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PENNY PARKER is a teen-aged sleuth and amateur reporter with an uncanny knack for uncovering and solving unusual, sometimes bizarre mysteries. The only daughter of widower Anthony Parker, publisher of the "Riverview Star," Penny has been raised to be self-sufficient, outspoken, innovative, and extraordinarily tenacious. Her cheerful, chatty manner belies a shrewd and keenly observant mind. Penny was the creation of Mildred A. Wirt, who was also the author of the original Nancy Drew series (under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene). Wirt became frustrated when she was pushed to "tone down" Nancy Drew and make her less independent and daring. With Penny Parker, Wirt had a freer hand and received full credit. Wirt once said, " 'I always thought Penny Parker was a better Nancy Drew than Nancy is." In THE WISHING WELL, the once-grand, now abandoned Marborough Estate and its legendary stone wishing well have become the center of odd happenings. The reclusive owner unexpectedly returns, only to lock herself secretively away in the mansion. Soon after, an ancient stone is unearthed on the estate, upon which is carved a 400-year-old message. Or is it a hoax? Who are the two strangers who repeatedly visit the wishing well in the dead of night? Penny boldly investigates, certain that danger threatens her new friend Rhoda, a gifted, but poverty-stricken artist. - Summary by Cheryl Adam