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Penelope Crumb Finds Her Luck

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“Penelope Crumb . . . channels the quirkiness of Ramona Quimby and the detective skills of Cam Jansen . . . Penelope will delight children and parents alike.”
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“Readers will root for and relate to this fresh-voiced young heroine who joins the likes of Ramona, Judy Moody and Clementine.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Kids who have outgrown the Junie B. Jones series will enjoy Penelope’s equally comical ...

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Penelope Crumb Finds Her Luck

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“Penelope Crumb . . . channels the quirkiness of Ramona Quimby and the detective skills of Cam Jansen . . . Penelope will delight children and parents alike.”
Shelf Awareness

“Readers will root for and relate to this fresh-voiced young heroine who joins the likes of Ramona, Judy Moody and Clementine.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Kids who have outgrown the Junie B. Jones series will enjoy Penelope’s equally comical narrative style.”

In the third book in this hilarious, endearing series, all Penelope Crumb wants is to be someone's "Favorite." She’d thought she was her Grandpa Felix’s Favorite, and her mom’s Favorite, and her friend Patsy Cline’s Favorite, but she’s starting to realize that maybe she’s not. And it’s all The Bad Luck’s fault. So since Penelope's a superb artist, she comes up with a plan—she's going to be the boss of the mural her school is making at the Portwaller’s Blessed Home for the Aged, which will make her into everyone’s Favorite.  And maybe it’ll frighten The Bad Luck away. But things don't quite go as planned there either. And when an old woman named Nila promises to help Penelope find her luck so everyone will like her again, things get even worse! In the end, Penelope finds out that friendships aren't about luck—and that it doesn't matter if you're anyone's Favorite when there are tons of people who love you. In a book that’s equal parts humor and heart, it’s clear to see why young readers will count Penelope as one of their Favorites.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—In the third book in this charming series, fourth-grader Penelope Crumb has enjoyed thinking she is the Favorite of Grandpa Felix, her mom, and best friend Patsy Cline, but maybe she's caught "the Bad Luck… it's a lot like catching the stomach flu." Grandpa has asked her brother Terrence "Terrible" to help with a photography shoot, her mom says that moms don't have Favorites, and Patsy has been spending time with Vera Bogg. When Penelope has the chance to be in charge of a Mother Goose mural her class is painting for a home for the aged, she jumps at the opportunity, thinking it will make her everyone's Favorite. But the project doesn't go according to plan, and when she befriends an old woman at the home who promises to help find her luck, things take a turn for the worse. Penelope and her classmates must learn to work together to finish the project before the unveiling party, and she learns that being the Favorite is less important than being loved. Black-and-white line drawings help bring out Penelope Crumb's quirky and endearing personality. Fans of Clementine and Ramona Quimby will feel right at home with her.—Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga Public Library System, OH
Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399162541
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 10/17/2013
  • Series: Penelope Crumb Series , #3
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,004,427
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Shawn Stout has held many jobs, including ice cream scooper, dog treat baker, magazine editor, and waitress. She also holds the job of “mother” to her daughter Opal. In addition to the Penelope Cumb series, Shawn has written two books, Fiona Finkelstein, Big Time Ballerina and Fiona Finkelstein Meets her Match for Simon and Schuster, and before that received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her family also includes a husband and two dogs named Munch and Laverne. She once won a ribbon for her Peach Pie at the Great Fredrick Fair.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Sometimes I worry about getting the Bad Luck. I don’t know how you catch the Bad Luck exactly, but I guess it’s a lot like catching the stomach flu. Or getting warts. (Truth be told, if you’ve got the stomach flu AND warts, then your luck probably isn’t so good.)

Some people seem to have the Bad Luck an awful lot of the time. Except for my dad being Graveyard Dead and having an alien for a brother, my luck has been pretty okay up until now. Not real good, but not real bad either. That’s the way I like it. Because here’s one thing I know about the Bad Luck: It comes right along with the Good Luck. You can’t have one without the other.

