Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

Image from
Yearling, 2005

Spend three glorious weeks with the Penderwick sisters as they vacation with their beloved father and their devoted dog, Hound. The sisters, responsible Rosalind (12), action-packed Skye (11), aspiring writer Jane (10), and animal-loving Batty (4), have thrilling adventures, narrow escapes, and best of all make new friends staying at the cottage at Arundel. Jeffrey, the son of the owner of Arundel, is by far their most adored friend of the summer and he quickly becomes an honorary Penderwick. But Jeffrey’s strict mother, Mrs. Tifton, isn’t so sure “those Penderwicks” are a good influence on her son. And of course, the girls can’t seem to stay out of trouble no matter how hard they try! Their summer at Arundel is truly a summer to remember.  

This 2005 National Book award winner is set in present day, but has a nostalgic, classic feel to it. I often describe this book as Little Women for younger readers and set in modern day. The Penderwicks are a loving family and although the sisters squabble, at the end of the day their love for one another shines through. The children get in trouble, but they always have the best intentions. The light and humorous dialogue is believable and the plot moves along at a steady clip. The sisters have diverse interests and strengths, making it easy for readers to find an identifiable character.  This is a great book to read aloud as a family as the sisters range in age from 4-12 and the content is family-friendly.

Read an excerpt of the book or listen to a clip of the audiobook.

*Many other books and plays, as well as quotations, are woven into the text of this book. Bring in some of these books/plays (complete or abridged versions) or summarize the plot. Here are a few of the books referenced (how many more can you find?):
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

*Read more about the Penderwicks in the sequels:

*Learn more about Jeanne Birdsall and the Penderwicks on Birdsall’s website.

The Exiles trilogy by Hilary McKay
The Locked Garden by Gloria Whelan
The Moffats series by Eleanor Estes
The Secret Garden by Frances HodgsonBurnett

Age 6+ / Grade 1+


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