Penny from Heaven

Penny from Heaven

by Jennifer L. Holm

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Newbery Honor–winning, New York Times–bestselling, and as full of fun and adventure as it is of deeper family issues--now with striking new cover art! 
 
School’s out for summer, and Penny and her cousin Frankie have big plans to eat lots of butter pecan ice cream, swim at the local pool, and cheer on their favorite baseball team—the Brooklyn Dodgers! But sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Penny’s mom doesn’t want her to swim because she’s afraid Penny will get polio. Frankie is constantly getting into trouble, and Penny feels caught between the two sides of her family. But even if the summer doesn’t exactly start as planned . . . things can work out in the most unexpected ways!
 
Set just after World War II, this thought-provoking novel also highlights the prejudice Penny’s Italian American family must confront because people of Italian descent were “the enemy” not long ago.
 
Inspired by three-time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer Holm’s own Italian American family, Penny from Heaven is a story about families—about the things that tear them apart and the things that bring them back together.
 
Includes an author’s note with photographs and background on World War II, internment camps, and 1950s America, as well as additional resources and websites.
 
"Holm's deft storytelling is at once rosy, rounded, and realistic." --San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375836893
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 12/26/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 65,328
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.73(d)
Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 12 Years

About the Author

Jennifer L. Holm is the New York Times bestselling children’s author of The Fourteenth Goldfish and, with her brother Matthew Holm, Sunny Side Up. She is the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels Our Only May Amelia, Penny from Heaven, and Turtle in Paradise. Her latest novel, Full of Beans, is a companion to Turtle in Paradise and stars Turtle’s cousin Beans. Jennifer also collaborates with Matthew on three graphic novel series—the Eisner Award–winning Babymouse series, the bestselling Squish series, and My First Comics. Jenni lives in California. You can visit her on the Web at jenniferholm.com or follow her on twitter at @jenniholm.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Best Seat in the House


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? Wouldn't you fall right through and smack onto the ground? Like Frankie always says, angels have wings, so what do they have to worry about?

My idea of Heaven has nothing to do with clouds or angels. In my Heaven there's butter pecan ice cream and swimming pools and baseball games. The Brooklyn Dodgers always win, and I have the best seat in the house, right behind the Dodgers' dugout. That's the only advantage that I can see to being dead: You get the best seat in the house.

I think about Heaven a lot. Not because of the usual reasons, though. I'm only eleven, and I don't plan on dying until I'm at least a hundred. It's just that I'm named after that Bing Crosby song "Pennies from Heaven," and when you're named after something, you can't help but think about it.

See, my father was crazy about Bing Crosby, and that's why everyone calls me Penny instead of Barbara Ann Falucci, which is what's on my birth certificate. No one ever calls me Barbara, except teachers, and sometimes even I forget that it's my real name.

I guess it could be worse. I could be called Clementine, which was the name of another Bing Crosby song that my father really liked.

I don't think I'd make a very good Clementine. Then again, who would?


Chapter Two

The Lucky Bean


Uncle Dominic is sitting in his car.

It's a 1940 Plymouth Roadking. It's black with chrome trim, and the hubcaps are so shiny, you could use them as a mirror. Uncle Dominic pays my cousin Frankie to shine them up. It's an awfully nice car; everybody says so. But then, it's kind of hard to miss. It's been parked in the side yard of my grandmother Falucci's house for as long as I can remember.

Uncle Dominic lives right there in his car. Nobody in the family thinks it's weird that Uncle Dominic lives in his car, or if they do, nobody ever says anything. It's 1953, and it's not exactly normal for people in New Jersey to live in cars. Most people around here live in houses. But Uncle Dominic's kind of a hermit. He also likes to wear slippers instead of shoes. Once I asked him why.

"They're comfortable," he said.

Besides living in the car and wearing slippers, Uncle Dominic's my favorite uncle, and I have a lot of uncles. Sometimes I lose track of them.

"Hey, Princess," Uncle Dominic calls.

I lean through the window and hear the announcer on the portable radio. Uncle Dominic likes to listen to ball games in the car. There's a pillow and a ratty-looking blanket on the backseat. Uncle Dominic says the car's the only place he can get any rest. He has a lot of trouble falling asleep.

