Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Penderwicks, Jeanne Birdsall

Title: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Published: 2007, Random House
Category: Children's Fiction
Rating: 9/10

I can't remember how I discovered this book, but I am so so so happy I did. Because I love the Penderwicks! I want to be a Penderwick with all my soul. :)

The Penderwick family consists of four sisters, their absent-minded but devoted father, and a huge and badly behaved dog. Their mother died years ago, and it's fallen to the older sisters, especially the eldest, Rosalind, to take care of the youngest, an adorable four-year-old named Batty. This first book takes place during the family summer vacation -- they rent a cottage in rural Massachusetts. When they arrive they find out that the cottage is on the grounds of a great estate called Arundel, which is owned by an icy, snobby lady whose only forgiving trait is a son named Jeffrey who quickly becomes fast friends with the girls.

The Penderwicks get into all sorts of scrapes and have many summer adventures. We get to know each sister, who are all very much individuals. The book is funny and sweet, and just completely charming.

The book has a very 1950s sort of nostalgia to it; the girls don't play video games or watch TV, they play with dolls or run around outside exploring or playing soccer. My taste in books often runs a bit to the old-fashioned (some of my favorite authors are L.M. Montgomery, Mary Stewart, Louisa May Alcot, and Eva Ibbotson). Sweet nostalgic books are my comfort -- especially in children's literature. Cozy books you want to wrap around yourself are the best.

Title: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Published: 2008, Random House
Category: Children's Fiction
Rating: 9.5/10

The second in the Penderwick series. Jeanne Birdsall's website says that she's working on a third (yay!) and there will be five books in all (yay yay!). This book picks up almost immediately after the first one -- the Penderwicks are home again, returning to school and their normal activities. One thing upsets their happy equilibrium: their aunt arrives with a letter that their mother had written before she died, telling their father that it's time he started dating again. Mr. P doesn't really want to date, and the girls really really don't want him to date. So the sisters implement the Save-Daddy Plan to sabotage his reluctant efforts at dating.

I think I might have liked this one even better than the first. My favorite part was when Sky and Jane (the two middle sisters) switch homework assignments (one's good at science and the other's good at writing) with hilarious results. I can't wait to read the next book. :)


nath said...

These sounds cute and very reminiscent of Little Women! :)

What time period is it set in? and yay, your icons are back!!! :)

Jennie said...

Nath -- The books are set in the present, though the family is pretty old-fashioned. They're great books!

And yes, I sometimes forget my icons. :) lol

Li said...

I had a bit of a period earlier this year when I was re-reading LM Montgomery, the Chalet School books and Antonia Forest, so I've a feeling I should check these out!

I'm glad I'm not the only one getting into children's books.

Jennie said...

Li -- I love reading children's books sometimes. Makes me feel like a kid again. :)

Adri said...

ugh your blog is the cutest. how do you afford all these books? and also, i try the library but can't find some of them. maybe i live in the wrong city! have you ever tried renting books? i've heard of, i think it's about $10 to start per month....what do you think, oh book princess??

rachel said...

You're so right--these books are completely charming. :) I adore them, too!

Jennie said...

Hi Adri-- Thanks! I don't actually buy that many books these days (being a poor graduate student kinda sucks sometimes). I currently have a $15/mo book budget. Sorry your local library doesn't have the selection you're looking for. I've never used a book rental service, though I have used Paperback Swap, where you mail books to other people and then get credits to get books you want from other people. It's a good website.

Rachel -- I don't think they could be more charming. ;) Can't wait till the next one comes out!

Marianne McA said...


just to say I bought the first on you rec, and really enjoyed it. I shall look for the next one.

Thanks for the recommendation.

Seree said...

Is there a way I can look at your reviews by catagory? I wanted to see what other childrens fiction you recomend.

Anonymous said...

hi! thanks for this lovely blog.
i wonder if you could help me with a little question abot the soccer team in which skye and jane play: are there only girls there or are there boys too?

Jennie said...

Marianne -- Yay! I'm so glad you liked it. The second one is even better. ;)

Seree -- I'm afraid there's not a way. There were no tags on blogger when I started and I've never gone back. I did look through the archives, and I actually haven't reviewed any other children's fiction. I don't really read to much of it. Sorry!

Hi anonymous -- My memory's not that good and I don't own a copy, so I can't say. I don't remember any reference to it one way or the other. But I'm not sure. Sorry!

Anonymous said...


I have twin 9 year old daughters and we LOVE your books. I have been reading them to the girls before bed. They can't wait to read and are dissappointed when we can't. We love all the personalities of the sisters, Batty's comments, Jane and Skye, the soccer game, Mick Hart, Sabrina Star etc. We can really relate to their personalities and spend many nights giggling together as we read. We would certainly look forward to additional adventures the Penderwick sisters may have.

Anonymous said...

are you writing anymore penderwick books me and my sister loved them and were just wondering

Anonymous said...

are you writing anymore penderwick books me and my sister loved them and were just wondering

Anonymous said...

Hi Jeanne,
I'm a fourteen-year-old german girl, and I love your great books. They are so funny and nice, I could not couch it !!!
I wonder if it will give a fourth book, after 'The Penderwicks at Point Mouette'. Is there a new book coming?

I'm very interested in your books.
Where is the name 'Penderwick' from? Is Batty continuing making music? Will she get a piano?

I hope you answer my comment. :P

Very interested reader,

Jennie said...

Hi there -- I'm afraid there's been some confusion! The author of this blog is not Jeanne Birdsall! My name is Jennie, and I just read her books and wrote a review of them. You can check out her official website here:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm very sorry. I just confounded this.

But do you know if it will give a fourth book?

Sorry, Amelie :P