Reviewed by Eoin
The Penderwick family is made up of one lovable dog, (Hound), one affable father, (Mr. Penderwick), and four very interesting daughters. The youngest one is called Batty, then comes, in order, Jane, Skye, and the eldest is Rosalind. The author of these books, Jeanne Birdsall, doesn’t write in a particularly fast-paced style, but she always keeps her readers on their toes. She manages to suck you into their adventures. These are not fantasy adventures, but they are definitely timeless adventures nonetheless. So much happens in any one book that is it hard to try to summarize, but you can count on fun, excitement, humor, and one really loyal dog.
“For a long time after that summer, the four Penderwick sisters still talked of Arundel. Fate drove us there, Jane would say. No, it was the greedy landlord who sold our vacation house on Cape Cod, someone else would say, probably Skye. Who knew which was right?”
This quote tells you about the difference in the sisters and it also gives a sense of the gentle but also funny and sharp tone the author uses throughout the series.
In the first book, we are introduced to the Penderwick Sisters. During the summer, the sisters rent a small cozy cottage in Arundel. It does not just turn out to be an ordinary vacation. They meet a nice boy, whose mother is a snotty rich woman and her boyfriend is, well, let’s just say even worse. The sisters encounter Jeffrey in a way that is far from ordinary. In spite of his unfortunate connections, the sisters become friends with Jeffrey and there are so many events that happen to them in just one short summer!
The second book takes place once summer is over, during the school year. The news of this book is that now the sisters have concocted The Save Daddy Plan, which means that they are responsible for some horrible, disastrous “fix-ups.” There is frightening talk for the sisters about their father dating, and even more terrifying than that: marriage. By the end, there is a new Save Daddy Plan. To say more would give away the ending, but just be confident that everyone ends up happy, even Hound.
In the latest Penderwick tale, the sisters are split up. Rosalind goes off the beach. That leaves the rest of the sisters to go visit Aunt Clare in Maine. Hound accompanies them, and he refuses to let Batty out of his sight. Skye is really horrified to realize that she is the OAP, oldest available Penderwick. The situation has changed a little, and there is new anxiety about the different roles in the family. Also, there is a surprise appearance from Jeffrey, who stays with them the whole time. This book is as thrilling and full of unexpected twists & turns as the others, but one is special to Jeffrey.
The four Penderwick sisters range in age from four to thirteen, but I highly recommend this series to people of all ages! Kids who are not yet reading at this level would enjoy having the books read aloud. And the great news is that Jeanne Birdsall plans to write more of her fantastic books.