Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Rebecca Chace
Once-affluent orphan June Sparrow is forced to suddenly leave her home in New York City and move to her aunt's house in South Dakota after she unexpectedly loses her parents' fortune. While looking through her mother's old things, June finds a penny book written in her mother's handwriting. June is intrigued by what her mother calls "The Big One", a valuable 1943 penny, and June hopes that if she can find it, she and Indigo can return to New York. Unfortunately, she has only a cryptic "to-do" list to guide her search, and finding the penny is not as straightforward as June anticipated. With the help of newfound friends, June eventually happens upon "The Big One", and along the way, discovers the true value of family and friendship.
Clever yet totally accessible, June Sparrow and the Million Dollar Penny is part mystery and part coming-of-age tale perfect for middle-grade readers. The topics and themes are also appropriate for younger readers looking for more advanced reading material. Readers will find the unique small-town setting and relationship between June and Indigo original and refreshing, and riddles woven throughout the narrative will keep readers engaged until the very last page. Those who fell in love with Wilbur from Charlotte's Web and Winn-Dixie from Because of Winn-Dixie will delight in the antics of June's sidekick Indigo Bunting. This heartwarming tale is a reminder of the value of family and friendship and the meaning of home.