November 3, 2009

Review of: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

The subtitle (by the way is that what it's called?) of The Penderwicks refers to Rosalind (12), Skye (11), Jane(10) Elizabeth aka Batty (4), Yaz and Carla and Jeffrey who turns 11 about 1/2 way through the three weeks that the Penderwick clan is staying in the cottage at Arundel Hall. There is also Hound (the girls dog) and Cagney (the 19 year old gardener). There are, of souse, some grown up, but as with any great children's book, they are somewhat incidental.
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel's sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel's owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will - won't they? One thing's for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.
Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.

There comes a point early on in the book when Rosalind, the mother of the group, begins to crush on Cagney. What 12 year old girl hasn't crushed on an older man? Cagney is very sweet to all of the Penderwick girls. He never seems to realize how Rosalind feels about him. Skye is the spirited one. Jane is the dreamy, future author of the bunch. My hunch is that Jane is based, at least in part, on the author herself. Then there is baby sister Batty. She is very close to their dog and talks to him and understands his woofs. The girls' mother died when Batty was still a baby.

Poor Jeffrey has a mother who is snobbish and thinks the girls (especially Skye, whom she is forever calling Jane) are a bad influence on him. Mrs. Tifton wants Jeffrey to go to Pencey, a military academy, just like her father the General. All Jeffrey wants to do is play the piano. He has zero interest in being a soldier.

There are plenty of hi-jinx involved. There is an incident with a bull. There is an escaped rabbit to be rescued. Escaping from windows. A plan to runaway. There are so many adventures packed into the less than 300 pages of The Penderwicks.

I loved this book. There is more in the series and I will definitely be checking the children's section of my library for them!

I am awarding The Penderwicks my Hyacinth award.

Title: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
ISBN: 9780375831430
Pages: 272
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Jun 4, 2005)
Genre(s): Fiction, Children's Fiction, Middle Grades, Series
Source: I borrowed this book from my local library.
Grade: A+ What does this grade mean?

Books in this series:
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy**
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
Jeanne Birdsall is working on the third book in this series. She is planning on there being five all together.
**This review.

Buy The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall:
IndieBound {} Powell's {} Amazon


  1. I've had this one on my Amazon wishlist for some time. Glad that you enjoy it!

  2. I'm reading the second one right now. =)


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