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The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

Review

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

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. Tifton treats the girls, but they will enjoy the sisters' special bond, such as when they have their secret MOOPS. As with summer holidays, the book ends too quickly but will continue to be just as memorable as the years go by.

THE PENDERWICKS is Jeanne Birdsall's first novel and the winner of the 2005 National Book Award.

Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle on June 14, 2005

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
(The Penderwicks #1)
by Jeanne Birdsall