Book Review

Book Review : The Penderwicks

The Penderwicks  |  Jeanne Birdsall

Awards: National Book Award


The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy  is a fun romp through a summer vacation of the Penderwick sisters; Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. After their summer plans fall through, Mr. Penderwick rents Arundel Cottage, belonging to mean Mrs. Tifton. The Penderwick sisters gang up with her son Jeffry, and find themselves in all manner of mischief involving an angry bull, Cagney the gardener, a runaway rabbit, the most awkward birthday party ever, Mrs. Tifton’s boyfriend Derek Dupree, a Garden Competition, a rope ladder escape, and lots of brownies.

Pages: 272

Rating : PG

Parental death and an absent parent. Young girl crush on much older boy. Teen Kissing. Adult Kissing (heard, not seen.) Secret keeping from parents. Yelling at adults. Adults yelling at kids.

My Thoughts:

I read The Penderwicks  in 2007, and again just this week. My first impression, almost ten years ago, was that I liked it. With echoes of simpler times, The Penderwicks transports the reader into a carefree summer story that is fun and full of quirky problems. That being said, what do I think now?  It is a fun book, but it isn’t a great book. The problem for me came when the story style, written for an eight or nine year-old, also mixed in content for older audiences, taking the book into a different emotional level. Rosalind, who is just twelve, spends the entire book with a crush on a much older boy. This struggle isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it gave me the feeling that Birdsall was trying to hit too many targets at once.

My overall feeling for this book is a shrug of the shoulders. Some people will really love it and some won’t really care. It’s the perfect read for ages 8-12, but it lacks the qualities that make it a great reread. If you want an entertaining light book,I think you will enjoy the The Penderwicks. 

If you enjoy this book, you might also like The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew and The All-of-a-Kind Family




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