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The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

Review

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

In her first two books about the lovable, raucous Penderwick clan, Jeanne Birdsall made a name for herself as a writer of family-friendly, old-fashioned comedies with a modern twist. Readers will rejoice at the chance to spend another idyllic (or nearly so!) summer with the Penderwicks, this time at a rented house on the coast of Maine.

At first, the younger Penderwicks view their vacation with more trepidation than anticipation. Their father will be spending the time in England with his new wife and her young son, on what they're calling a belated honeymoon. And most upsetting, responsible oldest sister Rosalind is taking a much-needed vacation of her own --- a vacation from her sisters, and a chance for her to relax and not worry for once. So she's on the New Jersey shore, and the Penderwicks are separated for the first time ever.

Rosalind's absence means that second sister Skye is now the Oldest Available Penderwick, and she's not sure she's up to the challenge. Skye is always serious and ambitious, but does she have Rosalind's skill for keeping her head in a crisis? She's about to find out, since crises seem to follow the Penderwicks wherever they go, even to their cottage on the picturesque (but rocky) Maine coast. Sure enough, within the first few days of their arrival, Skye has had to deal with other people's sprained ankles, possibly broken noses and kitchen messes. It's going to be a long vacation!

As for third sister Jane, she has decided that the next in her series of adventure novels featuring Sabrina Starr should be a romance, but she has no idea how to write a love story. How can she pen a romance when she's never been in one herself? And will her survey about the phenomena of romance help her writing or just make her more confused?

Youngest sister Batty has challenges of her own, ranging from desperately missing her oldest sister (and stand-in mom) Rosalind and her baby brother Ben to worrying about the shadows in her unfamiliar room. But when their old friend Jeffrey arrives to spend the summer with them, he helps Batty find a hidden talent --- and might find a surprise or two of his own.

By focusing her story this time on the three youngest Penderwicks, Birdsall further develops their characters, giving each girl (not to mention Jeffrey) an opportunity to shine in individual subplots and in their interactions with each other and with others they encounter on their vacation. The plot unfolds lazily, smoothly and totally satisfyingly --- just like the rhythm of summer itself.

In THE PENDERWICKS AT POINT MOUETTE, Jeanne Birdsall has created what might be the perfect book for families to take along on their own summer vacations. It's pleasant to imagine dads and moms, brothers and sisters, gathering around the beach blanket or bonfire to read a chapter aloud each night, reveling in the Penderwicks' adventures even as they're creating their own memories.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on May 10, 2011

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
(The Penderwicks #3)
by Jeanne Birdsall