Penelope returns in her third adventure, in which she struggles with leading a community mural-painting project, helping plan the secret escape of an elderly yet feisty fortuneteller and avoiding the Bad Luck as much as possible.
As in the previous books, Penelope is still coping with the loss of her Graveyard Dead dad as well as the fact that her former best friend, Patsy Cline, has a new BFF in Vera Bogg. All she wants is to be someone’s Favorite and to benefit from some Good Luck, but she knows that the Bad Luck is perpetually waiting (like “surprise test[s] on decimal points”). Perhaps it’s a sign her luck is changing for the better when she is voted to lead the Mother Goose mural painting at the Portwaller’s Blessed Home for the Aging, but she soon discovers being the boss isn’t so easy. Stout populates her story with appealing characters who shine in both snappy dialogue and Penelope’s wry yet winsome first-person narration. A lost lucky charm, a reception revealing a most unusual interpretation of Mother Goose and a foiled getaway all lead to the realization that what matters most is having people around who value you for who you are and that “things don’t always stay the same”—and that many times, “that could be a good thing.”
Although full of candies and melting Popsicles, this sweet tale is refreshing rather than cloying. (Fiction. 7-10)