From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6–In Jeanne Birdsall's humorous novel (Knopf, 2005), four motherless sisters—Rosalind, 12, Skye, 11, Jane, 10, and Batty, 4—their absentminded professor dad, and the family dog share a summer retreat on the Massachusetts estate of Arundel. Owned by the frosty Mrs. Tifton and her lonely son, Jeffrey, Arundel's pretentious mistress treats the oddly-matched Penderwick sisters and their doting father as social misfits. Feisty Skye and sensitive Jeffrey become best friends, drawing the reluctant Mrs. Tifton and the entire Penderwick clan into a series of hilarious misadventures, including runaway pets, an encounter with a bull, and a first crush. The sisters are determined to help Jeffrey escape being sent to the Pencey Military Academy, Where boys become men and men become soldiers. Susan Denaker's gentle narration of this 2005 National Book Award winner perfectly captures the subtle humor and charm of each character. Fans of Sydney Taylor's All-of-a-Kind Family
or Maud Hart's Betsy-Tacy novels will love this updated version of a comfortable childhood adventure. Just the ticket for an extended family car trip.–Celeste Steward, Alameda County Library, Fremont, CA
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*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 CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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