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Penny from Heaven

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  7,523 Ratings  ·  721 Reviews
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 favorite uncle is living in a car. Her Nonny cries every time her father’s name is mentioned. And the two s ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Random House Books for Young Readers
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Kimber Because the character was based off of Jennifer. Or it was her mother, but I'm not entirely sure about that.

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Colby Sharp
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When I started reading this book I was thinking 4 stars. Why you ask? If I give all of Jenni Holm's novels 5 stars people are going to start thinking I have an author crush on her.

Penny from Heaven was way too good for four stars. It is 23 chapters of amazing. I felt like chapters 19 and 20 were as good as anything I have read this year. I listened to them on my way to school today, and I cried a solid 30 minutes.

Here is my list of authors that I think are better than Jenni Holm:

I love this book!! Warm – Endearing - Amusing – Honest: “Penny From Heaven.” Set in 1953 New York, it’s historically insightful and feel-good nostalgic. Jennifer Holm, inspired by her own American/Italian family, wrote this for a middle school audience. However, young and old alike will find this coming-of-age story a delight to read. And following the story in the author's notes, Holm includes the connections to her family, as well as many eye-opening facts about the era and Italian/American cu ...more
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
Penny From Heaven
By Jennifer L. Holm
Published by Random House
Historical Fiction

Jennifer Holm has taken her personal family history and crafted an excellent work of historical fiction in Penny From Heaven. Holm's book is funny, moving, and a joy to read. Incoming sixth graders, girls especially, will have a hard time putting it down. The writing is quick and smart and the characters are round and very dynamic. This, in addition to the vignette style chapters that comprise Penny's summer make
Peter Panic
Jun 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
For some ungodly reason I keep reading Newberry books. At one point I wanted to be the Newberry specialist, but instead I became hooked on them since I figured out the formula. I'm especially surprised that this was nominated though. While it contained one of the three elements that secretly qualified it for what is ALWAYS ine a Newberry book (war) it wasn't that interesting and frankly the 50-isms would go over kids heads. Heck most of that crap was just foreign to me, if I didn't recall my mot ...more
Ch_hayley Medsker
Feb 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical-fic
Penny From Heaven by Jennifer Holm is a story of a young Italian American girl growing up in New Jersey in 1953. Penny is orphaned by her father from the time she was a baby. Throughout the novel, 11 year-old Penny struggles with many questions about her father, whom no one will speak about. Thus, this leaves her questioning her own identity as well. While Penny lives with her mother and her “boring old American” grandparents, Me-me and Pop-pop, her life is consistently filled with her enormous, ...more
Nov 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From Booklist
Gr. 5-8. Penny lives with her "plain old American" mother and grandparents, but she has an open invitation to visit her deceased father's Italian family, where the delicious aromas are as inviting as the boisterous relatives who welcome her. Against the backdrop of these contrasting 1950s households, the author of Newbery Honor Book Our Only May Amelia (1999) charts the summer of Penny's twelfth birthday, marked by hapless episodes as well as serious tensions arising from the estran
Betsy Ross
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a heartfelt story about life and the highs and lows that inevitably come with it.