"Hi, Uncle Dominic," I say.

"Game's on," he says.

I start to open the back door, but Uncle Dominic says, "You can sit up front."

Uncle Dominic's very particular about who's allowed to sit in his car. Most people have to sit in the back, although Uncle Nunzio always sits up front. I don't think anyone ever tells Uncle Nunzio what to do.

"Who's winning?" I ask.

"Bums are ahead."

I love the Brooklyn Dodgers, and so does Uncle Dominic. We call them Dem Bums. Most people around here like the New York Yankees or the Giants, but not us.

Uncle Dominic is staring out the window, like he's really in the ballpark and watching the game from the bleachers. He's handsome, with dark hair and brown eyes. Everyone says he looks just like my father. I don't remember my father because he died when I was just a baby, but I've seen photographs, and Uncle Dominic does look like him, except sadder.

"Got something for you," Uncle Dominic says.

All my uncles give me presents. Uncle Nunzio gives me fur muffs, and Uncle Ralphie gives me candy, and Uncle Paulie brings me fancy perfumes, and Uncle Sally gives me horseshoes. It's like Christmas all the time.

Uncle Dominic hands me something that looks like a big dark-brown bean.

"What is it?"

"It's a lucky bean," he says. Uncle Dominic is superstitious. "Just found it this morning. It was packed away with some old things. I got it for your father before he died, but I never had a chance to give it to him. I want you to have it."

"Where'd you get it?" I ask.

"Florida," he says.

Uncle Dominic loves Florida and goes to Vero Beach every winter, probably because it's too cold to live in the car then. Even though he lives in this car, he has another car that he uses for driving, a 1950 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Frankie says he bets Uncle Dominic has a girl down in Florida, but I kind of don't think so. Most women want a new Frigidaire, not a backseat.

"Put it in your pocket," he says. "It'll keep you safe."

The lucky bean is big and lumpy. It feels heavy, not the kind of thing to put in a pocket, but Uncle Dominic has this look about his eyes like he might just die if I don't, and because he is my favorite uncle, I do what I always do.

I smile and say, "Thanks, Uncle Dominic."

For a moment the strain leaves his eyes.

"Anything for you, Princess," he says. "Any-thing."


It's a hot, sticky June day. School is out, and for the first time in months I don't have to worry about Veronica Goodman being mean to me. I used to like school, until this year. I probably wouldn't have survived if Mrs. Ellenburg, the librarian, hadn't let me hide out in the library. Lucky for me, Veronica Goodman doesn't like to read.

The lucky bean rubs in my pocket as I walk down the street toward my house. I live with my mother and my other grandparents, Me-me and Pop-pop, and my poodle, Scarlett O'Hara. Even though she's named after a famous lady in a boring movie, Scarlett O'Hara isn't very ladylike. Scarlett has bad breath and likes to chase squirrels and has taken to tinkling on the good carpet in the parlor lately, not to mention other things she shouldn't be doing.

Pop-pop's sitting in the parlor when I get home. He's listening to the radio and has got it turned up loud enough that the whole neighborhood can hear it. His favorite program is Fibber McGee and Molly, although he'll sleep through just about any program these days. We don't have a television set because Me-me says they're too expensive, which means they'll probably buy one right after I graduate high school and move out.

"I'm back," I announce.

"What's that?" he asks.

"I said, 'I'm back,' Pop-pop," I say loudly.

"What?" he asks. "What?"

Pop-pop's a little deaf. Me-me says he's been deaf ever since 1918, when he came home from Europe with shrapnel in his leg. She says he left the best part of him somewhere in France, along with his ability to listen to anyone.

There's a bad smell in the room.

"Pop-pop, what's that smell?" I ask.

"Sure, I'll take an iced tea," he says.

I spot the little brown lump behind the love seat. It looks kind of like the lucky bean Uncle Dominic gave me. Scarlett O'Hara's nowhere in sight.

"Look what Scarlett did," I say.

