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Penny Dreadful

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  798 ratings  ·  164 reviews
The perfect book for girls and boys who look to find adventure and magic in surprising places!

What if you were really bored with your life? What would you wish for?

Penelope Grey wishes for something—anything!—interesting to happen, and here’s what she gets:

• Her father quits his job.
• Her family runs out of money.
• Her home becomes a pit of despair.

So Penelope makes anoth
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Random House Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2010)
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Joshua D Not that strange since "Penny Dreadful" is an actual term used to describe the cheap (hence the name) serialized fiction that was popular in Britain…moreNot that strange since "Penny Dreadful" is an actual term used to describe the cheap (hence the name) serialized fiction that was popular in Britain during the 1800s. They were basically the Victorian equivalent of pulps.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  798 ratings  ·  164 reviews

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Jan 19, 2010 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote this book.
I am a flack.
But now I cannot
take it back.

Five orange stars
I'll give my book,
in hopes you'll take
a little look.

Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kiddos, novels
I would have given this three stars, but I polled my three children, and they gave it four, four and five stars, respectively, thus creating a four-reader average of four stars.

Penelope is a bookish girl of 9 who is bored with her life and wishes for something interesting to happen. And that's where the trouble starts. This was a slow-burn kind of read, and was one of the first times in my years of reading kids' books out loud to my kids where I felt they were getting more out of the story than
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of this book or the author before deciding to give it a shot as bedtime reading for my six year old daughter. From the cover copy I saw it shared traits with books we've read to her so far such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Holes, Half Magic. These books each feature young protagonists and the element of magic. The twist in Penny Dreadful is that by the end we're not certain if magic ever really played a part in what took place or if certain critical events were instead ...more
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Susann by: Wendy
Re-read for May, 2014 VSC discussion. Really want to read more Snyder.
"She danced and danced, and when she was done, she lay panting in the dirt. It felt very good, like she'd let out all her worries."

Wendy was right. I am loving this and am very glad that I went completely out of my way to pick it up from the library.
Update: sweet and real and substantial. It's hard to imagine the bookish young girl (or the bookish formerly young girl) who wouldn't enjoy this. The literary references
Sep 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Sweet and fun. It's the kind of book I would have loved when I was a child, full of references to other books, with a bit of trouble and a lot of humor. The characters are quirky without being scary, there's enough backstory but not too much, and it's, well, wholesome. Sweet is the proper word, I think- but the sweet of raspberries, not the sweet of candy bars.
Oct 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
All around just dee-lightful. But not enough to poke my own eye out with a knitting needle.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Just too implausible, though it does advice 'real people don't have lives like book characters' kind of thing. ? Charming, and as a child I would have loved it... but now I'm feeling a little cynical. And of course I'm concerned that the kids didn't take proper care when exploring a cave, and might inspire child readers to take real risks.

I did like the idea that, before Penelope had friends, she solved her boredom with books. When she got tired of just reading, she started *doing.* Taking a boo
Elena Mills
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have decided to change my review. It was short and didn't do the book justice. So here is a better one: I really liked this story. It was simple and sweet, and gives a short look into country life. It explains the concept of poverty in a level that younger persons can understand, and explains debt through sick llamas! There are all kinds of families pictured there, from Willa and Jenny, Twents two moms, to Luella and her mother and sister, to Duncan and his over-protective parents, to Penny an ...more
Ten-year-old Penelope Grey lives in a mansion in the city with her parents but is bored. Two wishes made in the family wishing well seem to move the plot along by changing the Greys' circumstances, though this connection isn't explicitly made. At other points in the novel, Penny will search for similar signs and guidance and will find what she needs, though Snyder keeps it ambiguous so that it doesn't seem as if Penny is being handed easy answers by plot conventions.

The similarity and difference
Colby Sharp
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Every day during the school year I I call my 25+ fourth graders over to the carpet and do my best to help them become better writers. I model for them: leads, character development, revision, elaboration, and a slew of other lessons to push them along as writers. At times I feel that I am a pretty good writer. My lessons go well, and I see what I model in the writing of my fourth graders.

My head never gets too big as a writer, but by the time summer comes and I flip through my students writer’s
Jul 13, 2011 rated it liked it
I am clearly in the minority as far as my opinion of this book goes. It's cute, well written, and charming in most of the right ways. I love that Penny refers to all my favorite books (among them Unfortunate Events, Anne of Green Gables, Penderwicks...). What bugged me more and more as the book progressed, however, were two primary things:

1. the lack of any strong male character. Even Penny's dad, after he's brave enough to quit his major corporate job, still lets Penny's mom call the shots. C'm
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-lit
What a fun book—I picked it up off the new book shelf for Maddie, started reading it while waiting for Bridget to finish story time, and was hooked immediately. The characters are smart and thoughtful, the plot follows a somewhat predictable line (rich family loses riches and must figure out what to do) but it still holds lots of sweet (and sometimes funny) surprises and misunderstandings, and an ending that is satisfying without being a pat happy ending. I loved all the references to books; the ...more
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mid-reader
What to read next Oh what to read next! sigh I have the ARC and all the comments say this is just the right thing! lol

I loved this book-it's exactly the kind of book that would have been one of my favorites when I was a little girl! I loved all the mentions of other books that were Penny's favorites(alot of them were my favorites too)I will definetely be recommending this title to customers at my bookstore.

