From School Library Journal
Grade 4–5—Ten-year-old Penelope Grey lives in a mansion with her loving but busy parents and spends much of her time reading books about kids who do interesting things. She engages in some of the same activities, but nothing Big ever happens to change her boring life until she throws a paper wish into her backyard well. A week later, her father announces that he has quit his job, and soon the Greys are on the verge of losing their house. This isn't what Penelope had envisioned at all. A new wish goes into the well, and that afternoon a telegram arrives informing Mrs. Grey that she has inherited a house in Thrush Junction, TN. Everything isn't rosy once they arrive—the house comes with tenants who are not to be charged rent and a large loan to repay—but it is also replete with quirky neighbors and the freedom for children to make friends and explore to their hearts' content. Penelope quickly becomes Penny, falls in love with her new home, and is determined to find a way for her family to stay—maybe if she locates a rumored long-lost treasure everything will be fine. The characters and atmosphere in this entertaining read are reminiscent of Polly Horvath's books, but for a slightly younger audience. Penny is earnest, endearing, and full of hope for the future.—Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA
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*Starred Review* Penelope Grey lives a lovely life in the city, with a stone mansion, servants, toys, and plenty of books. Perhaps she is a little short on friends. And her parents are very busy. But lovely. Then one day, her father comes home and informs his family he has quit his job. This declaration of independence leads Penelope and her parents to Thrush Junction, Tennessee, where Mrs. Grey has inherited a house, but as they quickly learn, it comes with a massive second mortgage and lodgers, who, according to the terms of her aunt’s will, can live in the connected apartments without paying rent. There are a few quibbles here. The Greys could have gotten to Thrush Junction a little faster, and Mr. and Mrs. Grey sometimes seem out of touch with their situation (would Mom really not know there was a lien on the house before moving?). But Penny is a wonderful character, and the kids she meets in Thrush Junction make a perfect “our gang” to have just the sort of small-town adventures Snyder sets up for them (all illustrated in delightful pencil drawings that appear throughout). The tone harkens back a bit, but the fun is reminiscent of the very books Penny gives a shout-out to—Betsy-Tacy, Ballet Shoes, and The Penderwicks—and what could be nicer than that? Grades 3-6. --Ilene Cooper