by Shawn K. Stout
for intermediate readers puzzled by friendship and the ways of the world – Penelope’s often in trouble, but it’s really not her fault
Now that Penelope has discovered (in book 1 – Penelope Crumb) that her grandfather is alive and living a metro ride away, she has begun helping him and is curious about his work as a photographer. He’s traveled everywhere and had his photographs published in famous magazines like LIFE and National Geographic. His pictures spill out all over in his apartment. Each one has a story and Penelope likes to know them and discover the details that are remembered about them.
Penelope wonders about memories. On her field trip she wonders about the stories behind the collection of artifacts displayed in the Portwaller History Museum. What were the people like who ate off these plates or hugged this teddy bear or wore those shoes? While she is wondering about these people from the past, she notices that most of the kids are in the gift shop. Most of the kids have not even looked at most of the artifacts in the museum. Penelope doesn’t think this is right and she decides to ask her best friend, Patsy Cline about it. And that’s when she notices that Patsy and Vera are buying best friend necklaces. If they are doing that, then Penelope must not be Patsy’s friend anymore. That hurts and not taking time to notice things in the museum seems disrespectful. When Penelope says so in a voice that her teacher, Miss Stunkle thinks is too loud she is asked to spend the rest of the field trip on the bus waiting with the driver.
Penelope decides then and there that she will not forget the people who are important to her. She decides to turn her closet into a museum in honor of all the people who are important to her. She calls it her Museum of Forget-Me-Notters and she collects things to display. Unfortunately they are things that the people she cares about needs. Her grandfather needs his camera. Her mom needs her sketch book and Patsy needs her necklace back.
Penelope has a lot of problems to solve. You’ll be surprised when you find out how everything unravels in the end. Here’s a teeny peek:
Mom is quiet most of the way…”It’s not easy being you, is it?” I shrug. “I don’t know how to be anybody else.” She nods and gives me a half smile. “I guess that’s true.” …”What’s it like being you?” I ask. She squints her eyes like she’s really giving her brains a workout and takes a while to come up with an answer. When she pulls up to the curb outside of Grandpa’s apartment, she says, “Challenging. Some of the time.” She strokes my hair. “But also pretty wonderful.” “Maybe it’s not easy being anybody. Even dead people have the problem of being forgotten,” I say. “And also the problem of being dead.”
I like Penelope. I hope you will too.