Caroline Davis

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

In Books on February 1, 2010 at 12:05 am

Summary: When their traditional summer vacation plans are canceled, the Penderwick sisters and their widowed father make last minute arrangements to rent a cottage on an estate for three weeks.  While their Latin-spouting botanist father focuses on his work, the four sisters explore the estate and make fast friends with Jeffrey, the owner’s son and perfect summer companion.  Thus they embark on a series of adventures, as long as Jeffrey’s villainous mother, Mrs. Tifton, doesn’t succeed in destroying their fun!

Highlights: There is so much to love about this book.  The sisters – Rosalind, age 12, Skye, age 11, Jane, age 10, and Batty, age 4 – are smart girls depicted with individual personalities and interests and a common family pride.  The sibling dynamics and tone of the novel hearken back to nostalgic classics in children’s literature, such as Little Women (by Louisa May Alcott) and The Railway Children (by Edith Nesbit).  The book is humorous and light reading that will appeal to 8-12 year olds (and the adults who are lucky enough to read it out loud to them).  If another set of famous siblings, the Pevensies, had not discovered a passage to Narnia in the wardrobe, one might imagine that their exploits on the old professor’s estate would be similar to the Penderwick’s summer.  Winner of the 2005 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.


Interview with Jeanne Birdsall (NPR)

Jeanne Birdsall’s Official Website

Transcript of Birdsall’s National Book Award Acceptance Speech

Other Reviews:

@ A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

@ Big A little a

@ Here in the Bonny Glen

  1. I read this book a few months ago and just loved it!! I am so glad you blogged this book for class…I forgot all about it! Great review…Kristin (from LIBR 264)

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