Three Pennies – written by Melanie Crowder

  Three Pennies – written by Melanie Crowder, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781481471879, 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Magical Realism

What did you like about the bookMarin has been in the foster care system for seven years with her only constants being a piggy bank, three pennies, and a pocket-size I Ching, a divination text.  The answers have never been clear when Marin casts her pennies down and interprets them from her tiny book, but things become even more muddled as she begins to find a true forever home.  A forever home would mean her birth mother could never claim her again… is that what she really wants?

Marin’s journey is both emotional and physical as she discovers the different kinds of love in a family and travels to find answers about her birth mother.  The different perspectives allow readers to glimpse the good in each character as well as their struggles.  While Crowder streamlines the foster care and adoption process to fit into a short story, this works perfectly with the introspective nature of the characters and the overall flow of each short chapter.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Within the alternating narrations, we occasionally travel to an owl’s perspective.  This seemed incongruous within the story as there are no other references or explanations as to the importance of owls to the characters and he has no effect on the story.  The gentle creature is simply another observer… and a mildly random one at that.

To whom would you recommend this bookThis book would be great for fans of Kathi Appelt’s Maybe a Fox or other lyrical fantasies.  Readers who are encountering the foster system (from elementary on through adult) may identify with the story and enjoy the closure Marin experiences.

Who should buy this book? Juvenile library collections

Where would you shelve it ? Juvenile Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Maybe.  This gave me good insight into the emotional tolls of the foster care system for both the children and potential caregivers, making it great for a reader seeking a “window,” but the story itself was lacking at points.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of review: July 9, 2017

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