Penny from Heaven

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Penny from Heaven
Author Jennifer L. Holm
Cover artist Jamie Grill
Country United States of America
Language English
Genre Children's
Publisher Yearling, an imprint of Random House,Inc
Publication date
Media type Print (chapbook)
Pages 274 pp
ISBN 978-0-375-83689-3

Penny from Heaven (2006) is a children's novel that was named a Newbery Honor book in 2007.[1] It was written by Jennifer L. Holm, the author of another Newbery Honor book, Our Only May Amelia and first published by Random House.


Penny from Heaven is a story of eleven-year-old-girl named Barbara "Penny" Falucci. She believes that people call her Penny because her father, Alfred Falucci, loved the Bing Crosby song “Pennies from Heaven." After her father’s death, Penny lives with her mother, Ellie, and grandparents, Me-Me and Pop-Pop. Even though she has her old dog Scarlett O’Hara to play with, Penny loves to spend time with her father’s Italian family.

Her father was the oldest son of her grandmother Nonny, and the only one of her six children who was born in Italy. Penny does not know why both sides of her family are distant.and why nobody tells her father’s real death cause. Penny’s best friend is her cousin, Frankie, who is a known troublemaker. Once, he persuaded Penny to lie to her grandparents and go to the public pool against her strict mother's wishes. She does not allow her to do anything that Penny considers as "fun." It was a surprise when her mother allowed Penny to work in her Uncle Ralphie's meat store. Her favorite uncle, Dominic, works there as well. Though he is her favorite uncle, she sometimes wishes that he would be less eccentric. Many years ago, only Dominic supported Penny’s parents' marriage while the rest of his family wanted him marry an Italian girl. Her uncle and her mom used to be good friends. Penny wants him to marry her mother and become her new father. She gets very disappointed when she finds out her mother dating the milkman, Mr. Mulligan. Penny decide to break her mother's relationship with Mr. Mulligan and acts rude during a dinner party that Penny's mother invites him over to. She asks Mr. Mulligan uncomfortable questions and compares him with her father. She wants him to date her mother while he says that this is impossible.

One of her uncles tells Penny and Frankie that their grandfather Falucci hid money in their backyard but died before he could tell anyone his secret. They decided to find grandfather’s heritage and searched all over the backyard. After it was unsuccessful, they want to search money in the basement. They waited for all adults to leave and pretended doing a laundry. Frankie found money and was so excited. Penny was distracted and her right arm has been pulled through the wringer all the way up to her armpit and its stuck, while the wringer is still going down.Penny woke up in the hospital where during her dream she heard her mother accusing her uncle Dominic in her father’s death. After a several weeks in the hospital, Penny still was not able to move her right arm fingers. Her mother used to work in that hospital before and knew all doctors there. One of the doctors said that Penny’s chances to remain disabled are high.

Penny woke up at night and she heard two nurses talking about her mother. They said her father was an Italian spy and was killed by the United States of America government. When she asked her mom about that she starts crying. Her aunt decided to tell her the truth. When Penny was a baby, her uncle Dominic bought her father a brand-new radio. He didn't know Italians were not allowed to have this kind of radio. After Pearl Harbor country went crazy and all non-citizens were considered as spies. Unfortunately, her father was born in Italy and was a not U.S citizen. He got sick in the jail and died. In the last letter he wrote :” Baby is just like a lost penny, I’ll never hold again”. This was a real reason why everyone called her Penny. She realized why her mom said Dominic killed her husband. It was him who bought that radio. She wanted to see him and say that it was not his fault, but he never showed up to visit her in the hospital. All she had left is her lucky bean from him.

The girl who lived with Penny in the same room asked to see her lucky bean.Penny wants to reach it but loses balance and lucky bean slides off from the table. Penny doesn't want to drop it and catches it with her fingers. She moves her fingers and believes it was a mystery of her lucky bean.


  • Barbara Ann Falucci "Penny"—age 11. A half Italian girl who loves butter pecan ice-cream and the baseball team "Brooklyn Dodgers"
  • Ellie Falucci—Exact age not specified. A single mother, used to be a nurse.
  • Alfred Falucci- Penny's late father. Born in Italy, but lived in the United States. Worked as a journalist for Italian newspaper
  • Dominic Falucci—a younger brother of Penny's father. He lives in the car and doesn't like to be around people. He gave a lucky bean to Penny and is Penny's favorite uncle.
  • Frankie Falucci—age 15. The best friend of Penny, and her cousin. He is a real troublemaker, loves to have fun. He wants to become rich and support his family.
  • Genevieve Falucci "Nonny"—about 70. Penny's paternal grandmother. She wears only black clothes and loves cooking.
  • Ralph Falucci—the youngest brother of Penny's father. He has a coat factory.He always gives Penny new clothes.
  • Mr. Mulligan— The milkman who later dates Penny's mother. Before becoming a milkman, he was in the air force and was stationed in Burma during the war.

·Scarlet o' hara —Penny's dog who pees everywhere.

Critical Reception[edit]

Coats, Karen for Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books states: "It's undeniably a nostalgic and highly personal piece, but it is readable and appealing nostalgia; Penny's family is quirky, big-hearted, and lively, and her adventures will have broad appeal for preadolescents, as well as bringing to light a largely neglected piece of American history. A family picture album and author's note follow the text.".[2] Publishers Weekly writes; “The relaxed pace picks up after an accident lands Penny in the hospital and she overhears a rumor about her father. Holm includes telling historical details, including information about WWII Italian internment camps .Readers will enjoy observing Penny's growth, how she mediates a peace among her family members and offers a glimmer of heaven”.[3] Tricia Melgaard, who reviewed audiobook for School Library Journal found the plot is a bit weak, but warmth and humor abound.[4]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2007 Newbery Medal and Honor Books". Association for Library Service to Children. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  2. ^ Source: Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October 2006, Vol. 60 Issue 2, p74, 1p Item: 510645449
  3. ^ ." Publishers Weekly 28 Aug. 2006: 54. Artemis Literary Sources. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.
  4. ^ Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK