Feb 2, 2010

Tween Tuesdays: The Penderwicks

I love The Penderwick girls. This is a story about four sisters who have a summer adventure while living with their widowed father in a cottage the rented on an estate. It was written by Jeanne Birdsall and won the National Book Award in 2005.

I was still a kindergarten teacher when I found this book. The librarian at the school I was at had ordered it but not gotten around to reading it yet so I snapped it up. Something about the cover made me want to jump into this story. Jump I did and I loved it. It reminded me so much of books I read when I was younger. There was not the angst you find nowadays, nor the irony or big traumatic twist. It is just a good, solid story of four girls and their summer.

There is controversy surrounding this book. The biggest being that it is unrealistic for kids nowadays. In fact, the librarian that first gave me it to read had that feeling about the book and did not love it. But, why does there always have to be a divorce or date rape or cheating or something big that the characters have to overcome. There are children in this world who actually have pretty steady lives and childhoods. This is actually a realistic view of growing up for some children.

I loved what Jeanne Birdsall said in an article I read about her after I read this book. She commented about how her childhood was rough so she liked reading stories that let her escape that a bit. She didn't need to read about kids having hard lives because she was having a hard life. She wanted to not think about that for awhile. (I am totally paraphrasing this, I read it back in 2006 and cannot find that same interview online, but here is one where she says very similar things.)

She published a sequel in 2007, The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, which was every bit as good, and I am patiently waiting for the third one. She says she plans to write 5 of them. Most of the girls I have had read this have loved it and several of the parents that picked it up after their daughters have finished also loved it. In the meantime she wrote a picture book called Flora's Windy Day which is being illustrated by Matt Phelan, which to me is a match made in children's book heaven!


  1. What? There's controversary surrounding The Penderwicks?? I LOVED this book! I thought it was a great read and perfect for readers who want a book that has the feel of children's classics like Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden.

  2. Oh-and I too think it's a great mother daughter read.