Title: Penny From Heaven
Author: Jennifer L Holm
Published by Random House, 2006
Reviewed for Amazing Kids
Penny is a girl who lives in New Jersey with her widowed mother. She knows she has alot to deal with but is trying her best. The year is 1953 and not everything is as swell as it appears. She has a strange but fun relationship with Uncle Dominic who lives in his car outside of Grandma Falucci's house. He shares his love of the Brooklyn Dodgers with her and they listen to many games on the car radio. He gives her a lucky bean which he had gotten from her father and it is supposed to keep bad things from happening to her. Why won't anyone tell her how her father died?
Like most families during that time, they share their houses. Me Me and Pop-Pop are her grandparents that live upstairs from Penny, her mother, and Scarlett O'Hara the poodle, They share their meals together and they look after her while Penny's mother works at the hospital. Pop-Pop is a war veteran who is going deaf, sometimes he hears things strangely.
Penny also is allowed to spend time with her father's Italian and Catholic family. She discovers some unusual tastes in food such as eating calf brains and cow stomachs. Aunt Gina doesn't want Penny to learn Italian because of things that happened during World War II. A new red coat is given to Penny from Uncle Nunzio's factory. Penny's closest friend is her cousin Frankie. Just how far Frankie decides to take advantage of Penny's friendship remains to be seen throughout the book.
Penny must also deal with her mother beginning to date the milkman, Mr Mulligan. No matter how Penny acts when Mr Mulligan is around, he is not discouraged and keeps coming around. When Penny's arm gets caught in the wringer washer, her relationship gets a chance to grow with him and many secrets about the past get uncovered.
I really liked this book! I have some cousins that are part Italian and I liked to learn more about Italian customs. This book is more than just a history book but also adds a touch of romance and mystery to it. There were times when reading this book, that I laughed out loud. I can see why this book was named a Newberry Honor Book. This is a terrific book for ages 9-12.