Saturday, October 2, 2010

Penny Dreadful, by Laurel Snyder

Deep, contented sigh.

The danger in loving one book by an author and looking forward to the next one so much, is that the next one doesn't always live up to the heightened expectations. You can end up really disliking what may have been a mildly enjoyable read if you had just picked it up cold. Thankfully, not a problem here!

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 another wish, and this time the Greys inherit a ramshackle old house in the middle of nowhere. Off they go, leaving the city and their problems behind them. Their new home is full of artists, tiny lions, unusual feasts, and true friends. Almost immediately, their lives are transformed. Penelope’s mother finds an unexpected job, her father discovers a hidden talent, and Penelope changes her name!
Penny’s new life feels too magical to be real, too real to be magic. And it may be too good to last . . . unless she can find a way to make magic work just one more time—if it even was magic.

Any Which Wall author Laurel Snyder introduces a quirky cast of characters as pleasantly strange as they are deeply real. Abigail Halpin adds to the charm with her distinctive line drawings.

This is one of those books you can happily hand to any patron. Adults will enjoy it just as much as kids. There is nothing to worry a parent (other than some non-traditional families, if that is an issue for them), but it never comes close to one of those cheesy books that turn kids off. Even boys, if they can be convinced to start it, we think will finish.

We immediately felt like Penny was a kindred spirit, but we honestly couldn't tell you if it was because of her personality, or just the way Snyder has of making us feel we know her so well. Then again, most reader-types will feel a connection with Penny, who tries to alleviate her boredom early in the story by randomly plunking her finger down on a page of a book, and then doing whatever the characters are doing. (Go ahead, we'll wait while you try it - you know you want to!)

Penny is definitely a reader, comparing people to book covers, making references to "...her book, in which a baby was sure to bite someone shortly", or just companionably reading with a friend for hours on end. If you are reading this as a family (and this would be an excellent choice for that), you can challenge each other to be the first to identify each book reference.

The other characters, while not as fleshed out as Penny, are enjoyable as well. The plot has enough twists to keep from being predictable, but not so many as to be dizzying. When the deep thoughts are thunk, and the adventures completed (for now), you will close the cover and settle back with...well, with a deep, contented sigh. Definitely a

5 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. I am looking forward so very much to this one--I'm glad it doesn't dissapoint!