Filippini’s debut picture book traces the journey of a penny that’s mislaid and neglected.
As the story opens, a proud, bow-tied dollar bill presents the bright-eyed main character, Precious Penny, to the Annual Meeting of Coins and Bills: “…the adventure stories were the best part of the meeting, and everyone was thrilled that Precious Penny had been selected to share her story.” The tale she tells, however, is less an adventure than a travelogue. It begins when a candy shop owner gives her to a girl as change, and the girl then puts Penny in her shoe—an unlikely move that might confuse younger readers. After the girl takes a trip to a sandbox, the girl’s mother shakes the sand out of her shoe and Penny falls into the tall grass near a park bench: “From that day on, I lived in the grass and watched children play in the park,” she recalls to the other coins. (If she has any feelings about this, however, she doesn’t share them.) Next, she’s sucked into a lawn mower, then tossed into a pile of mulch; a rainstorm rolls her into a puddle, where she gets stuck to a boot and then falls onto a car mat. She then spends much of the book waiting for someone to find her and send her to the bank, where she can look for her family. In the book’s sweetly cartoonish illustrations, both Penny and the humans around her appear unfailingly cheerful, aside from the puddle interlude. Penny shows what it means to be adaptable, as she looks just as happy lying with trash on a car mat as she does riding in a little boy’s pocket. However, the book may be too wordy for very young listeners, and it lacks action or depth that might engage older children.
Although this kids’ book promises adventure, readers may find little to latch onto, as the main character spends most of her time waiting for something to happen.