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The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy Paperback – March 13, 2007

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Penderwicks
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reissue edition (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440420474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440420477
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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

One of the best children's books I've read in a long time.
She wrote an excellent book, which I highly recommend to readers of all ages.
Team LitPick
The characters are unbelievably believable, and very intriguing.
R. Gramling

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

281 of 304 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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50 of 52 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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34 of 36 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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12 of 12 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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