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Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm
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Penny from Heaven (2006)

by Jennifer L. Holm

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Penny from Heaven is a great book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The dialog is excellent and the main characters are fun to read about. I'm not Italian, but I often wish that I belonged to a large Italian family in New York. I always thought it would be great to have a lot of uncles and aunts and tons of cousins, all looking out for one another
  Williewarren | Apr 15, 2016 |
Holm uses a lot of very direct exposition when she writes, which I appreciate. The setting is always important in her books, so she kind of lays that out and then the dialogue really does the rest. When Penny, who says, "sometimes I feel like a translator" gives us a sense of the intricacies of immigrant family life. ( )
  CALammert | Mar 31, 2016 |
Read by Amber Sealey. Penny lives with her mother, grandma Mimi, and Pop-Pop. Her mother's family is nothing like her father's side, which is Italian, large, emotional, and the food is better than anything Mimi cooks. According to the family Penny's father died of cancer; since then her father's relatives are protective and loving of Penny. Her favorite relatives include mischievous cousin Frankie and quiet Uncle Dominic. The two families never mix and Penny serves as a bridge between them. Penny is enjoying a swell summer, working at her relatives' store, scheming with Frankie and going to a ballgame with Dominic to see "da bums," the Brooklyn Dodgers. After an accident injures her arm, Penny overhears in the hospital that her father didn't die of cancer but worked as a spy and died in jail. Penny demands the truth and learns that her father's only crime was being Italian during WWII and owning a short-wave radio (which he used to listen to games.)
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Summary: Penny is an 11 year old girl in the summer of 1953. World War II is strongly effecting her summer, she can't even go swimming because her mother fears she might catch polio from the pool. This story depicts the struggles her family goes through because of the war.

Personal Reaction: This story was another one that really made me think. It is so easy to take the small things like going swimming for granted, but there have been times when even America struggled. The truth about her father's death broke my heart as well. This is a must read!

Classroom Extension: Older students could do a research project on WWII or they could write Penny letters throughout the book.
  shelbeydismuke | Nov 18, 2015 |
What Cherylann said here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/116107173. I imagine that there are enough humorous adventures to keep some young readers interested, especially if they can identify with the main character and the disharmony between the two sides of her family. I couldn't - I never would have been showered with so many presents big and small but rather expected to 'buck up' against misfortune.

I do appreciate that it seems to be almost fully true, fairly authentically based on the author's mother and her family. Several photos & notes are included.

Better approached, because of all the 'telling' narration, as primarily historical fiction rather than a family or coming-of-age story, though it does of course have those elements. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jennifer L. Holmprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sealey, AmberReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
...Every time it rains it rains

Pennies from heaven.

Don't you know each cloud contains

Pennies from heaven.

You'll find your fortune falling

All over town.

Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.

Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers.

If you want the things you love

You must have showers.

So when you hear it thunder

Don't run under a tree.

There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me.

--"Pennies from Heaven" by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston
Dedication
For our Henry, the best fella ever
First words
Me-me says that Heaven is full of fluffy white clouds and angels. That sounds pretty swell, but how can you sit on a cloud?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375836896, Paperback)

It’s1953 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!

Inspired by Newbery Honor winner Jennifer Holm’s own Italian American family, Penny from Heaven is a shining story about the everyday and the extraordinary, about a time in America’s history, not all that long ago, when being Italian meant that you were the enemy. But most of all, it’s a story about families—about the things that tear them apart and bring them together. And Holm tells it with all the richness and the layers, the love and the laughter of a Sunday dinner at Nonny’s. So pull up a chair and enjoy the feast! Buon appetito!


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:50 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

As she turns twelve during the summer of 1953, Penny gains new insights into herself and her family while also learning a secret about her father's death.

» see all 3 descriptions

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