author opened my eyes to this time in history. Have you ever read Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata? It won the Newberry Medal in 2005, it reminds me a bit of Penny from Heaven. I also have to suggest two other books that I would recommend to all book lovers, which you seem to be. A Long Way From Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, both are by Richard Peck. They are such fun reads, Peck is quite witty, and his character, Grandma Dowdle, is a hoot! Hope you enjoy!
Thanks for this great blog,