Cover image for One bright Penny
One bright Penny
McCaughrean, Geraldine.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Viking, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 x 29 cm
An old man bets each of his children that they can't fill the barn for a penny.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.9 0.5 65192.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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In this clever tale, Pa gives his three children a challenge. He declares with a chuckle, "If one of you can fill the barn for a penny, I'll give you the farm and go sleep in the chicken coop!" Clearly, Pa doubts any of his children will succeed. Of course, that just makes Bill, Bob, and Penny even more determined to win. Each of the children thinks long and hard and comes up with an idea-but only Penny's plan is ingenious enough to restore harmony to the family.

Author Notes

Geraldine McCaughrean was born in Enfield, England on June 6, 1951. She was educated at Christ Church College, Canterbury. She has written more than 160 books and plays for children and adults.

Her writing career includes the retelling of such classics as One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, The Canterbury Tales, and The Bronze Cauldron: Myths and Legends of the World, which is a collection of stories from all over the world. She has received numerous awards including three Whitbread Children's Book Awards for A Little Lower Than the Angels, Gold Dust, and Not the End of the World. She also received the Guardian Prize and Carnegie Medal for A Pack of Lies, the Beefeater Children's Novel Award for Gold Dawn, the Michael L. Printz Award for The White Darkness, and the 2018 Carnegie Medal for children's and YA books for her middle-grade novel Where the World Ends.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1^-3. Like "Rumpelstiltskin," this story sets up a dare in which the trickster is tricked. Howard's paintings conjure up a farm setting during the Depression that looks like Dorothy's Kansas home, but is in full, warm color. Three farm kids live with their father, who, every Friday, gives them each a penny and a lecture on the value of money. Part of Pa's spiel is that, in his day, he could fill the barn with winter feed for a penny. One of the kids responds that he can fill the barn for a cent, too. The fairy tale overtones deepen as each kid, in turn, tries to fill the barn--first with turkey feathers, then with light from a thousand candles, and finally, with music. Both the glowing illustrations and the kids-triumph-after-struggle plot will keep children in suspense. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

A book with a rural backdrop by British author McCaughrean (A Pack of Lies) produces a few incongruities for readers this side of the pond ("You foolish great lummocking girl!" says Pa, sounding more like Manchester than Missouri; and the pennies are silver rather than copper) but the story holds together as soundly as the barn that provides its setting. Pa gives his young sons Bill and Bob and his daughter, Penny, each a penny every Friday, but never without reminding them that one penny used to fill the barn with feed. When Bill retorts, "I bet I could fill the barn for one penny!" his father laughs mockingly and promises the farm to the child who can meet the challenge. He also adds that he'll stop giving the children pocket money if none of them can do it. Bill tries feathers from a turkey farm, and Bob makes thousands of candles, but only clever Penny really finds a way to fill the barn. Her father laughs with delight, not cruelly, as he used to, but "a big, ringing laugh that filled the old barn right up to the roof beams." Howard's (The Bravest Bear Ever) illustrations create a tall-tale mood with a softening of the edges of his confident pencil strokes; the children's faces may be round and sweet, but their expressions as they plot to win the farm are strikingly true-to-life. This tale of inventiveness is right on the money. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-A cranky father challenges his children to "fill the barn for a penny," announcing that he will give the farm over to the one who succeeds and move into the chicken coop. He snickers derisively as the persistent and creative siblings take turns filling the barn respectively with feathers (Pa sneezes them away) and light (a draft blows the candles out). The third child, Penny, buys an old banjo and fills the barn with music. Pa concedes defeat but his daughter releases him from his bet, telling him kindly that now it's his turn to relax at home. Her brothers will share the house with him; she just wants to go join a band. Her generosity transforms Pa, whose snicker changes to a hearty barn-filling laugh as if a spell has been broken. Howard's watercolors are pleasingly straightforward, homey, and detailed. The story echoes the form and feeling of traditional tales involving impossible challenges from the Grimms' "Rumpelstiltskin" to the Norse "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." The accomplishment of an unachievable goal is a powerful, loaded theme. In McCaughrean's pleasing dose of present-day magic, it's great to see young characters, especially those as modest and warmhearted as Penny and her siblings, driving the achievement.-Liza Graybill, Worcester Public Library, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.