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Penny from Heavenby Jennifer L Holm
Synopses & Reviews
The town of Marysville, in upstate New York, where Doug and his family have moved , has six blocks of houses as tiny and beat up as theirs, eighteen houses with flags outside, and one library that, as Doug discovers, is open only on Saturday. On the cool, marbled second floor of the library, he finds a table with a glass case under which there is a huge book opened to a painting of a bird. It is the most terrifying and beautiful picture he has ever seen. It is Audubons Arctic Tern. He imagines drawing it in the air with his fingers. Also at the library Doug meets smart Lil Spicer, whose father owns a deli and who offers Doug a job as a delivery boy. And so begins Dougs Saturday routine: He learns from the librarian, Mr. Powell, about the principles of Audubons art, but some of the plates are mysteriously missing, and Doug vows to make the book whole again. At school, Doug runs into trouble with his teachers, especially the So-Called Gym teacher, which earns him a number of after school detentions. At home, his father, a stern man with quick hands, often brings the unsavory Ernie Eco to dinner, his older brother, Christopher, is accused of stealing, and his oldest brother, Lucas, returns from Vietnam with a bandage covering his burned eyes and in a wheelchair because he has lost his legs. Gary Schmidt interweaves multiple themes of loss and recovery, art and inventiveness, truth and lies in a story teaming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the “skinny thug” that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicera fiery young lady who “smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain.” In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubons birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage. In this stunning novel, Schmidt expertly weaves multiple themes of loss and recovery in a story teeming with distinctive, unusual characters and invaluable lessons about love, creativity, and survival.
Inspired by Newbery Honor winner 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. Most of all, it's a story about families--about the things that tear them apart and bring them together.
About the Author
Jennifer L. Holm is the author of several highly praised novels, including Our Only May Amelia and the Babymouse series. She lives in Fallston, Maryland, with her husband, Jonathan Hamel, their son Will, and a rather large cat named Princess Leia.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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