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

This book is as good as its title is long!  I feel no hesitation in saying this first-time author must have read the same classic children’s titles that I read as a child.  It has the nostalgic feel of Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald…Little Women by Louisa May Alcott…The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney, and all those wonderful family stories about friendships, growing up, making mistakes, and making things right.      

The Penderwicks, consisting of Father the absent-minded botanist, Rosalind the oldest, Skye the tomboy, Jane the author, and Batty the Butterfly (she always, always wears butterfly wings), Penderwicks_1 spend a summer to remember in a cottage in the Berkshires on the grounds of Arundel – a stately country house with an award-winning garden.  As the garden is absolutely, positively off limits to the girls and Hound, the girls’ stalwart friend and protector, they naturally have their first adventure of the summer there.  Mrs. Tifton, the lady of the manor, is NOT amused.  The jury is still out on her son – glimpsed from afar looking out a window at the girls.  The girls believe he is a Very Interesting Boy, who may or may not need to be rescued from that window.  More adventures soon follow – there is a Near Death Experience involving a bull, some Truly Humiliating Experiences for nearly everyone, lessons in how best to speak to Grown Ups, Daring Rescues, Runaway Rabbits, First (Almost) Romances and more.  Best of all, the Penderwicks prove the strong bonds of family and make some truly Unforgettable Friends.

(Brandon Bensley, Glenwood Branch)

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