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The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 14, 2005

Book 1 of 4 in the Penderwicks Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4-6 -This enjoyable tale of four sisters, a new friend, and his snooty mother is rollicking fun. The girls' father is a gentle, widowed botany professor who gives his daughters free reign but is always there to support or comfort them. Rosalind, 12, has become the mother figure. Skye, 11, is fierce and hot-tempered. Jane, 10, is a budding writer of mysteries who has the disconcerting habit of narrating aloud whatever is occurring around her. Batty, four, is an endearingly shy, loving child who always wears butterfly wings. The family dog, Hound, is her protector. The tale begins as the Penderwicks embark on a summer holiday in the Berkshire Mountains, at a cottage on the grounds of a posh mansion owned by the terribly snobbish Mrs. Tifton. Her son, Jeffrey, is a brilliant pianist, but her heart is set on him attending a military academy like her beloved father. The action involves Rosalind's unrequited love for the 18-year-old gardener, Skye's enmity and then friendship with Jeffrey, Jane's improvement in her melodramatic writing style, and Batty's encounter with an angry bull whom she rather hopefully calls "nice horsie." Problems are solved and lessons learned in this wonderful, humorous book that features characters whom readers will immediately love, as well as a superb writing style. Bring on more of the Penderwicks!-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 3-6. Adults who have been longing to find books for children that remind them of their own childhood favorites need look no further. Birdsall follows in the footsteps of Elizabeth Enright, Edward Eager, and Noel Streatfeild, updating the family story yet keeping all the old-fashioned charm. The motherless Penderwick sisters--Rosalind, 12; Sky, 11; Jane, 10; and Batty, 4--are spending the summer in a Berkshire cottage on the Arundel estate. Their botanist father and protective dog, Hound, are also in attendance, though Hound is far more involved with the girls than their absentminded professor dad. After a bad beginning, the girls become friends with Jeffrey, the son of the lady of the manor, Mrs. Tifton, whose main concern is the welfare of her garden. On one level, Birdsall might be criticized for one-dimensional characterizations (Mrs. Tifton, her boyfriend), and certain minor elements that don't ring true: Tifton's prizewinning garden would hardly be left in the hands of a teenager (on whom Rosalind develops a crush). But what this comforting family story does offer are four marvelously appealing sisters, true childhood behavior (disobeying, running away, a first crush), and a writing style that will draw readers close. So satisfying, the story begs for a sequel: it would be nice to see more of the Penderwicks. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Penderwicks
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (June 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375831436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375831430
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeanne Birdsall is the National Book Award-winning author of The Penderwicks and its sequel, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (Knopf), both of which were also New York Times bestsellers. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts with her husband, three insane cats, and a stubborn Boston terrier named Cagney. Visit her website at

Customer Reviews

It was very good woth lots of adventure and excitement.
Jennifer L. Bouse
She wrote an excellent book, which I highly recommend to readers of all ages.
Team LitPick
One of the best children's books I've read in a long time.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

298 of 322 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
So you're forty-one. You've never written a book before, but you think you'd like to try your hand at it. You suspect, perhaps rightly, that you'd be pretty good at it. Before giving it a go though you live your life and fool around with photography (and by "fool around" I mean "get your photographs into the Smithsonian's permanent collection"). Then you write a children's chapter book that draws on every source from Elizabeth Ende to Edward Eager (alliterative writers are a source of wonderful books) and your little novel is written. It then garners itself a National Book Award that same year. Such is the tale of Jeanne Birdsall and her remarkable book. Having read pointed criticisms as to whether or not "The Penderwicks" should really have won the aforementioned National Book Award I went into reading the title thinking something along these lines:

"Harumph. Obviously `Autobiography of My Dead Brother' (which I haven't read either) should have won the award. It's so meaningful. This book is probably just a rehash of old classics with some utesy-cutesyness to turn off serious readers. I'll just read a little..."

Five minutes later.

"Huh. This is pretty good. Well-written. Let's just dip in a little more..."

Eighteen chapters later.

