The Penderwicks

A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
Jeanne Birdsall
375 831 436
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 
272 pages
Grade / Age level: 

It may have been the old fashioned cover with all those happy children, or the subtitle, but the fact is, I grabbed a copy of the Penderwicks from the library even though it’s a 2005 copyright: our read-aloud selections are almost never beyond 1950! It took me a while, however, and some research online, before I inserted the CD into the van’s stereo, and not without some trepidation. Needless to say my personal experience with contemporary children’s materials has been… bumpy at best. But this one promised to be different.

By the second chapter, we were hooked. Four sisters and a dog? My girls loved that. A professor dad? With lots of Latin phrases? I loved that. I found pro life themes all over, in references to their loving, deceased mother and other positive references to large families. The story revolves around the family's summer spell in a rented cottage located in a wealthy estate with breathtaking, manicured gardens. The sisters' personalities emerge real and believable: in our conversations about the book we discussed things such as Skye's decision to learn Algebra over the summer, or our desire to read Jane's Sabrina Star stories.

I am delighted to recommend The Penderwicks for family reading. Jane Birdsall’s writing will undoubtedly improve your young readers’, or listeners’ as in our case, writing. It’s like if someone, while captivating them with a simple yet profound story of family and friendship, is able to exemplify to them all of the good writing skills we’ve been trying to instill in them for years!

We can't wait for the sequel, coming out next month. And I just love the fact that the author, 42, had never written anything until this. Her writing, to us, had a crystalline quality. And a National Book Award to boot! The CD audio version was read carefully and with very well-done character voices.

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