The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
Publisher: Yearling
Genre: Contemporary, Middle Grade (8 – 12 y.o.)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.

The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.

Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.

How much trouble the Penderwicks get into?
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The Penderwick’s Summer takes an unexpected turn when the place they had planned on vacationing at is unexpectedly unavailable. When Mr. Penderwick hears of Arundel cottage, he books it sight unseen. From the moment they arrive, the Penderwicks are awed by the beauty of Arundel and are itching to explore every inch of the estate. As I read, I shared their excitement. I could clearly picture the grounds and the mansion in my mind and couldn’t wait to find out what adventures awaited the Penderwicks! Even better, Jeffrey turns out to be a great friend. Despite a rocky start, the Penderwicks welcome him into their group with open arms.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Tifton, Jeffrey’s mom, is less than thrilled to see the sisters roaming around her property. She is determined to win a prestigious garden competition and wants the girls to keep to their side of the wall. However, the Penderwick sisters can’t turn down the possibility of a good adventure. Will their curiosity get them into more trouble than they bargained for?

The Penderwick sisters are certainly an entertaining bunch! Each sister has a distinct personality. Rosalind is the oldest and is the voice of reason and caretaker of her sisters since their mother passed away. Skye the next oldest. She is a bit of a tomboy and definitely the most outspoken of the group. She often doesn’t think before she speaks. Consequently, her mouth frequently gets her into trouble. Then comes Jane. She has an amazing imagination and has her heart set on becoming an author. She is very dedicated to her craft, and I have no doubt that she will be successful! Batty is the youngest. She has a way with animals and a special bond with their loveable dog, Hound. I like them all immensely and couldn’t possibly pick a favorite!

Jeffrey had no idea how much his life was going to change when the Penderwicks arrived! Jeffrey seems very lonely to me. He has no close friends and his mother has future all planned out. Mrs. Tifton wants Jeffrey to go to a military academy. Jeffrey wants to study music. Despite her stiff and strict exterior, Mrs. Tifton means well. She truly loves her son and he loves her, but she doesn’t see how unhappy Jeffrey is. However, their relationship is not broken beyond repair! They just need to have a long, honest conversation. I kept my fingers crossed that they would make the time to talk. Fortunately, with a little help from his new friends, Jeffrey just might find the courage to talk to his mom about his dreams.

The Penderwicks is such a sweet story. While it is definitely character driven, the plot is interesting, if a bit slow at times. In the space of a few weeks, the Penderwicks find themselves experiencing heartbreak, running from a bull, tracking down lost rabbits, and facing the wrath of Mrs. Tifton!

I truly enjoyed reading The Penderwicks. It is a heartwarming tale perfect for young and old alike. I’ve grown attached to the sisters and look forward to reading more about them in the next installment of this charming series!


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