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Three Pennies

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  440 ratings  ·  112 reviews
A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this spare and beautifully told novel about last chances and new opportunities.

For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everythi
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by S&S/Atheneum
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
This was overall a really cute read about a young girl in the foster system and a woman who really wants a kid. There are four different points of view going on through this, which is amazing considering how short it is and how well everyone's personalities were conveyed. I thought this handled the emotions of a foster kid fairly well (though I have no experience in that) especially with feelings of denial and abandonment. This also shared light on a woman who really wanted a kid but wasn't sure ...more
Amber K.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I adored this book. It's perfect for my fourth graders. Told from three perspectives and in poetic prose, this is perfect for readers that are ready for something deep and real, yet appropriate for their age and sensitivity. I will definitely be adding this to my list for Mock Newbery 2017. 😀 ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Three Pennies is a lyrical tale about a foster child who dreams of someday finding her birth mother and living a happily-ever-after ending, comes alive under the skillful storytelling of Melanie Chowder. Since the age of four, foster child, Marin has been shuffled through the foster care system, living in less than satisfactory conditions every time. When she finally is assigned to Gilda Blackbourne a no-nonsense, rule oriented case worker, who must pick the best home for her next foster placeme ...more
Cassie Thomas
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"You and I are like two halves of a bone trying to connect after a bad break." This story pulled on my heart strings big time. I can absolutely relate to Marin in so many ways. I love the intertwined messages of the Owl's thoughts, Marin, and Gilda (the social worker). This story is in our #MockNewbery and it's one that will definitely give the students opportunities to think deeply. ...more
Aliza Werner
Beautifully crafted in its storytelling and delicately handled in its subject matter. Abandoned by her mother at a young age, Marin has bounced from foster home to foster home. When her social worker brings her the news that a woman is interested in adopting her, Marin wonders if her birth mother might still actually want her back. Like the San Francisco ground beneath her feet, her future may be on shaky ground. Perhaps the best thing to do is to hold tight to the most steady thing in her life.
The Reading Countess
Poetic. Gorgeous tale about being open to love despite your weariness of being hurt. While our past colors our present, it doesn't have to define us in ways that we don't wish it to. We can be mothered by people other than the one who birthed us, and we can detect and even accept when motherhood doesn't fit the person we called 'mother.' Broken wings can heal. Hearts can be filled. Flipped pennies can all turn up heads.
Highly recommended
The writing reminded me of MAYBE A FOX.
Michele Knott
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved how the story was written with the different narrators and what each narrator contributed to the story. The quick pace had me finishing this book quickly, yet it already landed a spot in my heart.
Scott Fillner
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Short chapters, diffenerent perspectives, sage advice, opportunities 4 discussion, & strong writing. Yes, I am putting this on my #MockNewbery
Ms. Yingling
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Marin has been in a foster home since she was four and her mother abandoned her. She has never given up hope that her mother will return, and carries a piggy bank and a copy of the I Ching with her to remind her of her mother. When her new social worker, Gilda, tells Marin that her mother has terminated parental rights, freeing Marin to be adopted, Marin decides that she will do everything she can to make herself unpleasant. She is placed with Lucy Chang, a
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I say this with a very usually-open but currently-judging heart; how anyone could give this book less than five stars absolutely blows my mind. ‪This book is proof that it only takes 181 pages to get ALL the feels... fear, loss, love, and hope. Absolutely bawling our eyes out in the best of ways.

- - -

“Well, I had someone whom I really loved. And she loved me, too. But the ground shook terribly one day, as it does sometimes, and she didn’t make it out of a building that collapsed.”

“A heart is d
While my rating was only 3 stars, I do think that plenty of other people might like this book more than I did. The story was just a bit too slow/ephemeral for me, especially considering its intended audience (middle grade readers).

Marin is on a mission to find her mother. The mother who walked away from her when she was 4 years old. The mother who has not ever tried to contact her. The mother who has signed papers officially giving her up and allowing adoption proceedings to begin. Marin is sure
Christina Hanson
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The bird who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones." This is just one bit of wisdom from the owl in @melanieacrowder's latest book, Three Pennies.
Marin has been bounced around foster homes since she was four years old. Despite all of her moves, she always carries with her three pennies and a book, I Ching (The Book of Changes). Now that she's eleven, Marin is becoming even more curious as to who her birth mother is, and thinks if she finds her, Marin can convince her they belo
After reading Three Pennies, I can say that Melanie Crowder's books will always have a place on the shelves in my 5/6 classroom. They are great stories, well told. I categorized Three Pennies as "realistic" even with occasional chapters from an owl's perspective, mostly because it's not the fanciful world that I fell in love with in A Nearer Moon. Three Pennies is a tribute to foster kids and the good-hearted adults, both social workers and foster parents, who work hard to find them homes. ...more
Tricia Douglas
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 4.5 Marin has been shuffled through foster homes and now has the possibility of being adopted. Using I Ching and three pennies she tries to answer and solve her problems and fears of change that revolve around her. She still hopes to find her birth mother and find out why she left Marin on her own. A good book about a topic many children would like to read about.
Sherry Guice
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very quick and beautiful read...alternating story of a young girl who is struggling to find her mother and the owl who watches it all...
Kiersten Engle
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this book so much it’s like a mixture of happiness and sadness and it’s such a sweet book and so easy to read Marin and Lucy are the best family ever there like two halves United into one
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it
A nice little story that wrapped up neatly. Kids will find this a satisfying read.
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Short, with many points of view, and sweet.
Mary Louise Sanchez
Marin lives in San Francisco and is going to undergo a big change, after living in foster homes for many years. A single, Asian woman doctor is interested in possibly adopting Marin but Marin wants to find her birth mother first and convince her that they can still be a family. When Marin moves in with the doctor, she searches for her mother, using her own name as a clue. Then, shifts take place in Marin's life, just like the shifting tectonic plates in the Bay area.