"Darn animal," he grumbles. Pop-pop can hear okay when he wants to. "That dog of yours is sneakier than the Japs."

Even though we're in a war right now in Korea, Pop-pop still loves talking about World War II, especially Pearl Harbor and how the Japanese attacked us when we were sleeping. He says it's the worst thing that's ever happened on American soil. No one saw it coming.

"Downright cowardly is what it was," he always says.

I don't remember the war because I was too small, but I sure am glad we won. Eating breakfast in our house is tough enough without having to worry about being bombed by the Japanese.

"Penny!" Me-me calls from the kitchen.

We have a two-story house. Me-me and Pop-pop live in the top part and Mother and I live in the bottom. My grandparents have their own bedroom, bathroom, and parlor, but they take all their meals downstairs with us because there's just the one kitchen. In fact, Me-me does most of the cooking, since my mother has to work. She's a secretary at a truck factory.

Me-me is standing with her back to me, facing the stove, when I walk into the kitchen. Her hair is going gray, and she's got it up in a bun. She's wearing a cotton dress with a red cherry print.

Me-me loves colorful prints, and she also has a dress with cabbage roses, one with fruit segments, and another one with daisies. My favorite is the dress with the Hawaiian palm trees. I think it would be fun to go someplace like Hawaii. It's got to be more exciting than New Jersey.

I don't have to look in the pot she's stirring to know it's peas and onions. The smell fills the air. Me-me likes to boil vegetables until they are pure mush and every bit of flavor is gone. I didn't even know peas could be sweet until I tasted them fresh off the vine at my grandmother Falucci's house.

"What's for dinner?" I ask.

"Liver," she says, and I have to make myself not groan.

Me-me's liver is worse than her pot roast, which is worse than her beef Stroganoff, and you don't even want to know about her meat loaf.

"Set the table, please," Me-me says.

I take the green glass dishes out of the cabinet and carry them to the dining room, where there's just a table and chairs and a sideboard. On the sideboard is an old clock and a framed photograph of my mother and father on their wedding day. We don't talk about my father in this house because it upsets my mother. I guess she's never gotten over him dying like he did and leaving her with a baby. She used to be a nurse at the hospital where he was taken when he got sick, but she said after he died, she couldn't go back there, that there were too many sad memories.

In the wedding photograph, my father is wearing a dark suit, and his arm is around my mother's waist as if he's scared she's going to run away. My mother's wearing a white satin dress and carrying a bouquet of sweet peas. Her hair is long, past her shoulders, and curled like a movie star's. She's smiling at the camera like she's the luckiest girl in the world.

She looks so happy, I almost don't recognize her.


Me-me has been staring at the clock for the last half hour while Pop-pop and I watch the liver and peas and onions get cold. Scarlett O'Hara is sitting next to Pop-pop's chair, waiting for something to fall from his plate, which is usually a good bet.

Pop-pop takes a long slurp of iced tea and burps loudly. A moment later he burps again.

"Pop-pop!" I say.

"What?" he says with a scowl.

Honestly, I don't know which is more embarrassing--Scarlett O'Hara doing her business in the house or Pop-pop burping all the time. And Mother wonders why I never want to have friends over for a slumber party.

The front door opens, and Me-me straightens her shoulders and sits a little taller.

"Sorry I'm late, Mother," my mother says, unpinning her hat and slipping into her place at the table.

She's wearing a plain navy-blue suit and has wavy golden-brown hair, cut short, just below her ears. She uses Tangee rouge on her cheeks and a little bit of red lipstick. The Tangee rouge is the fanciest thing about her.

"Do you know what time it is, Eleanor?" Me-me asks, looking pointedly at the clock. "It's seven-thirty, that's what time it is. What kind of place is that man running?"

"Mr. Hendrickson had some last-minute dictation," my mother says.

Me-me looks at my plate and says, "Eat your peas, Penny."

I take a bite, forcing myself to swallow. They're just awful. They taste like something you would feed someone you were trying to torture.

Pop-pop is poking the liver with his fork. "I thought you said we were having steak," he complains. "This looks like liver."

"Hi, Bunny," my mother says to me, and I can hear the tiredness in her voice. "How was your day?"

