cover image Three Pennies

Three Pennies

Melanie Crowder. Atheneum, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4814-7187-9

In San Francisco, a whisper of a girl learns to tread lightly in life as she navigates being a foster child. Marin Greene, 11, was abandoned at age four by her biological mother and has longed for a reunion ever since. A kind, overworked social worker wants to help Marin become legally adopted, but Marin believes that most adults don’t understand what she needs most. Meanwhile, an owl decides to keep watch over Marin, though she is unaware of the bird. Forces of nature are front and center, between impending earthquakes and the beckoning sea and cliffs, as is Marin’s devotion to her few treasured possessions: three pennies, a ceramic piggy bank, and her copy of the I Ching. Crowder’s (A Nearer Moon) sensitive tale has a poetic, lyrical quality that should entrance readers; most chapters are no longer than a page or two, shifting attention among characters (and, at times, switching to second person) in a way that creates a sense of community and togetherness. Marin is resourceful, determined, and brave, and although her life is not easy, her hope is powerfully felt. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (May)