Penny Dreadful
Laurel Snyder

Penelope is bored-
So she makes a wish
for something, anything
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
The ending is wonderful, the story is much fun. It is a story about discovery - Penelope discovers Penny, her dad discovers cooking, her mother discovers garbage, and they all discover their magical inner resources. I am a wisher - sometimes its prayer, sometimes its just wishing - and know the power of wishing (so you have to be super careful), so I appreciated Penny's wishes, appreciated her faith and also her realization that it isn't enough to wish - you have to DO something too. ...more
A childrens book lovers paradise. Snyder name checks old favorites as well as new ones. She plays with conventions and expectations. She provides a diverse cast of characters naturally, without making age, color, sexual orientation, or disability as issue. It's totally enchanting, and filled with adventure and novelty, and if I could move into a book, this is my first choice.
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Words that come to mind: Charming, delightful, quirky. This book reminded me of Roald Dahl stories I loved as a child...full of adventure and mystery and odd characters. Nine-year-old Penny wishes for something interesting to happen and it does -- but in unexpected ways. The family goes from rich to poor, city to country, and adventure follows.
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like adventure stories and that is an adventurous story. I enjoyed reading Penny Dreadful and I think you will too!
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidlit
What's not to like about a book that mentions Betsy-Tacy, Anne of Green Gables, and "Over the Rainbow"? Not to mention "chickabidee." :)
Jamie Forrest
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! The characters in this book are charming and I couldn't help but fall in love with them. Once I got started, I couldn't put it down!
Linda Atkinson
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Skyler recommended it and now I do too :-)
Oct 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, middle-grade
This is a hard book to summarize because the beginning is so incredibly different from the rest of the book. It all goes together. The difference doesn't cause any jarring shifts for the reader, and circumstances in the opening make the rest of the book make sense, but this is not a book about a little rich girl who moves to the county, as the first couple chapters would have you believe. Yes, Penelope has grown up rich, but finances quickly deteriorate in the Grey household after her father lea ...more
Beth G.
Penelope Grey has a perfectly fine life. She lives in a big mansion in the City, where all the household chores are taken care off by pleasant staff. She doesn't even have to go to school, as a tutor comes to her. Her parents - on the rare occasions that she sees them - are nice. She has a couple of nice playmates. Everything is nice. Nice... and really, really boring. She escapes into book after book (the shout-outs to familiar titles are a nice touch), finally deciding to do something that the ...more
Madigan Mirza
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommend
Penelope Grey leads a pretty regulated life at her family's mansion in the city, with a private tutor, maid and chef to take care of her every need. Bored, she decides to make a wish in an old well, for an everything change - a total life transformation. Shortly thereafter, her father quits his steady job in order to become a writer, something that leads to the financial ruin of the family, and an eventual move to an old great-aunt's house in the country which they've inherited in the small town ...more
Dawn Teresa
Sep 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers of The Penderwicks
I had the chance to read this book as a winner of a Good Reads First Reads giveaway. One day, a nice hardcover arrived in my mailbox, along with a bookmark. And the book was autographed! Pretty neat.

Well, it took me longer than I had planned to get around to reading this story, but I'm glad I finally did. It is a delightful little tale of a young girl named Penelope Grey, who wishes that something interesting would happen in her life, something like what would happen in a book.

Her father quits h
Cindy Hudson
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Penny and her parents live a rather privileged though somewhat isolated life in New York City. One day Penny is feeling rather bored and writes a wish to throw into the fountain in her back yard: “I wish something interesting would happen when I least expect it, just like in a book.”

The next thing she knows, her dad has quit his job and the family is rapidly falling into dire financial straits. It’s not exactly what Penny had in mind when she wished from something interesting. When Penny’s mom i
Sarah Sammis
Oct 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sarah by: Abby the Librarian
Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder is about Penelope Grey and her parents who go through some major life changing events. As the book opens, Penelope is living in a huge house in the center of The City where she is home schooled and looked after more by the servants than her ever busy parents. While she knows she has a good life, it's not a fulfilling one.

A wish for something exciting to happen coincides with a huge change in her life. It begins with her father, heir to the family business, and sou
Penelope Grey is an only child who lives in a large house in The City with her parents, Dirk and Delia. She is so bored with her life and wishes it were different, so she makes a wish in a well and hopes for something exciting to happen. Penelope ends up getting her wish in spades.

After Dirk unexpectedly quits his job, the Greys begin cutting back on expenses in order to make ends meet. They let go of their household help, and the house starts getting dirty...not to mention their clothes. Penelo
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have been so impressed by everything I have read by Laurel Snyder and this one is no exception! (Previously I have read "Any Which Wall" and "Bigger than a Bread Box.") As I read, I am so excited to recommend the books to many of my student readers in my library. Her main characters are believable children with believable lives, but she introduces some element of magic that keeps us interested.

In this case the "magic" is more subdued - it could be true or not - but it still exists! Penelope G
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very funny sweet book which is not at all preachy so please don't let the quote I am sharing put you off reading it. The quote just fitted the day...or was contemplation given to me unasked for, which the really good things to meditate on often are!
"Problems don't always get fixed.Lots of the time things are boring and dumb for no good reason. Or even terrible.And you can't do anything about it.That's life."
Penny thought about this for a minute. Then she sighed."I know," she said. She thought
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Laurel Snyder is the author of six children's novels, "Orphan Island," "Seven Stories Up," "Bigger than a Bread Box," "Penny Dreadful," "Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains OR The Search for a Suitable Princess" and "Any Which Wall" (Random House) as well as many picture books, including "Charlie & Mouse," "The Forever Garden," "Swan, the life and dance of Anna Pavlova," and "Baxter, the Pig Wh ...more
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“Problems don't always get fixed. Lots of the time things are boring or dumb for no good reason. Or even terrible. And you can't do anything about it. That's life.” 5 likes
“Because you don’t live in a book. Nobody does, silly. Things never happen the way they would in a book. There isn’t foreshadowing.” 3 likes
More quotes…