cover image Mary's Penny

Mary's Penny

Tanya Landman, illus. by Richard Holland, Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4768-1

"With your one penny," says a farmer who must judge which of his two sons will run the farm after he's gone, "you must each buy something that will fill the whole house." Landman (The Goldsmith's Daughter) uses an engaging homespun voice to tell the story of Hans, Franz, and their quiet sister, Mary, who, although overlooked by her father ("because this was long, long ago—way back in the golden, olden days" when "everyone thought that girls couldn't run farms"), is the only one to fulfill the request successfully. She buys a candle (which fills the house with light) and makes a reed flute (which fills it with sound), winning her father's praise—and the farm. Holland's (The Museum Book) collaged figures have delicately drawn faces, overalls, and bumpy, oversize shoes (they're photos of real shoes). Blimplike Franz looks as if he is floating as he attempts to maneuver his overflowing horse cart of hay, while solitary Mary has a sideways glance and a Mona Lisa smile. Soft colors and the lightest of lines echo the gossamer touch used to deliver the feminist moral. Ages 5–7. (July)