Which makes me nervous, because today has a lot of the Good Luck in it:

1. Mom left for work early.

2. Orange Popsicle for breakfast. For real, two.

3. Found long-lost T-shirt in rag bag. Still fits except for part that covers my stomach.

4. Alien overslept and missed bus.

5. Two orange Popsicles in lunchbox. For real, four.

6. No surprise test on decimal points.

7. Angus Meeker home sick with the stomach flu.

8. Not one mean comment about how big my nose is.

9. Patsy Cline smiled at me.

With all that good stuff, I just know that the Bad Luck is right around the corner. But I can’t think about corners so much right now because Miss Stunkel is letting us use clay in art class. And so, I am busy making a cow.

Patsy Cline Roberta Watson, my used-to-be best friend, is crazy about cows. Instead of spots like real cows have, I draw hearts in the clay with my pencil point. Just because.

I set the cow on the corner of my desk, so it’s as close to Patsy Cline as it can be without jumping over the space between our desks. Patsy Cline is smushing her clay into something that could be a worm that’s been run over by a delivery truck. Or else a horse with pneumonia. Patsy Cline isn’t so good at art.

I make a “cuuullllggggh” noise with my throat and wait for Patsy to look this way. She does, thank lucky stars, but she has a look on her face that says, You Should Cover Your Mouth.

“Sorry,” I say, even though I am really not sorry because it was only a pretend cough and therefore only pretend germs that Patsy doesn’t need to be afraid of. “But look.” I point to the cow.

When she sees it, her eyes get big and almost weepy and she says, “Oh, how I wish cows had hearts like that in real life.”

Which makes me smile.

But then Vera Bogg, who is Patsy Cline’s brand-new best friend, crinkles up her teeny nose and says, “But cows do have hearts, Patsy Cline.”

Good gravy. That’s Vera Bogg for you.

With her pink fingernail, Vera presses a smiley face into a small ball and then stacks it on top of two others. “I think it would be better if you made it more like a real-looking cow,” Vera says to me, pushing her pink headband back on her head. “And where’s its tail?”

I am about to tell Vera a thing or two about art, about Patsy Cline, and about cows, but instead I flatten the cow with my fist. If Vera Bogg doesn’t know that art doesn’t have to be real-looking, that everybody knows cows have hearts on the inside, and that Patsy Cline is allergic to things with tails, then I’m not going to be the one to tell her.

Miss Stunkel walks up and down the rows, and when she gets to my desk she looks at my flattened cow and says, “Penelope, you’ve made a pancake? How nice.” Only, she says it in a way that makes me think she only eats waffles.

She nods at Patsy Cline’s sick horse as she passes, which is now just about dead, and then stops right in front of Vera Bogg. “Oh, Vera,” she says. “What a delightful snowman. You’re really something.” And she makes a big deal out of the something.

Vera Bogg’s face gets as pink as the rest of her. It’s the kind of pink that makes me feel like a raw hot dog. The sort that makes you sick if you don’t cook it long enough. Vera Bogg is Miss Stunkel’s All-Time Favorite. She’d have to be to get a big-deal something for a boring old snowman.

If Mister Leonardo da Vinci was here, he would surely say, “It seems apparent to me, oh me oh my, that Miss Stunkel couldn’t tell a craggy rock from a masterpiece.” Because that’s how dead artists talk.

Then Vera Bogg starts telling Patsy Cline how wonderful Patsy’s clay sculpture is, and how she wishes she could make something that good. I can’t help but roll my eyeballs. Even Patsy Cline looks a little suspicious, but then she says, “Do you know what it’s supposed to be?”

Vera’s eyes get wide, and after staring at the lump on Patsy’s desk for a long time she says, “Well, it looks like it could be a lot of things.”

“It’s a fiddle,” says Patsy Cline.

“That’s just what I was going to say,” says Vera. “A fiddle.”

Patsy Cline nods and smiles, and all I can do is shake my head. Because how Vera Bogg, and not me, can be Patsy’s All-Time Favorite is something I will never ever understand.

Meanwhile, I’m molding my pancake into a hungry tiger, which I plan on training to bite at Vera Bogg’s ankles, and Miss Stunkel says she has an important announcement so listen up.

A man with a beard that’s just on his chin and not on his cheeks comes into the classroom and sits on top of Miss Stunkel’s desk. Not in a chair, but on her desk. Which I don’t think Miss Stunkel likes too well because she gives him a look that says, Chairs Are Chairs for a Reason.

Miss Stunkel says, “I’d like to introduce you all to Mr. Rodriguez. He is visiting schools in our area to talk about an exciting new art project.”