Recommended to Betsy by: Aunt
A very enjoyable and fun read peppered with enough adventure, humorous mishaps, and tender coming of age moments to send you on an emotional journey along with Penny. Set in 1953, the book gives you a chance to experience Penny's life, her triumphs, and downfalls, all through her eyes. Living with her grandparents on her mother's side- Me-me and Pop-pop, and spending time her crazy Italian side of her family, Penny has plenty of opportunity for thrills and lots of trouble. With her main partner ...more
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I really really really liked this book!! i read it for a historical fiction book report, and history isn't my absolute fave,but it was not bad because penny falucci, a girl living in the fifties, has the same worries, thoughts and view points of life as most 11 and 12 year old girls. her dad died when she was really young so her many spontaneous, aunts and uncles always are trying to cheer her up whenever they're with her, which is most of the time.
my favorite falucci family member is aunt gina
L-Crystal Wlodek
Penny From Heaven is a Newbery Honor book and is intended for students in grades 6-8. This book is based on the author’s own Italian American family. It depicts the 1953 time period when being Italian meant you were the enemy. The book also is rich in its description of families, more specifically about the things that separate them and being them together. Penny’s life is not easy, having a father that is deceased, an uncle living in a car, and the two sides of her family not speaking to each o ...more
Saira Shah
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A Penny From Heaven is an outstanding book! Penny from Heaven is the story of 12-year-old Penny Falucci, an Italian-American girl growing up in the 1950s. Her father died when Penny was very little. She and her mother live with her grandparents. Her grandmother, Me-Me, is a horrible cook, and Pop-Pop, the grandfather, is constantly working on the plumbing and causing leaks. Penny’s mother works very hard and is struggling to make a life for herself. This summer begins like any other with Penny a ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy
This book nearly made me cry which is quite a feat! I admit to tearing up at least three times. I loved getting to learn about an Italian family during and after WWII and all of the struggles they went through. A fascinating way to learn some history! The only con I can think of is a little bit of superstition which was mostly treated with doubt and humor. I would recommend this book to anyone. Oh, and I want and Uncle Dominic please! :)
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book :) I think it is okay for 9 and up, but I liked it. It's been a while since I read it
Michael Fitzgerald
The stereotypes never stop. Italian side of the family with names like Nunzio, Ralphie, Sally, Dominic. Is this the Sopranos? Goodfellas? The Godfather? Of course, there's an Italian man who wears a wifebeater who beats his meek and submissive wife. Of course. At the meat shop, Uncle Ralphie is constantly giving away extra meat and extending all kinds of credit to his customers. "No, no, no. Take it. I insist." Straight from a movie (or three). The other side of the family has a caricatured seni ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, 2017
This was really interesting historical fiction. I was fascinated by the afterword, and also by what a good author Jennifer Holm is, particularly in thinking about all the different kinds of stories she writes.
I loved it that this was historical, but let's be honest-not a very popular (for kids, anyway) time period. 1950s and all the details of Italian American life in NJ are there. I'm so glad I finally read this because I'll definitely be recommending it many readers.
Aug 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Now that the New York Times has deemed it acceptable for adults to read young adult books, I guess I can review without shame.

