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Author: Rocklin, Joanne
Fifth-grader Penny writes a series of letters to her future sibling, including facts about their Oakland, California, home, questions about whether their moms will ever marry, and especially that he or she is loved.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 502226
Kirkus Reviews (01/01/18)
School Library Journal (02/01/18)
Booklist (+) (01/01/18)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/04/18)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 01/01/2018 *Starred Review* For many Americans, June 2015 was a momentous month in history, but that’s especially true for 10-year-old Penelope, an avid fan of her home team, the Golden State Warriors, and daughter of two moms. (Spoiler alert: gay marriage is legalized, and the Warriors win it all.) In letters to her still-unnamed, soon-to-be-born sister, You, Penny chronicles the ups and downs of nine months in her own life leading up to her sister’s birth. One source of particular anguish is Penny’s year-long school project, Your Family’s History in California. Since Penny’s birth father is deceased, and her mom is an orphan, Penny claims her adoptive mother Sammy’s Ohlone ancestry as her own. But what will her teacher, Mr. Chen, say when he discovers her entire project is a fabrication? Penny’s letters are brimming with discoveries large and small: evolving friendships, tiny crushes, the love and loss of an urban goat, the Ohlone fight to protect their burial sites, Oakland’s secret stairwells, racism, Cesar Chavez, and even long-lost family members. Knisley’s illustrations make the impending arrival of Penny’s little sister even more palpable and complement the lively text. Rocklin captures a lesser-seen slice of contemporary American urban life: how the more troubling parts of our world trickle down to and effect upper-elementary students as they encounter prejudice in its many forms. Penny’s optimism and resolve is a joyous testament to our complicated world. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2018 Gr 4–6—Penelope loves a lot of things: her best friend Gabby; the Golden State Warriors; her hometown of Oakland, CA; her favorite teacher, Mr. Chen; her two moms, Mama and Sammy; her soon-to-be-born sibling. But there are a lot of things in Penny's world that are stressing her out: the new girl, Hazel, who is changing her dynamic with Gabby; the Warriors' chances of winning the NBA Finals; whether the Supreme Court will rule on marriage equality; the lie she has told about her nonexistent Ohlone ancestry. It's overwhelming for the 10-year-old. In charming, illustrated journal entries addressed to her future sibling, Penny spills all of her fears, insecurities, and joys. There is a lot to unpack here; in addition to all the issues previously mentioned, Penny is also dealing with a crush on Gabby's older brother, an estranged grandfather, homophobic reactions to her family unit, and a classmate's incarcerated father. While it's commendable to address such topical issues, the story would have been served better without some of the underdeveloped plot threads. Additionally, Penny goes on ad nauseam about her love of Oakland, yet the story lacks a rich sense of place. However, Penny's voice is precocious and compassionate, and the way in which she reacts to the events around her rings true. Knisley's illustrations add charm and authenticity to the story; Rocklin adds back matter, including resources about the Ohlone, LGBT families, Bay Area history, and the stages of pregnancy. VERDICT Not entirely successful but recommended for its strong and positive portrayal of a blended family, and an easy-buy for Bay Area libraries.—Laura Lutz, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.