The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

"This is what made a book great, she thought, that you could read it over and over and never get tired of it."

Piper recommended I read this book during spring break but I waited to get it as an ebook so I could enlarge the font. (It isn't easy getting old.) 
Honestly, I adored this book. It is reminiscent of all the children's classics. Think Amazons and Swallows. Think Half Magic. It took me back to reading The Bobbsy Twins, The Borrowers, Little Women, and other books of my youth. 

This is the sweet story of the Penderwicks, a family of motherless girls and their father who head off to spend their summer vacation at a cottage in the Berkshire Mountains. They end up staying at a cottage on the grounds of Arundel, an estate with a mansion inhabited by the crabby Mrs. Tifton, her son Jeffrey, and their cook Churchie. 

Rosalind, the eldest, does her best to keep her younger siblings in line, but it is a challenging job. She finds herself infatuated with Cagney, the gardner at the big house. Sky is part jock and part mathematical wizard. Jane aspires to be a published author of Sabrina Starr novels.  Batty, the youngest, has a profound bond with animals, especially Hound, the family dog. 

The Penderwicks befriend Jeffrey. Together they have numerous adventures that distress Mrs. Tifton, who is vociferous in her dislike for them. She and her fiance, Dexter, have plans for Jeffrey that ignore Jeffrey's wishes and dreams. Ultimately his friendship with the Penderwicks is the catalyst that gives him the strength to force them to listen to him. 

Mr. Penderwick seems a bit scatterbrained and absentminded, but is there when his children need him. This is beautifully shown when he visits Jane after she has been devastated by the nasty remarks Dexter made about her writing: 
"Jane-O, you're so much better than good. You have a rare and marvellous gift for words. And your imagination! Do you remember what your mother used to say?"
"That my imagination was the eight wonder of the world."
"And your mother was a wise woman, wasn't she?"
"Yes, Daddy, I love you."
"I love you, too, daughter. Now clean up this mess and go to bed. Great authors need their rest."

Even though I suspected that this story would end up where it did, it was still extremely satisfying. I want the next one now! 

If you are looking for a great read aloud, this one is it!



  1. I adore the Penderwicks books and have read them all! :)

  2. I've only read this one so far but adored it. Have you read Half Magic and the Amazons and Swallows series?