Anyway. Penny Falucci, a hardcore Brooklyn Dodgers fan growing up in New Jersey, is having a hard time as she turns 12 in 1953 -- her father died when she was a baby; her father's family and her mother's family won't talk to each other; her favorite uncle lives in a car in his mother's driveway; her favorite cousin is a budding gangster (he thinks being a criminal would
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Penny from Heaven is a middle school/junior high novel is about a young girl named Penny in the 1950s. Penny lives with her mother and maternal grandparents. She has a relationship with her father's family, but her mother does not. She struggles with finding out the truth about her father's death, the way her life is evolving, and her own cultural identity. Her father's side is a stereotypical Italian family, while her mother's family does not seem to have a cultural identity. She gets into some ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ages 9-12
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a classic children's fiction novel, one that quietly and eloquently gives us a snapshot of what it is like growing up in an Italian American family living in Brooklyn just after World War II. Based upon the author's own family, we are introduced to eleven-year-old Penny, whose father has died mysteriously during the war. He was not a soldier, so all Penny knows is that he became sick and died. Although both sides of Penny's family love her, she must often walk a tightrope between her fat ...more
Chelsey Stotler
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chapter-books
This book is told from the perspective of eleven-year-old Penny Fulucci. The setting is 1950 in post WWII New Jersey where Penny lives with her mother and grandparents. Penny’s father the one that named her “Penny” died when she was a baby. Penny’s fathers side of the family is Italian and gets to see Penny quite often. While visiting her Italian family Penny gets to spend time with her cousin Frankie and other relatives. They embrace Penny with their heritage. With time Penny finds out about he ...more
Breanna Haynes
I thought that the story was compelling and relatable to children. A lot of children go through family struggles, and this book covers that. It is also a book about going through adolescence and self-discovery. I also think that the information is presented very accurately. This book take place in the 50’s right after WWII and it really makes you feel like you are there. However, it still keeps the characters relatable. The plot is developed really nicely, and answers all of your questions. The ...more
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed learning about Penny's two families. Penny's father has died and no one in her family has ever told her the real reason how. The book begins by explaining how Penny was given her name. "I think about Heaven a lot. Not because of the usual reason, 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."She spends Sundays with her father's family enjoying the typical Italian feast. When h ...more
Ellie eden King
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Penny From Heaven is about a girl named Penny who lives with her mom and her grandma. It is set in the 1960's where lots of people are getting polio. For that reason her mom won't let her swim. To make matters worse her uncle lives in a car, her other grandma cries when she hears her dads name, and her mom hates her dads side of the family. Find out what happens when her and her cousin find treasure in her dads household. There is one lucky penny that saves her. This book is one of my favorites.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-honor
Fairly interesting, with plenty of funny bits, but I have no clue why this got attention from the Newbery committee. It was like watching a so-so episode of the (excellent) TV series Brooklyn Bridge. It's all sweet and nostalgic, but where's the plot? I haven't gotten a chance to read the author's note (I listened to the audio book, which was really well done), but I say again, as with Roller Skates, that if you're going to turn memoir into fiction, you ought to tighten and plot; otherwise, just ...more
Alina Torres
Oct 28, 2015 rated it liked it
i think this book is pretty interesting because it is about a girl who is dreaming about the perfect summer. with butter pecan ice cream basketball and swimming. But it doesn't exactly go that way her father died when she was young so every time her nonny his name she cry's also she cant go swimming because her mom is afraid that she will get polio. Her mom is dating the milk man and her favorite uncle is living in his car. So if you like books about drama and problems than i think you will like ...more
Aug 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
I was underwhelmed by this novel. First person narration, in my opinion, usually means a strong protagonist. This protagonist did not have a strong voice. Additionally, I felt like the author spent a lot of time telling me what was going on instead of showing me the action and characters. Redeeming quality: The book focused on an aspect of World War II that I was unaware of. Since I walked away with a little more knowledge and a curiosity to find out more, I gave the book 3.5 stars.
Sarah Stewart
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much. It felt very authentic historically and its refreshing to read something about an era that isn't written about very much. Everyone seems to skip the 50's in a rush toward the 40's and 60's. The character development was fantastic--I actually cared about the characters and they had interesting learning curves. Frankie was pretty awesome!
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful book. I absolutely loved it. My sister married into an Italian family, and so many of the stories ring true. Penny is a great protagonist, sweet but not too sweet, in fact, altogether realistic. It is a tragedy of sorts, but not one that leaves you sad. Be sure to read the authors notes and check out the pictures at the end.
Niki (Daydream Reader)
I recommend the audio. I enjoyed the reader. This is the first chapter book that I read by Jennifer Holm and I loved it. I really enjoyed all the kookie characters in this story and the wild situations that they get in. I also kept thinking....what happened to her dad and how did he die?!
My favorite character was Uncle Dominique...such a sweet character and my heart ached for him.
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-reads
I LOVE this book. It takes place in 1953 and 11 year old Penny is living with her mom, grandpa, grandma, and has plans for the best summer ever. But that doesn't go the way she wants it too.

(don't want to spoil book ;) )
Rebecca McNutt
Penny from Heaven is about a girl with a dysfunctional family, and her dream is to have a great summer without them spilling over into it. Taking place in the 1950's, this book evokes all the freedom and emotion of the season and has a great message for readers.
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Jennifer L. Holm is a NEW YORK TIMES bestselling children's author and the recipient of three Newbery Honors for her novels OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA, PENNY FROM HEAVEN, and TURTLE IN PARADISE.

Jennifer collaborates with her brother, Matthew Holm, on two graphic novel series -- the Eisner Award-winning Babymouse series and the bestselling Squish series. She is also the author of several other highly pra
More about Jennifer L. Holm...
“My idea of Heaven has nothing to do with fluffy 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 Dodger's dugout. That's the only advantage that I can see about being dead: You get the best seat in the house.” 25 likes
“She dies two days later.” 0 likes
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