June Sparrow and the Million Dollar Penny
Now June has to live on a farm with grouchy Aunt Bridget, who sees her best friend as potential bacon! Then one day, June finds a mysterious Penny Book that her mother used to keep. She is instantly intrigued by what her mother called the Big One, the rarest and most valuable of all pennies. Finding it could be June’s ticket back to New York and her old life. But the only guide June and Indigo have is a cryptic list her mom left behind.
To decode the list and find the Big One, June and Indigo enlist the help of some new friends in Red Bank and turn the town upside down in their search. But the most surprising mystery of all may be what brought June to Red Bank in the first place—and what is most valuable to her in the end.
June Sparrow has a puzzle to solve...
In JUNE SPARROW AND THE MILLION DOLLAR PENNY, June Sparrow is a very rich pre-teen living in New York City with her best friend, a miniature pig named Indigo Bunting... until she's not rich anymore. On her twelfth birthday, June learns that the fortune her parents left to her when they died when June was just 3 has been lost in a Ponzi scheme, and she has to go live on a farm in South Dakota with an aunt she's never met.
June and Indigo are in shock from the cultural differences. Not only is Red Bank, South Dakota very different than New York City, New York, but June also has to go to public school--something she has avoided by homeschooling herself while living in New York.
Author Rebecca Chace has created an engaging protagonist in June Sparrow, and June's pet pig, Indigo Bunting, is even more awesome. Chace pulls some of the charm of CHARLOTTE'S WEB into JUNE SPARROW (and even gives a nod to E.B. White's classic at one point). June and Indigo have some rough transitions to overcome through the course of the novel, and June encounters personal challenges as she learns more and more about her mom and dad as the story progresses. A large part of the plot revolves around June's attempts to unravel a puzzle left behind by her mom, Rebecca, in the form of a to-do list.
A really cool aspect of JUNE SPARROW is the Penny Book that June discovers in her mom's teenage bedroom. Rebecca's Penny Book is something of a diary of her teenage years. For each page in the book, Rebecca placed a penny that she found, and she detailed the story about finding the penny as well as interesting facts about the year that the penny was created. What an inspiration for young readers who want a unique way of journaling! This aspect of JUNE SPARROW had me ready to create a Penny Book of my own.
June's story will keep the interest of middle grade readers, though the mystery of the puzzle left behind by June's mother began to wear on me by the book's end. That said, the path June takes from New York City heiress to South Dakota schoolgirl is interesting and exciting. I enjoyed the book very much, and even though the pacing wasn't consistent, and I'd like some of the characters to have a bit more depth, the plot itself is a good one. And Indigo Bunting really does shine throughout.
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
A charming miniature pig!