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Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm

Penny from Heaven (2006)

by Jennifer L. Holm

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6982713,611 (3.86)14
Recently added bytkrupinski, MiriamHall, thukpa, stephb6, Salsabrarian, TildenSchoolLibrary, private library



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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 |
Set in 1953 New Jersey, this book is the story of a half-Italian girl being raised, on the one hand, by her widowed mother and native-born American grandparents, and on the other hand, by her late father's large, raucous and slightly eccentric Italian family. (Not that her mother's family isn't a little eccentric too!) Without giving away the plot completely, I must say that one thing I learned was that Italian-Americans (particularly those who were born in Italy) also faced discrimination and internment during World War II. Even growing up in Connecticut among many Italian-Americans, I had not realized this. Penny has many things in common with young people of today, such as dealing with her mother's starting to date, the beginnings of her own attraction to a boy, etc.; but she also has to face over-protectiveness due to the fear of polio, and eventually an injury that few children nowadays would be exposed to. The book started a little slowly and when I got to the uncle who lived in his car (in his mother's backyard) I was thinking, "Oh, not more wacky eccentrics!" but the story picked up fast and I raced through to the satisfying ending. I think it will give a good picture of life in the early 50's to children of today. Highly recommended. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
A slow starter, but very enjoyable. The weakest I think of this year's Newbery bunch, but still very good. The style reminds me of Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder. ( )
  JenJ. | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Jennifer L. Holmprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sealey, AmberReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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...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
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?
Last words
(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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