Penny From Heaven

By: Jennifer L. Holm


Penny is a regular 11 year old girl living in New Jersey in 1953. Except, her favorite uncle is living in a car, the two sides of her family don't get along, her best friend and cousin wants to be a criminal and her mom is dating the milkman. Her biggest problem is her father died and no one will tell her why. She starts to suspect that he was a spy for Italy in WWII, but that doesn't seem right. Penny doesn't know how she will make it until school starts up again. This summer, Penny experiences some ups and downs, but will she make it?


The theme of this story is "curiosity comes with some risks." I think that was the point the author was trying to make. At one part in the story, Penny and her cousin snuck out into the night to look for their late grandfathers hidden stash of money that they heard rumors about. Also, repeatedly, Penny eavesdropped and asked many questions about the history of her father's death even when her mother didn't necessarily want her to know. And the final happening that led me to believe that this is the theme was when Penny questioned her uncles why they gave her more and better gifts than everyone else. Sometimes her curiosity is good thing, but it may get her in trouble if she doesn't watch out.

Internment Camps

Japanese-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans were sent to internment camps by the US. The US believed that they were spies that were sending information to the USA's enemies. If they weren't in internment camps, they had to have curfews and limitations on how far they could travel. Many were forced to board up their homes, and some had their fishing boats confiscated. The Americans labeled them as "enemy-aliens." Many were deported back to their homelands or sent to the camps.

Internment Camps- Book

Penny's father was put in an Italian detention camp just because he owned a radio. In the book, the author also said that if Japanese-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans had flashlights or cameras that they would have the same fate. Penny's father wasn't a citizen, so he was sent to Ellis Island and then was sent to a internment camp at an army base in Maryland. Just like in real life, Italian-Americans were treated poorly during WWII. It wasn't nearly as bad as the camps in Europe but they had very poor living conditions.


"Japanese, German, and Italian American & Enemy Alien Internment." Texas Historical Commission. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2014.

"Story of Italian-American Internment in WWII Revealed in Exhibit, Forum in San Jose." N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Jan. 2014.