Bunny is her nickname for me. She said she took one look at me in the hospital and I looked so small and sweet that she knew I was a bunny.

"Look what I got," I say. I dig in my pocket and pull out the lucky bean and put it on the flower-print tablecloth.

Pop-pop starts choking when he sees it. "Did you bring a dog turd to the table?"

Scarlett O'Hara barks as if to deny she has anything to do with it.

"It's a lucky bean," I explain. "Uncle Dominic gave it to me."

"Lucky bean?" Me-me scoffs. "The only lucky thing--"

"Mother," my mother says in a warning voice.

"Your father's people," Me-me says to me with a shake of her head. What she means is that they're Italian, and Catholic.

Me-me and Pop-pop are plain old American, and Methodist. They go to church every Sunday, and usually make me go too. My mother doesn't go to any church at all.

"Here's a good one, Penny," Pop-pop says. He loves jokes. "Why does the new Italian navy have glass-bottom boats?"

"Why?"

"To see the old Italian navy!" he hoots. "Get it? Their boats are at the bottom of the ocean!"

My mother looks down at her plate and sighs.

"Mother," I say, "Uncle Ralphie says he'll hire me and Frankie to work at the store a few days a week. Can I? It could be my summer job."

Uncle Ralphie is one of my father's brothers. He owns a butcher shop.

"What will you be doing?" she asks.

"Sweeping up, stacking, delivering groceries."

"Deliver groceries to strange people's houses? You're a young girl," Me-me says, sounding appalled.

"I don't think so, Penny," Mother says, which is what she always says.

My mother's afraid of just about everything that involves fun. I can't go swimming because there might be polio in the public pool. I can't go to the movie theater because I might catch polio there, too. I can't go on the bumper cars because I could hurt my neck. Don't do this, Penny! Don't do that, Penny! It's too dangerous, Penny! Any-thing could happen, Penny! Sometimes I want to say that the most dangerous thing in my life is Me-me's cooking.

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Penny from Heaven 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 135 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this book!! It was so good! It was an easy book to read yet it was very descriptive and very easy to understand. This book made me laugh and it even made me cry in some parts! (which for me is very hard to do) And most important it was very educational. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone from an Italian family, and even if you are not Italian, I think you would still LOVE this book like I did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is really good! I am currently reading it and I am at the end! It gets better and better as you get farther into the book! The author perfectly expresses the different emotions of each character. As I was reading, I could hear the Italian accents in my head!
east_side_bees More than 1 year ago
In this book, a girl named Penny lives with her maternal grandparents, her mother, and an un-housebroken poodle named Scarlet O'Hara in 1953.Penny's father died when she was very young. Although her father died, she still visits her father's Italian family. Penny has a hard time dealing with her father's death. Her mother is very protective over Penny.Over the summer,Penny really wants to go to the pool,but her mother is afraid she will get polio.Penny has always wondered why her father died, and in the book, her curiosity grows, especially because the two families cannot get along.Penny works in her uncle's butcher shop with her cousin, Frankie. Frankie is Penny's best friend. The story tells about many interesting adventures they get into, including an accident that sends Penny to the hospital. Both sides of her family visit her while she is in the hospital, and they tell her stories about her father that gives her clues about his death. I think this book is very good and it is funny as well as interesting. I would recommend this book to any of my friends.This book is not that thrilling at first but as you get into the book, it gets more and more exciting.I think the author of this book did a great job at keeping the reader interested while making them laugh at the same time.
TaylorB29 More than 1 year ago
This story is set in 1953 New Jersey. This has an effect on this story because of the characters. Penny, the main character, is a young girl that is EASILY relatable to, as are her crazy Italian family from her father's side of the family, who all treat Penny like a princess. I root for Penny as she undergoes a character development. All the characters talk as a normal or very busy and crazy, family would. Penny lives with her loud and very opinionated Pop-Pop, Me-Me, a widowed Mother, and the naughty Scarlett O' Hara, the house dog. She has tons of very unique uncles and trying to grow up and live is all Penny wants. There's much mystery in the finding out of information of her much missed father, Alfredo, or Freddy. You'll be filled with suspense to see what happens when Cousin Frankie and Penny get mischievous. The overall theme is familiar, but with a very fresh twist. The main theme here is: "Everything will be just fine"-also, "Friends are God's way of apologizing for your family."
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!!! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very good. If you are interested in a story that tells about a family this book will be the one for you now I don't want to ruin it for you, but this book is very good. You should go now and buy it!
samSL More than 1 year ago
This story is set in 1953 New Jersey. This has an effect on this story because of the characters. Penny, the main character, is a young girl that is EASILY relatable to, as are her crazy Italian family from her father's side of the family, who all treat Penny like a princess. I root for Penny as she undergoes a character development. All the characters talk as a normal or very busy and crazy, family would. Penny lives with her loud and very opinionated Pop-Pop, Me-Me, a widowed Mother, and the naughty Scarlett O' Hara, the house dog. She has tons of very unique uncles and trying to grow up and live is all Penny wants. There's much mystery in the finding out of information of her much missed father, Alfredo, or Freddy. You'll be filled with suspense to see what happens when Cousin Frankie and Penny get mischievous. The overall theme is familiar, but with a very fresh twist. The main theme here is: "Everything will be just fine"-also, "Friends are God's way of apologizing for your family."
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
PENNY FROM HEAVEN, a new offering by author Jennifer L. Holm, is an excellent pick for middle grade readers. Set in the early 1950's, it tells a story of everyday life and rich Italian heritage.

