Title: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Enjoyment Rating: *****
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. 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 a vacation at a cottage in the mountains without wifi and see what happens.