The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. I have blogged about them a ton: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street inspired my first Food From Fiction post (it was the book that gave me the idea), I wrote about Tommy & Rosalind's sweet tween romance, and reviewed The Penderwicks on Mouette Street. Whenever I write about my favorite books, these books top the list.
However, I never gave Cagney a thought as a wonderful YA boy because The Penderwicks (which is the one he is in) is a MG book. But I had a sixth grade girl turn it in the other day and when I asked her if she liked it she said she LOVED Cagney. And even though this is a MG book, he is a YA boy. So he is perfect for this kind of post!
I have done a few of these posts highlighting boys that I think are wonderful examples of young men in the YA books I read. They all have qualities that I would like to see in my sons as they become young men. Today Cagney joins the list.
Cagney is a gardener that works at the estate where the Penderwicks are renting a cottage for the summer in the first Penderwick book. Rosalind, the oldest Penderwick, develops her first crush on him during the summer. He is the perfect boy for a first crush! He's older than Rosalind (he is 18 she is 12, maybe 13) so ultimately she has no chance, but he is so nice and friendly to her (and to all the sisters and to Hound). He enjoys being a gardener and takes pride in his work. The best word to describe Cagney is kind. He is kind to all the younger kids and makes Batty feel as important as Rosalind; he put a rope ladder in the tree that Skye and Jane use to visit Jeffery; he lets them be kids and covers up for them if he needs to. He is just such a good guy!
In the end, of course, Rosalind gets her heart broke, even though logically she knows that the age difference was too great (and to be fair to Cagney, he was just very kind to her never flirty). But at the very end, he pays her a compliment that makes the crush totally worthwhile.
Check out Cagney in The Penderwicks--and try not to remember your first impossible crush on an older boy!