Penelope Crumb makes a sweet and funny protagonist in the vein of Ramona Quimby: despite always trying her best, she has a knack of getting it badly wrong. In this latest book, Penelope worries that she is losing her best friend Patsy Cline to the awful Vera Bogg. Vera, ‘who is always dressed head to toenail in pink, the kind of pink that makes me feel like a raw hot dog and also a baby pig with a temperature’, is instantly dislikeable and we will Patsy to see the error of her ways, even as Penelope makes a terrible hash of being a good friend. Following a trip to the local museum, Penelope is inspired to make her own museum of important people who should never be forgotten. Her dad, who is ‘graveyard dead’, might come first on her list of people to remember, but Patsy comes a close second. When Penelope takes Patsy’s necklace for a museum piece, their friendship looks like it will be doomed.
The quirky comedy of Shaun K Stout’s writing offsets a tender and beautifully described sadness, from the loss of Penelope’s father to moving on from childhood friendships. A very enjoyable book that will make you laugh and cry, and Penelope is quite possibly a heroine you will never forget.