Title: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Genre: Children’s fiction
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: I bought this last year to read to the kids, because we loved the first one.
First line: Their mother had been here in the hospital with the new baby for almost a week.
The Penderwicks was easily one of our favorite read-alouds of 2008, and The Penderwicks on Gardam Street is sure to be one of our favorites from 2009. Jeanne Birdsall has created the most delightful family of sisters since Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.
Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty are back home after their summer vacation on Arundel Estate. They miss Jeffrey, but are glad that he is happily attending a boarding school for musicians in Boston. Everything is going well with the new school year, until Aunt Claire arrives with a letter that changes everything. Mrs. Penderwick died when Batty was a baby, and she left a letter with Mr. Penderwick’s sister, Claire, to be given to Mr. Pen after a few years have gone by. Claire delivers the letter as requested, which states Mrs. Penderwick’s wish that Mr. Pen start dating again.
This announcement – and Mr. Penderwick’s reluctant agreement to try to fulfill his late wife’s wish – has the girls in an uproar, and The Save-Daddy Plan is initiated. The girls are determined to set Mr. Pen up with every annoying, incompatible woman in town so that he will give up on his search for the next Mrs. Pen.
The kids and I adore the four Penderwick sisters: Rosalind, with her maturity and sense of reponsibility; Skye, with her quick temper and mad soccer skills; Jane, with her flair for the romantic; and adorable little Batty, who never goes anywhere without Hound. Their new neighbor, Iantha, has a toddler son named Ben, who becomes fast friends with Batty, in spite of the fact that his vocabulary seems to be limited to the word “duck.”
The fact that my three boys all said, “I love these books!” when we finished – books that are about a family of sisters – show Ms. Birdsall’s talent in writing an enthralling story with delightful characters and wonderful dialogue. It took me a few attempts to get through the last few pages, wiping tears from my eyes. I noticed Natalie had a few tears of her own. Noah said, “I hope there’s a number three!” and we were all ecstatic to learn that Ms. Birdsall plans three more books in the series.