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

“For a long time after that summer, the four Penderwick sisters still talked of Arundel.  Fate drove us there, Jane would say.  No, it was the greedy landlord who sold our vacation house on Cape Cod, someone else would say, probably Skye.” (p. 1)

When their regular vacation home is sold, the Penderwicks find themselves in need of a new summer cottage.  Arundel is not at all what they expected – a gorgeous mansion with sweeping gardens and an amazing cottage.  Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty are thrilled by the enchanting property.  Even more exciting is the prospect of a new friend in Jeffrey, the young boy who lives at the mansion.  Three glorious weeks spread before the girls.  What kind of adventures will they have…and what kind of trouble will they get into?

It’s taken me almost 2 years to pick up The Penderwicks and I’m glad I finally did.  It is an utterly sweet and charming book about sisters, family bonds, friendship and growing up.  It reminded me a lot of Little Women, from the relationships between the sisters, to the characteristics of the girls themselves.  There is Rosalind, the practical, maternal older sister (similar to Meg March).  Then there’s Skye, the endearingly fiesty loudmouth and dreamy, creative Jane (in these two I saw traces of Jo and Amy) and finally little Batty, the shy baby sister (just like Beth).  There isn’t a lot of action in the book, but Birdsall’s strength is her ability to accurately capture the unique bond that can occur between sisters.  Having grown up with 2 sisters myself, I can see a lot of my own childhood in The Penderwicks.  It was a delight to revist those carefree joyful days. 🙂

The Penderwicks:  A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
Juvenile fiction | 272 pages | June 2005 | Knopf Books | 0375831436  | Library copy

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