Penny’s first clue that life in Hog’s Hollow will be a little more permanent is when her mom opens the cupcake shop. Penny used to live in New York City with her mom and dad. Now her parents have split. She hoped it would be temporary. She loved her old life and now has to make a new one. Her big troubles began when she and her mom make cupcakes for the local “it girl”, Charity. An accident at the party sends cupcakes flying, filling the birthday girl’s hair with pink frosting. Charity decides to bully Penny, making her life miserable. Another problem, they like the same boy. Luckily another outsider, Tally befriends her. The two girls have much more in common than they realize. Penny must deal with bullies, building a new life and her feelings for a boy sometimes acts like he is interested and sometimes does not. The revenge Tally comes up with is very creative. They spin the bullying to make themselves look less bothered. Many teens will relate to one or more of the characters. I love the characters. Tally is strong girl who isn’t afraid to paint her hair wild colors. She has her own heartache, but builds a good life with her kind aunt. Charity is so nasty. What could make a girl so mean? I love reading about the different designs Penny has for the cupcakes. This book is good for a teen dealing with divorce or bullies.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Talk about the bullying Penny receives from Charity. Why is Charity so mean? Talk about how Tally spins the meanness and gets her revenge.
Marcus talks about what jolly rancher flavors say about a person. What is your favorite flavor? What do you think it says about you?
Penny says “In the City, I would dress to be noticed. Here I try to dress to disappear.” Discuss. What would make a person do either?
Why do you think Marcus ignores Penny in school but is friendly when they meet on the beach?
Marcus talks about how his father works on his planet sculptures as a something to do so he does not have to feel. Discuss.
Penny says she smiles when she thinks about Snowball. The bird lost both her wings but seems to be the happiest creature she’s ever met. Talk about adapting when you’ve lost something really important.
If teens want, they can talk about their own experience with their parent’s divorce.
Compare “the way life should be” with “the way life is.”