Right away my ears perk up.

Mr. Rodriguez swings his legs and smiles. “Hey,” he says. “So, like Miss Stinkel said . . .”

“Stunkel,” says Miss Stunkel, and she points her chicken-bone finger at us to make sure none of us thinks that’s funny. Even though it very much is the funniest thing ever.

“Sorry, wrong tense,” says Mr. Rodriguez, clearing his throat. “Stunkel. Anyway, I’m going all around town to get some volunteers to help with an art project. We’re painting a mural at Portwaller’s Blessed Home for the Aging.”

“Ooh.” I drop the tiger and raise my hand high.

Mr. Rodriguez smiles at me, and then Miss Stunkel tells me to hold on and that Mr. Rodriguez is not finished. But I don’t need to hear anything else, because I would paint a mural on the moon. On a moon rock. On a moon pie, even. I, Penelope Crumb, am going to be a famous artist when I grow up, and painting murals is what famous artists do. Just ask Leonardo da Vinci. (Which you could do if he wasn’t already dead.)

“The theme of the mural is Mother Goose,” says Mr. Rodriguez, “and if you want to do this, you have to show up for the next couple Saturdays and Sundays. So, if you have soccer practice or lunch with Grandma every Sunday, you’ll probably have to make other plans.” He swings his legs again and smiles. Then he says how it will mean so much to all of the people in the Blessed Home for the Aging and how they don’t have so much to live for anymore seeing how they are so old and almost dead.

Miss Stunkel rubs her Thursday lizard pin and says, “So, if this sounds like something you’d like to participate in, raise your hand.”

My hand is still up, but Miss Stunkel is busy looking around the room and writing down the names of other kids on a piece of paper. I stick my other hand in the air and make big circles so she won’t miss me. And it works, too, because Mr. Rodriguez points right at me and says to Miss Stunkel, “There’s a live one over there.”

Miss Stunkel sighs and says, “Penelope Crumb, I’ve already got your name on the list. So unless you’re trying to message Mars, please put your hands down.”

Everybody laughs, which makes my cheeks burn. But then Mr. Rodriguez scratches his chin beard and says to me, “I think it’s pretty righteous that you’re so excited about art.”

Righteous. I don’t know what that means exactly, but it sounds like he thinks I’m right. Which is something Miss Stunkel never says I am. I smile and give him a look that says, Please Tell My Teacher That She Is Very Wrongeous. And it’s a good thing that Miss Stunkel isn’t very good at telling what different kinds of faces mean because I would definitely get a note sent home for that one.

That’s when Patsy Cline raises her hand and says, “What if you aren’t any good at drawing?”

Which really is a surprise. Not because Patsy Cline isn’t any good at drawing—she’s not—but that she would even want to do an art project at all. Especially on Saturdays and Sundays when her mom makes her practice for singing competitions.

Mr. Rodriguez says, “That’s nothing to worry about. And I bet you’re better than you think.”

She isn’t.

Patsy Cline smiles and gives me a look that says, Maybe I’m Not So Bad After All. I put on a smile that says, Well, You’re Definitely Not the Worst, Patsy Cline. Because that’s the truth. And even if it wasn’t, that’s the kind of thing you say to your used-to-be best friend. Especially when you’d like more than anything to get her back.

And then I think what good luck this is because now I’ll have Patsy Cline all to myself, thank lucky stars. And after she sees me paint, she will surely say, “Penelope Crumb, you are my Favorite, because you are the most wonderful artist and I was so wrong to throw you over for Vera Bogg because anybody who wears that much pink can’t be right in the head.”

But then the Bad Luck peeks out at me from around the corner. Because the next thing I see is Vera Bogg raising her hand.

Maybe it’s those pink fingernails, but all I can think of is that I don’t want the Bad Luck to get any closer. And the next thing I know, the tiger is in my hand, but only for a second because then it leaps at Vera.

And I have to say, for an untrained tiger, it’s pretty good. The tiger knocks her hand down and then hits her desk and falls to the floor. I think its head falls off, poor thing. And Vera screams.

That’s when I know the Bad Luck has found me for certain, because Miss Stunkel pulls out her chicken-bone finger and points it at me and says I can be sure she’s sending a note home.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    I think penelope is very daring

    She also learns so many things without meaning to!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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