Synopses & Reviews
Jennifer Holm's New York Times
bestselling, Newbery Honor Winner is the story of a summer of adventures and secrets that will change everything, at a time in America’s history, just after World War II, when being Italian-American meant confronting prejudice because you'd been the enemy not that long ago .
It’s 1953 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 dog, Scarlett O'Hara, is sick. Her favorite uncle is living in a car. Her best friend is turning into a criminal. And no one will tell Penny the truth about how her father died.
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 additional background on World War II, Internment camps and 1950s America, as well as additional resources and websites.
"Holm impressively wraps pathos with comedy in this coming-of-age story, populated by a cast of vivid characters."
"This is Schmidt's best novel yet—darker than The Wednesday Wars and written with more restraint, but with the same expert attention to voice, character and big ideas."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Reproductions of Audubon plates introduce each chapter in this stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing ones best self, despite family pressure to do otherwise."—Booklist, starred review
"Readers will miss Doug and his world when theyre done, and will feel richer for having experienced his engaging, tough, and endearing story."—School Library Journal, starred review
"The book is exceptionally well written. Schmidt creates characters that will remain with the reader long after the book is done. Dougs voice is unforgettable as he tries to help and protect his mom. . . .While there is much stacked against him, he is a character filled with hope that the reader cannot help but root for. Push this one on readers; they will not be sorry. . . .Schmidt writes a journal-type story with a sharp attention to detail, patterns in the story line, and an unexpected twist at the end."-VOYA
Its1953 and 11-year-old Penny dreams of a summer of butter pecan ice cream, swimming, and baseball. But nothings that easy in Pennys family. For starters, she cant go swimming because her mothers afraid shell catch polio at the pool. To make matters worse, her favorite uncle is living in a car. Her Nonny cries every time her fathers name is mentioned. And the two sides of her family arent speaking to each other!
Inspired by Newbery Honor winner Jennifer Holms own Italian American family, Penny from Heaven is a shining story about the everyday and the extraordinary, about a time in Americas history, not all that long ago, when being Italian meant that you were the enemy. But most of all, its 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 Nonnys. So pull up a chair and enjoy the feast! Buon appetito!
From the Hardcover edition.
In this stunning novel, Newbery Honor winner Gary D. 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.
National Book Award Finalist "[A] stealthily powerful, unexpectedly affirming story of discovering and rescuing ones best self."—Booklist, starred review In this companion novel to The Wednesday Wars, Doug struggles to be more than the "skinny thug" that some people think him to be. He finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer, who gives him the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. 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.
About the Author
Gary D. Schmidt is the bestselling author of Okay For Now, the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and the Newbery Honor book The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.