A penny’s rough-and-tumble escapades lead to unexpected ends in Siegel and Bloch’s engaging picture book.
The protagonist penny’s journey begins in Philadelphia, where the United States Mint manufactures most U.S. pennies. “Born” in 1983, Siegel’s diminutive protagonist visits different parts of the U.S. spanning Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, “plus Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico,” and including a garage floor in Green Bay and a stamp machine in Ohio. Most of the time people just plain overlook this plucky one-cent coin. “I hated being alone and forgotten.” After the penny ends up in a jar with other unfortunate coins, it reminisces about the past, when things weren’t so expensive. Though Siegel’s text often dwells on the neglect and (comically overwrought) abuse inflicted on the penny-protagonist, the author does also appeal to the coin’s historical roots, sprinkling in moments of levity and informative goodness. (One marvelous spread even outlines the different metals used to create pennies throughout the years.) Luckily, Bloch’s off-kilter, at times almost grotesque, pen-and-Photoshop illustrations provide some much-needed chuckles, featuring various people and animals with contorted faces and wacky scenarios. Still, it’s all about the wonders of the penny, and Siegel’s protagonist proves an excellent ambassador. “Some folks think pennies are worthless, but I know we are worth a lot.” Here’s a book sure to convince some readers.
Worth every penny. (historical note, selected facts, resources) (Informational picture book. 4-8)