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 inherits a house in Tennessee, the family decides to move from the city and get a fresh start in the country.
At first, the plan seems to work, and Penny starts to make friends for the first time in her life. Her new home is actually a collection of houses filled with quirky characters and lots of new things to discover. For the first time in months, her parents seem happy. Then they discover that their new house comes with a lot of debt, and if they want to keep it, they’ll have to find a way to earn a lot of money.
Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder is a look at how families and communities can band together to help each other in times of need. It’s about finding a way to make a living while being happy with what you do at the same time. It touches on how children can feel powerless when their parents don’t include them in issues that are important to their future. And it tackles all of these serious subjects with a healthy dose of humor and lightheartedness. It’s a delightful book about first impressions, friendship, determination, personal responsibility, family and community. Mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 to 12 will find lots to discuss.