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Love, Penelope: 07/17/18
Love, Penelope by Joanne Rocklin and illustrated by Lucy Knisley is set in Oakland in the year before same-sex marriages were given the green light by the Supreme court, and in the first year that the Golden State Warriors became a phenomenon. Though the novel is written by a Montrealer, this middle grade novel is the best East Bay depiction I've read.
In school Penelope has to do a heritage project but she's stumped because her father is dead and her mother is an orphan. The story she's been told is that both of her birth parents were orphans. The only one in her immediate family that has a heritage is Sammy, her mother's girlfriend.
Penelope outlines how she ends up fabricating her heritage by borrowing Sammy's in a series of letters she writes to her soon to be sibling as her mother is pregnant. This isn't a story of a much older half sibling being jealous of the baby-to-be. Penelope is thrilled to be a big sister.
Through Penelope's project we learn about Sammy's family. She's half Ohlone. Thankfully Penelope knows that she can't just claim to be Ohlone, even though that's what she first blurted out in school. Her project evolves into a way to honor her second Mom.
In the background of all of this are the Warriors. You live in the East Bay you can't avoid them. Penelope's enthusiasm for them rings true with so many children her age I know.
I could on for pages and pages about how authentic this book is. To that, though, I would end up spoiling the charming details. This book is delightful from start to finish.