This story is told from the
Christine Fitzgerald
Sweet story absolutely it a girl I foster care struggling to come to terms with the fact that her mother gave her up.
Mar 02, 2020 added it
I think this is a great book that opens up what being abandoned really feels like. This book has a theme of excepting changes that you originally thought were bad.
Vernon Area Public Library KIDS
Melanie Crowder writes a book about family. After Marin is abandoned by her mother, she gets bounced around from one foster care home to another. The only thing that keeps her going is the secret dream that her birth mother will eventually come back to her. When she finally is given the opportunity to be with a loving woman who really wants her, Marin struggles with giving up her dream. Recommended for students in grades 4-6.
Reviewed by Carol Kaner, Youth and School Services, Vernon Area Public
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful short story (novel), great for 4th grade and up, about Marin, a girl abandoned by her mother at 4 years to the foster care system in San Francisco. Marin has never given up hope that she will be reunited with her mother, but, at 11, she is now eligible to be adopted by a family. What happens when she is placed with a potential adoptive mother and her attempts to track down her birth mother (under the watchful eye of a neighbor's owl) and her habitual use of the I Ching made for a heart ...more
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mock-newbery
Crowder's writing is lovely, and I can see this as a Newbery contender. However, as a reader, I was frustrated by several things:

1. Is this really written for kids? p. 82: "What weighs more -- a city or an ocean? Both press down upon the earth with the ponderous weight of the souls they carry. Below the leagues of water, below the sand and the skeletons of sunken ships and the bones of creatures who lived and thrashed about and sank to the ocean floor thousands of years ago, the tectonic plates
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A solid little novel with highly likable characters. You will root for everyone and not be disappointed that the happy ending was a tad predictable. Still not sure what the owl's significance was, but enjoyed its inclusion. I plan to purchase for my elementary library based on it dealing with a foster kid and a deadbeat parent. ...more
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I picked this up to read a few chapters, but before I knew it, I'd read the entire thing in one sitting. I absolutely adored this book, so I'm gonna gush a little.

With a storytelling style reminiscent of DiCamillo, a theme similar to another of my favorites (Beasley's Gertie's Leap to Greatness), and divination as an element of the novel, perhaps I shouldn't be as blown away as I am, and yet.

There are so many things to love about Three Pennies; from the care the author took to research the
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

This book is right at the edge of children's/middle-grade. The writing style reminds me a lot of classic children's books, where it doesn't have a true narrator per se but does feel like someone is telling you a story. It took me a few (incredibly short) chapters to get used to, but after that, I found it rather charming.

This book is very understanding of the fact that Marin still feels connected to her birth mother, and her struggle to accept how much she likes her foster mother becaus
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, middle-grade
Mixed thoughts on this one. This is one where I really want to hear from my middle grade readers after they've read it.

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Marin strives to be invisible as she bounces from foster home to the next waiting on her mom to come back. Her story and the characters are believable. When Marin discovers that her mom is relinquishing her rights to Marin, Marin is determined to do what it takes to track down her mom - even if it means disappointing and hurting her pot
I feel bad that I didn't like this book more.

I've only heard great things about it and was looking forward to reading it.

The writing is beautiful: poetic, descriptive, lyrical, and philosophical.

We have some unusual view points: fault lines deep beneath the earth, a formerly injured owl, a rule following CPS employee, an accomplished doctor who longs for a child, and Marin, a girl who desperately wants her mother to come and reclaim her from her foster home.

The story was lovely, exploring mother
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Marin has been in the foster care system for seven years with her only constants being a piggy bank, three pennies, and a pocket-size I Ching, a divination text. The answers have never been clear when Marin casts her pennies down and interprets them from her tiny book, but things become even more muddled as she begins to find a true forever home. A forever home would mean her birth mother could never claim her again... is that what she really wants?

Marin's journey is both emotional and physical
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Melanie Crowder graduated in 2011 with an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of THREE PENNIES, AN UNINTERRUPTED VIEW OF THE SKY, A NEARER MOON, AUDACITY, PARCHED, and THE LIGHTHOUSE BETWEEN THE WORLDS and A WAY BETWEEN WORLDS.

A West Coast girl at heart, Melanie now lives and writes in the beautiful state of Colorado.

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