Friday, September 11, 2015

Book Review: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

Title: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Enjoyment Rating: *****
Source: Digital Copy
Content Alert: A clean read

When I was a little girl, I loved novels in series. Little House gave way to Betsy-Tacy and All of a Kind Family, and then I started reading Anne of Green Gables and read all eight books at least once a year until I left for college. I wanted my daughters to have this same kind of series experience, but sometimes I worry that the world has changed so much in the last thirty years that Betsy-Tacy doesn't have the same allure for my daughters that it did for me, and so far, they haven't shown much interest in any of the books series that I adored as a girl (which is fine, I guess, there are a lots of good books out there, right?). Then I came upon The Penderwicks, which my lovely friend Catherine mentioned in her list of top summer reads for kids in a segment on Channel 5. Maren and I started reading this together, but then she wanted to read something else, so I finished on my own. The Penderwicks is the first book in a series of five about four sisters who take a summer vacation with their widowed father to a cottage on an estate in the Berkshires. They have lots of adventures with Jeffrey, who lives in the big house with his imposing mother.

The Penderwicks is the kind of book that could take place in 1950 or 2015. While Birdsall mentions a computer once, the book feels totally timeless. The girls have the kind of unplugged, roaming adventures that parents think don't really happen any more. I loved the characters of each of the four girls, who are nicely differentiated by the author, and with whom most readers will find someone to identify. I'm definitely hooked-- I want to see where The Penderwicks go from here, and I want to take my kids to a cottage in the mountains without wifi and see what happens.

1 comment:

Caroljeanann said...

I've read three of these books. They turn me into a nine year old hidden away in some covert place with my nose in a book all day. The first book is my favorite. The second The Penderwicks on Gardham Street was good, too, but didn't have quite the same magic as the first. I thought the third tackled a very tough subject that might be hard for young kids to grasp. But I'm speaking from inside my bubble where neither I nor my own children had to encounter something so emotionally wrenching. I guess it's no worse than The Parent Trap but it seems harder for all involved in this piece of fiction to handle. Maybe I'll wait til next spring time to read The Penderwicks in Spring, the lastest in the series. You said there were five. Did I miss one?