Which brings us to this review. Up against serious book after deeply meaningful book, I commend the committee of the National Book Awards for acknowledging what the Newberys, the Oscars, and pretty much all other awards offered to artistic works fail to recognize. Comedy is only easy to read. It is near impossible to create. It takes far more skill to write a meaningful piece of work that makes you laugh than a meaningful piece of work that makes you cry. Kill a puppy and the tears fall like rain.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on December 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When the Penderwick family's summer holiday plans are changed, the widowed Mr. Penderwick decides to take his four young daughters --- ages 4 through 12 --- to a cottage in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Instead, though, they find themselves on a beautiful grand estate called Arundel. For the close sisters, Arundel gives them a realm of possibility and each their own treasure-trove of memories and discoveries.

There's practical Rosalind, who, while gladly looking after her three younger sisters, develops a crush on an older teen gardener named Cagney, much to her surprise.

Next there's spirited, loudmouthed Skye, who refuses to back down against far bigger challenges than completing algebra problems.

Then there's the imaginative Jane, whose artistic skills are put to the test as she writes her most important Sabrina Starr adventure yet.

And last but not least, there's shy little Batty, who always wears her butterfly wings as she and her loyal Hound explore the magical gardens and surrounding lands together.

Meanwhile, the Penderwick sisters also find a great companion in Jeffrey Tifton, the owner's son. Jeffrey --- along with the kind housekeeper Churchie, Harry the Tomato Man, and Cagney --- helps the holiday to be a wonderful one that includes tame rabbits and the best gingerbread they ever had. Unfortunately, the terrible, snobbish Mrs. Tifton and her smirky boyfriend Dexter Dupree look down on the children and their adventures. When the Penderwick sisters discover the miserable future that lies in store for their new friend, they realize they must help him --- or else this could be his last happy summer forever!

This is a lighthearted children's book that is also somewhat realistic. Readers won't like how Mrs.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Cecily Partridge on October 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I initially purchased this book for the kids at the library where I work because it takes place in The Bershire Mountains where we live and because it sounded like an old fashin read for young people. After finishing it yesterday in the wee hours of the morning I discovered several new reasons to recommend this book for all ages! It is a wonderful story about resilience and adventure. It has some very, very tame and gentle romance for readers who are a little bit older. It is exciting and at the same time understated. My favorite character had to be Jane, the next to the youngest Penderwick. I wasn't fond of Skye, but she had to be there. The book would not have been the same without her. Mr. Penderwick was the kind of father everyone would have loved to have had and the ending was charming, if not a bit sappy...but who cares?! It is a happy book for kids in this day and age of war and terrorism and juvenile/young adult books where someone is always dying, or addicted, or getting raped.

This book would be a great read-aloud for a class room or a family. Definetly refreshing, I cannot wait for the next installment!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By The Careful Collector on February 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Reminiscent of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" and the summer fun stories of Elizabeth Enright, Jeanne Birdsall's first book, "The Penderwicks", is a wonderfully warm and humorous family story. When their regular summer plans are suddenly canceled the Penderwick family find themselves bound for a country cottage. They find, to their surprise, that the cottage is nestled in the back of the imposing Arundel estate, owned by the equally imposing Mrs. Tifton. In the course of their stay the four Penderwick sisters, Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty, meet and befriend Jeffery Tifton, son of the estate owner. This friendship leads to various adventures and mishaps. The character of each of the sisters is perfectly developed by Mrs. Birdsall, and the various relationships expertly explored. Rosalind as the oldest sister has had to take on the role of mother to her three younger sisters since the death of Mrs. Penderwick, and is often seen to labor under this burden. Skye is the image of her mother, but she has a temper and opinions all her own, and Jane, the author of the family, finds inspiration for her best ever story in the happenings at Arundel. Batty, the youngest Penderwick at four and a half, and her ever faithful Hound are the jewels of the story. The tale of their exploits winds along at the perfect pace, never lagging or becoming dull. This is a wonderful story for children of any age. Please introduce your children to this charming family; you may even enjoy getting to know them yourself.
Jeanne Birdsall's first book, "The Penderwicks", is truly delightful.
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