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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
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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
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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 Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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I chose to skip certain bits and change certain words as we read. I will likely try book 2 and do the same .
Some words /characteristics that may or may not bother you . Things I like knowing about before handing my kids a book. A few potential spoilers ...
1. "Oh my God " is used by an upset adult .
2. One child in the book often jokes about how she is going to murder someone .
3. One of the girls is 12 and has a major crush . She talks about having kissed a boy & imagines what it would be like to kiss her crush.
4. couple in late teens is caught kissing .
5. There is some sneaking around behind parents backs .
6. Some "white lies" are told .
All of these are topics I prefer to talk with my kids about as we read or skip over .
Overall, we laughed and enjoyed this book & look forward to trying book 2.
You wouldn't know this book is the authors first. Set on a grand estate in the Berkshire Mountains (representtt), the Penderwick's vacation there for 3 weeks one summer.