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Summary: Penelope "Penny" Grey lives in a big house in the Big City. She has everything she could want, but mostly she has boredom. She wanted to 'do' something, but never could she have predicted her dad would quit his job, they would lose all their money, her mom would inherit a house, and that they would move to tiny Thrush Junction, Tennessee. But it DID happen, and Penny was happy. Well, mostly happy. She had new friends, great neighbors ... she was 'doing' things and enjoying life. But the money problems they inherited with the house were about to put an end to the good life. When Penny found out about the gold mine in Thrush Junction, she knew she had a way to help her parents. But could she get her friends to help and not tell them why it was so important? This middle grade novel explores friendship, growing up, and change, all with a healthy sense of humor.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader
Recommended Age: read togheter: 8 to 12; read yoruself: 9 and up
Interest Level: 8 and up
Reading Level: 3.5
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: Penny will grab your heart on page 1. She is an "every girl" that allows you to see yourself as a 10-year-old, too. The characters are quirky, yet fun, and all contribute to the story and its lessons in many different ways. Through the story, you can see how books influence real life, and vice versa. Laurel Snyder has carefully crafted the story so that sometimes she shares a title, sometimes she shares an event - and the kids have to figure out what book Penny is talking about. Last but not least, unlike a lot of books for this age group, Penny's parents are neither idiotic nor overbearing. That, alone, is refreshing. It has great potential as a high interest/low readability book.
Pros: A wonderful, wholesome story that can be shared with kids of all ages. Kids will see themselves, their friends, their neighbors, even their favorite books. Penny may be a girl, but boys will love this story too.
Cons: Absolutely none.
Borrow or Buy: Buy! This is one that you definitely want to share out loud with your kids and then let them enjoy for themselves and share with their friends. A guaranteed dog-eared book.
Educational Themes: This is truly a book to be enjoyed "just because." You can enjoy uncovering some of the literary reference and allusions to see which ones you can find. Because Penny believes that the changes came from wishes, you can explore the adage "be careful what you wish for," among others. Last but not least, it is a way to talk about responsibility (can you really just walk away from a job with no plan?) and money with your kids.
Notes: The publisher donated an advance reader copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
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