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A Penny in my Pocket Review by Kathy Gelzer

Joyce Hill
Mushgush Press

Using the dates on old pennies as a jumping off point to study the past is the premise of A Penny in my Pocket. The 200+ page book tells the story of five young students who are given the assignment of finding the oldest penny they can and giving a presentation on what it would have been like to live during the year that penny was made. Intermingled between the stories of these modern day children are the stories of children growing up during the year of the pennies they found.

The children learn about the years 1909, 1918, 1927, 1933, and 1941 and cover immigration, influenza, the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Depression, and World War II, respectively.

This book makes a great read aloud. My children who range in age from 7 to 13 kept begging for more as I read it to them at the lunch table. Author Joyce Hill has a good ear for natural conversation and family humor. However, there were some sibling squabbles and negative comments that are probably somewhat typical but came across as mean remarks to our family.

A glossary of penny expressions (a penny saved is a penny earned, for example) is included in the back of the book as well as discussion questions for each chapter pair. Home and classroom activities can be found at, though I had trouble navigating the website, specifically with the toolbar. The website has quizzes, vocabulary, imagery (simile, metaphor, alliteration, and personification), recipes, activities, and links.

A Penny in my Pocket along with a penny collecting folder would make a great gift combo. I think most children ages 7 and up would enjoy reading this book or having it read to them. The stories of children past and present are most engaging and make for an enjoyable way to study our past.

Product review by: Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2008