Penny lives with her mother and her grandparents. At the start of the novel, she's almost twelve. Most of her time is spent hanging out in the neighborhood with her cousin and best friend, Frankie.

Bike riding would be fun, but Penny's bike was unfortunately backed over in the driveway. Going swimming in the city pool or taking in an afternoon matinee sounds like quality entertainment, but Penny's mom believes those places are breeding grounds for the dreaded polio everyone seems to be contracting. That doesn't leave much to do, but Penny and Frankie always seem to find something to get into. It might be an attempt to fix the leaky toilet that turns into a major repair job, or the secret mission to discover if great-grandma Nonny wears black underwear to match her old-fashioned black dresses.

Penny is surrounded by tons of Italian aunts and uncles, but she misses her father. His death years ago is still shrouded in mystery, one that Penny seems unable to uncover. Her mother is becoming interested in Mr. Mulligan, the milkman. Penny's attempts to pair her mother up with favorite Uncle Dominic fail miserably.

Day-to-day life is pretty predictable for Penny and her family until the unthinkable happens. After a tragic accident, Penny finds herself making plans for a very different life. Readers' emotions will be tested as Penny's story unfolds.

Jennifer L. Holm is also known for Newbery Honor book OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA and her BOSTON JANE series, which is my personal favorite.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a funny novel about an eleven year old girl,Penny, in the summer of 1953. Penny is living with her grandmother, her grandfather, her mother, and their un-housebroken dog, Scarlet O'Hara. Penny's father is dead and nobody will tell her the secret surrounding his death. Although Penny is lucky to have her deceased father's Italian-American family to spoil her, she still misses her Dad. The characters are well fleshed out and you get the feeling that you are there in 1953 in that car with Uncle Dominic or eating an authentic Italian meal with the family.The book is a snapshot of what it was like to be growing up in the 1950's. World War II is still affecting the family in that they only speak English in public. Penny cannot swim in a public pool for fear she will contact polio. The book is about the importance of family, friends and also contains a mystery about buried treasure as well as her father's death. This is a good read for Middle Schoolers with its quirky, yet realistic characters. I think young people can identify with the story today even though it is set in the 1950's. Read it. You will not be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Penny is an 11 year old girl who lives in New York in 1953. Her journey through the summer she turns 12 is humorous and sensitive. Penny lives with her mother and maternal grandparents. Her father died when she was a baby. Her father's family lives close by and neither family will talk about her father. She's not even sure how he died. During this particular summer she shares many exciting adventures with her cousin Frankie. He is a typical encourager of naughtiness!! He's fun-loving and Penny is very close to him and empathetic to his circumstances. This book is written authentically from a child's perspective and is entertaining from beginning to end. If you enjoy stories about family relationships and the things that hold them together AND break them apart...read Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm '2006'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ihave the book cover and its great so far im on page 92-95. My friend read it she said it was sad bit good at the same time i really like this book i havent been so obsessed with a book since i read snowfall i really LOVE this book and im only ten and i love reading so much and just for a ten year old im writing a story called The Detective its really good so far, anyway i really love Penny From Heaven its so good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How can there be so many 3/5s and 4/5s? This is an amazing book, and made my summer. Good for any reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This the best book you could ever read in tbis world it is heart warming and gives a very good lesson, two thumbs up! Would recommend it to anyone!