Penelope wishes she were starting fifth grade with her best friend, Tim, who recently died of cancer. When everyone pairs off with friends from last year, Penelope is alone, with only her dad, the new janitor, to keep her company. Dad means well, but he keeps embarrassing her by acting more like a kid than a janitor. To ease her loneliness at school, Penelope begins writing secretly to Tim on "While You Were Out" notes. But when her messages mysteriously begin to be answered, Penelope realizes she’s not alone in missing Tim.
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J. Irvin Kuns lives in Sandusky, Ohio.From School Library Journal:
Grade 4-6–"Today I started school with my dad instead of my best friend." Penelope Grant, fifth grader in a town so small that the local school has only three classrooms, has recently lost her best friend, Tim, to cancer, and her artistic, restless father is the new janitor. The title refers to those ubiquitous pink message slips, here used by the girl to send notes to Tim. This sweet and accessible story carries the protagonist through the difficult first few days of the school year. It shows her beginning to accept loss and change, and also beginning to see beyond her own narrow perspective. In short, it's a prepubescent coming-of-age novel with some comedy lightening the sorrow. Told in the first person, the story also emphasizes poetry in many ways: Penelope has been to Poetry Therapy (her mother wants her to learn to express her feelings), and she often sees the world as a series of metaphors (her father's "office" at school is compared to a kingdom, with a scepter, a throne, and a drawbridge). While this first novel is not without a few flaws (the father's behavior when he joins the children playing marbles or jumping rope can seem implausible), it is a touching story with an appealing main character and an underlying authenticity.–Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
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Book Description Puffin, 2006. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0142406287