Sunday, June 04, 2017

Children in New York City

31931952Chace, Rebecca. June Sparrow and the Million Dollar Penny
May 30th 2017 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

June Sparrow and her pet teacup pig, Indigo Bunting, live in splendor in New York City after the unfortunate death of her parents until the actions of the family account cause all of her resources to dry up. On her birthday, still in the fancy clothes she had worn for an evening out, she is plopped on a plane and flown to live with an unsmiling, severe aunt in South Dakota. The aunt won't buy her clothes, and makes Indigo stay in the barn with the other pigs. June lives in her mother's old bedroom and learns a few things about her, especially that she was interested in coins and had, at one point, found "the big one"-- a penny worth a million dollars. Hoping that this money could be used to take her back to New York, June, along with her new friends in the community, starts to investigate. If she does find the penny, would she really leave her new home in South Dakota?
Strengths: This felt like a more classic novel-- think Eloise has to leave the Plaza and live with relatives in the sticks. Or Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle with more serious family problems. There's some mystery, some fish-out-of-water adjustments, and family reconciliation. It's short, and the pig is very cute.
Weaknesses: June was not a particularly nice child, and a lot of the story seemed very unlikely. I was bothered by the fact that the parents' money came from inventing the glue on the back of sticky notes in about 2000. It's widely known that Arthur Fry developed Post It notes for 3M in the 1970s.
What I really think: The tone was odd and added to the disconnect I felt with this one. I'm not surprised that the author has written adult books before this. It's hard to switch from adult books to middle grade ones.

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