The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy; The Penderwicks on Gardham Street; The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
There are books that are exciting and thrilling, holding you on the edge of your chair; there are books that make you laugh; and there are books that contain numerous twists and turns of plot, intricately setting up the conclusion. The books in the Penderwicks series are not those kind of books.
Then there are the books that you just smile at, content knowing the end from nearly the beginning, savoring the characters and loving the plot — such as it is — and patiently waiting for the characters to realize what you already know. The books in the Penderwicks series are those kind of books: ones you want to cuddle up with, enjoy, and then thrust upon everyone you know, in order to share the happiness.
The true charm of the books, honestly, are that they’re modern — there are computers, and issues like divorce, cancer and bad parents — and yet, reading them, you feel transported to a different place and time. When things were simpler, and children could have adventures that didn’t involve anything dangerous or dark.
Simply, the series is about a family, the Penderwicks, of four girls: Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty. Their mother died of cancer when Batty was born, and for the past four years, they, along with their father, have been managing. The first book takes them to a summer cottage where they meet their honorary brother Jeffrey and have adventures. The second finds them at home that fall, getting into scrapes at school, falling into first love, and, perhaps most surprisingly, finding a new wife for their wonderfully absent-minded father. The third jettisons their dad, his new wife, and Rosalind, focusing instead on the three younger girls and Jeffrey as they vacation at a seaside cottage in Maine.
There’s much to love about these books; the adventures, sure. But there’s humor, and love, and the sisters. Birdsall gives each sister her own unique personality, strong and vulnerable at the same time, entertaining and endearing. It’s impossible not to fall in love with each one. (But especially Batty. And her dog, Hound.)
They are not deep books, but they are so well written that you will find them completely captivating, and find yourself wanting to be a part of the Penderwick family as well.