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Penny from heaven is a great book it keeps u intested the whole time. I love that the book was funny sad and eveything you would want to read in a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With 21 chapters and156 pages PENNY FROM HEAVEN is the best book I have read. At one point I start crying and laugh at the same time. NO JOKE! I am a picky reader and I could not put this book down. You might be wondering, what is this amazing book about. Well, it is about a girl named Penny Falucci that grows up in the 1950s. With her father past away, she lives with her grandmother Me-Me, her grandfather Pa-Pa, and her mother. With her huge father's family she enjoys eating dinner and hangin' out. Both sides don't get along, but mean while Penny has many sad and fun adventures throught the book. I can't tell you, but trust me you will enjoy this book. READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Penny from Heaven is an amazing book about a summer gone wrong. From from a leaky toilet to her mother dating the milkman, searching for underground (not buried) treasure to a misshap with the wringer, Penny is having a memorible summer, but not because it was happy. It was an amazing book. I would give it 6 stars if I could!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! Everyone should read this book! It gives you a true feeling of famly differculties. Before this book i thought that only my family had problems but now I see that other families are having way more differculties than me. This story goes from happy to sad in a matter of minutes. You must read this book! My teacher worked on a lot of projects for the United States having to do with reading and english and now she and I have read the book more than once and think that it is by sure the best book i and she has ever read. This book is also not just for girls, also for boys! If everyone would read this book the world would be way different!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please read this book and tell me how you like it!
bookworm123AL More than 1 year ago
There are many positives about this book. There were likable characters in the story such as Frankie and Uncle Dominic. Frankie was mischievous with a good sense of humor and a fun personality. Uncle Dominic treated Penny as if she were his own daughter. He made sure that Penny was happy. Also, the setting was in the 1950s and the author was very descriptive about this time period. "Penny from Heaven" was an easy to understand novel that many 12 year-olds would enjoy. However, this book requires patience because it did not grab the reader's attention right away. The story moved slowly. There were small things that happened to Penny but the ending was the most exciting. I would recommend this novel because it was interesting in some areas and it was easy to read and understand. This book is a Newbury Honor book which is a high award for children's books. The characters are funny and lovable and there is a happy ending. Most readers will like this book.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Penny's real name is Barbara, but she's always been called Penny after the song lyric, "pennies from heaven." She lives with her mother and grandparents; her father is dead, but on his side of the family is a large, loving Italian American extended family complete with grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The summer she is eleven-going-on-twelve is in the 1950s, and Penny gets a chance to work at her uncle's butcher shop.I found Penny to be a really likable heroine, and her story is charming. Amber Sealey is an excellent narrator, not only capturing Penny's voice, but also managing a bunch of Italian-accented English that still sounded like individual characters (though not having any Italian relatives, I couldn't tell you how accurate the accent was!). Penny's interactions with her various family members are realistic, and easily relatable. Though this is technically historical fiction, it's based at least partly on the author's own experience growing up, and the history is more of a fact of her life - such as her grandfather's experience in the war - rather than a lesson. A really enjoyable read that I highly recommend.
meisbres on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved the scene where the milkman (Penny's mom's boyfriend) comes to dinner and has to eat grandma's awful peas and onions dish, listen to grandpa's burping, and endure Scarlett O'Hara, the dog, peeing on his shoe,
puppetmaster101 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Awesome book!! a must read! It's about life, death, family, and love
