The new children's story from Marcia Sbarbaro-Pezzella and her brother, Vic Sbarbaro, is a tale of separation and reunion. Illustrated by Josh Smith, "Penelope the Lonesome Pillow" ($12.95 in paperback from North State Children's Books) begins with a little cottage in the Swiss Alps. An aging and lonely widow, Gretene Fritzl, has only two friends, "a rocking chair and matching pillow that she had stuffed and covered. She called the rocking chair Roxie and the matching pillow Penelope."
Vic Sbarbaro, a Certified Health Education Specialist who teaches at Butte College and Chico State University, edited the story from one his sister wrote. Marcia, born in Weed, worked as "a special education teacher for disabled children" and now helps with her husband's restaurant, Pezzella's.
Mrs. Fritzl loved Roxie and Penelope ("Penny") and in turn they talked with her. "Mrs. Fritzl was always afraid to tell anyone for fear that they would think her crazy. Mrs. Fritzl was a religious woman; she actually felt that God sent down special blessings to this particular rocking chair and pillow. Why they even had cloth eyes, ears, and voices to keep her company."
But together-time was not to last. Mrs. Fritzl died. "It was a rainy day in the small Swiss village. The little Fritzl cottage was dark with grief. Roxie and Penelope both shed a thread of a tear for their beloved mistress. They would never forget her or her kindliness to them. They also realized they would never speak to another human being for a long time until they proved worthy of their special gift to talk."
What follows is is a long journey as Roxie and Penelope are put in separate boxes and shipped to America. Roxie's box gets an address, but somehow Penelope slips through the cracks and her box ends up at the Lost and Found. Then she gets passed from person to person, finally ending up with the Barnes family. Billy, the teenager, uses Penny as a cushion when he changes his car's oil. But his sister, Kathy Sue, who happens to be blind, takes a special liking to Penny. And when Kathy Sue's dad builds her a playhouse and brings home an old rocking chair for her to sit in--a little magic happens.