Penina Levine Is a Potato Pancake

Roaring Brook Press  2008

It’s the beginning of Hanukkah, and Penina is having a hard time. Her best friend is going to Aruba for winter vacation, her favorite teacher is on extended leave, her parents are upset with her for not being nicer to her annoying little sister Mimsy, and she feels like no one in her family pays her any attention. When Penina’s grandparents visit, getting some TLC from Grandma helps her feel less alone. A blizzard cancels her friend’s trip, and an impromptu Hanukkah party helps restore her equilibrium. This prequel to Penina Levine Is a Hard-Boiled Egg, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book, presents a sixth-grade girl more realistically portrayed than most in children’s literature. She has little patience for her sister and occasionally snaps at her parents, though she is truly a kind and caring person. Compassion from her grandmother, along with the tidbit that her mother was a temperamental child, helps her feel less adrift. Middle grade readers, especially girls, will appreciate her spunk, and those with younger siblings will sympathize with Penina’s situation. Highly recommended for grades 3–6.

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