RoseMarion on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm is a very sweet novel. Barbara Falucci, better known as Penny, is an 11 year old girl growing up in New Jersey in 1950s America. Her Italian father is deceased so Penny lives with her American mother and grandparents. While she loves them, she really enjoys spending time with her father's eccentric extended family. From really delicious meals to her favorite Uncle Dominic, spending time with the Falucci's and all of their cousins is a true treat!The summer Penny turns 12 is filled with time working at Uncle Ralphie's store, adventures with her sarcastic yet loving cousin Frankie, bad hair days, Nonni's food, her cat passing away, her mother dating the milk man, and baseball games. One unfortunate event causes Penny to be in the hospital for many weeks. It is during this time that Penny truly grows as a person and receives needed answers about her father. Penny from Heaven is a nostalgic read with great well-rounded characters. If you have any Italian heritage, then you will really connect with this story because the characters are so authentic. I listened to this story on Audio CD, and Amber Sealey does a wonderful job with the Eastern and Italian accents! This is a fun and well-written historical fiction novel...enjoy! :)
knielsen83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story set in the 1950's about a girl whose father is dead and a series of events leads her to realize more about the death of her father. It had a nice twist to it and really kept your attention while reading.
Afsolove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eleven-year-old Penny loves her father's Italian family. Even though her father died before she was born, she spends as much time as she can with her loud uncles and aunts. She can't understand why her "plain old American" mother and grandparents don't seem to like them. As she approaches her twelfth-birthday, Penny begins to learn the truth about the relationship between her mother and her father's family--and exactly what caused her father's mysterious death. There are moments when Penny from Heaven truly shines. The love Penny shares with both her families is truly moving. Penny has some startling moments of self-realization. And the characters, from a burping grandfather to a vividly-described Italian nonna, are delightfully three-dimentional. Unfortunately, the book is poorly paced. The beginning of the book is episodic, leading up to a climax for which the reader is completely unprepared, presented in a rushed and confused way. Holm doesn't sufficiently tease the reader with the mysterious cause of Penny's father's death, so the true, historical facts that led up to it don't hit home the way they should. While some readers will enjoy the charming, first-person narrative, most members of the intended audience are more likely to be bored than entertained.
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Continuing my quest to read all Newbery award winning books, this one is one of the favorites. Told from the perspective of 11 year old Penny Fulucci, it contains a cast of likeable, colorful characters that are quirky, eccentric and loveable.The setting is 1950 in post WWII small town New Jersey where Penny resides with her widowed mother and maternal grandparents. Penny's father died when she was a baby and while Penny's mother is estranged from her father's side of the family, she accepts that they are an integral part of her life. They are Italian, emotional, loving and try their best to fill the gap for fatherless Penny.Penny's best buddy and cousin Frankie is one step away from reform school. Uncle Dominic is "pazza", which translates to crazy in Italian. He lives in a car. They, along with Uncle Nunzo, Uncle Paulie, Uncle Al, Aunt Gina and grandmother Nonny provide a reference for a culture rich in tradition, filled with the hope of retaining the best values of their heritage while embracing American ideals of freedom and liberty.This begins as a quiet, unassuming book with details regarding the 1950's. Penny has a sense of humor; the characters are well developed and the reader is lulled into a coming of age tale, until, events spiral and Penny learns of the circumstances regarding her father's death.Using information from Lawrence DiStasi's, Una Storia Segreta: The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment During World War II, the author teaches the many ways that Italian Americans were subjugated in the 1940's and 1950's.Punished by the government for Italy's role in WWII, Franklin Roosevelt signed Proclamation 2527, thereby labeling non-naturalized Italians as enemies.While I knew of the terrible internment of Japanese Americans, I did not know that 600,000 Italians had to carry enemy identification booklets and it was mandated they could not speak the Italian, the "enemy language."Even though they were law-abiding citizens, the author notes that over 3,000 Italian Americans were arrested and hundreds sent to campus.Jennifer Holm is a three-time Newbery honor winner. She is an author who provides a story and characters that stay with the reader long after the last page is finished.Highly recommended!