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The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
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The Penderwicks (2005)

by Jeanne Birdsall

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2,4871432,455 (4.14)119
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Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
Models good sibling relationships. Excellent and interesting characters.
  Robinjhud | Jul 24, 2015 |
Absolutely enchanting, especially for fans of [b:Five Children and It|8501608|Five Children and It|E. Nesbit|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328336990s/8501608.jpg|975095] and others by Nesbit, and [b:The Moffats|42337|The Moffats (The Moffats, #1)|Eleanor Estes|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348344248s/42337.jpg|2314939] and others by Estes. So nostalgic I hope it gets a much wider readership than anything this innocent is likely to.

ETA. I see that it has become fairly popular, and the sequel was good, too. Yay! For more read-alikes, I highly recommend [b:Family Grandstand|1657050|Family Grandstand|Carol Ryrie Brink|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348752917s/1657050.jpg|1651731] and probably others by [a:Carol Ryrie Brink|5325|Carol Ryrie Brink|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1283884711p2/5325.jpg]. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
I promised myself I'd focus on not writing sardonic, Gen-Xer reviews because they're hurtful and not at all compassionate to the authors who've worked so hard to bring their literary children to us. But this book makes that a bit of a challenge because I had such high hopes for the series, and I feel kind of let down.

I picked this book up because a friend said that she and her son were loving the series and because the author is from Massachusetts (I always try to show pride in my adopted home locale by reading the local authors; I was not at all disappointed by Utahan Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl) and because it won a National Book Award in 2005 and I generally have a favorable opinion of National Book Award Winners and runners-up (and 2005 was the year I became a mom so I think of it as an auspicious year).

So, now the challenge to be gentle.

On the positive side, this book was clearly informed by classics of children's literature. It had elements of The Secret Garden and the Narnia series and Little Women and The Sound of Music and even Curious George (I'm thinking of the rabbits here). But I think it took Birdsall a good 2/3 of the way through the book to find her unique theme.

The characters were disappointingly (but not unpredictably for children's literature), two-dimensional. Rosalind is the dutiful older sister, Skye is the tomboy who hates dresses and and loves math and can't stand the idea of nurturing another human being (even if that's her 4-year-old sister), Jane loves to stay in her room and write but is also, inexplicably, a soccer phenom, and Batty is alternately younger than her four years (wearing wings all the time, hiding behind her sisters) and older than her four years (speaking up for herself to adults she fears in the last two chapters). And the father. Sure, his wife died four years ago, but really...how can you be so uninvolved in your kids' lives? I'm not a fan of a man who lets a 12-year-old take over the parenting responsibilities (and she was 8 when her mom died...).

Reading this book I was struck by the reality that I'm closer in age to the parents in children's books than I am to the children. And in some of my daughter's favorites (the Little House books and the Ramona books come to mind), I'm older than the parents. And I have no idea how to start building a log house or how to slaughter a pig, and only the most vague idea of how to jump-start a car (and after watching the main character of the show Breaking Bad blow up a car by strategically placing a squeegee on a car battery, I think I might be too afraid to even attempt to jump-start a car). I don't stack up well to these parents at all. Even the sub-par parents in this book have knowledge of botany and Latin, two subjects in which I'm woefully lacking.

None of these is the reason I won't be reading this book to my daughter. She's six, but a very strong reader and, I think, ready to tackle a lot of more "grown-up" issues. She and I read Bambi for crying out loud. The kid is ready for reality.

But.

I'm not ready for her to be thinking about crushes, and I think crushes were an issue in the book not only for the 12-year-old, but also for the 11-year-old and the 10-year-old. Why bring crushes into it at all? I'm grateful that (spoiler alert) Birdsall didn't let them go anywhere, but she left the hope, and that's almost as bad.

I don't know. I just wasn't all that thrilled with this book. It wasn't awful, but still I think I'll table the series for a while. I think I'd be more likely to read my daughter Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events before I'd read her this series, but I wouldn't keep her from the Penderwicks if she expressed an interest. I'd rather her read this series than Babysitters Club or Goosebumps, but I'd also like her to stick with E.B. White and Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl for as long as possible.
( )
  ImperfectCJ | Apr 7, 2015 |
Love, love, love this book. Read it out loud to my kids -- ages 7 and 8. It's a book about ordinary kids. Models good sibling relationships. Excellent and interesting characters. Funny and fun. ( )
  amydelpo | Dec 9, 2014 |
(4.8)
  mrsforrest | Nov 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Bluey
First words
For a long time after that summer, the four Penderwick sisters still talked of Arundel.
Quotations
The Hound Draw for Order was a time-honored ritual with the sisters. Names were written on small pieces of paper, then dropped on the ground along with bits of broken dog biscuit. As Hound snuffled among the biscuit pieces, he couldn't help but knock into the papers. The person whose paper the big nose hit first was given first choice.
“The cuter the boy, the mushier your brain.”
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Book description
The Penderwicks are four sisters, as different as chalk from cheese, yet as close as can be. The eldest, Rosalind, is responsible and practical; Skye, stubborn and feisty; dreamy, artistic, budding novelist, Jane; and shy little Batty, who doesn't go anywhere without her butterfly wings. And not forgetting Hound, their large lumbering lovable dog. The four girls and their absent-minded father head off for their summer holidays, but instead of the cosy tumbledown cottage they expect, they find themselves on a huge estate called Arundel, with magnificent gardens ripe for exploring. It isn't long before they become embroiled in all sorts of scrapes with new-found friend, Jeffrey - but his mother, the icy-hearted Mrs Tifton, must be avoided at all costs. Chaotic adventures ensue, and it soon becomes a summer the sisters will never forget...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440420474, Paperback)

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

While vacationing with their widowed father in the Berkshire Mountains, four young sisters, ages four through twelve, share adventures with a local boy, much to the dismay of his snobbish mother.

» see all 3 descriptions

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