Friday, August 15, 2008

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, reviewed by Laura Craner

School starts for us on Monday. The transition is surprisingly mind-boggling. How to mark the change from sunny adventures and late bedtimes to structured classrooms and homework? The answer is obvious: a great book!

The Penderwicks, in case you haven't heard of it from your children's librarian or from all the awards it has received, is the tale of four wildly different sisters and their botanist father and the adventures they have during their summer holiday on the meticulously gardened grounds of Arundel Hall. The adventures begin when Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty (whose real name is Elizabeth--after their dead mother) meet Jeffrey, "a very interesting boy", and his mother, who seems to bring out the worst in each girl. They face down a raging bull, some lost bunnies,and a Garden Society Competition (hordes of old women in heels! yikes!), but the real trouble comes when they find out Jeffrey is going to be sent away to military school. What will the girls do? The solution pushes each girl to face down her fears and weaknesses and discover the real strength of family bonds.

My favorite thing about the book was how different each girl was and how integral she was to the family's happiness. It made the book positive and empowering. As I read I found myself hoping my girls would pick up some of Rosalind's dependable nature but hold on to Skye's feistiness too. I wanted them to be a part of Jane's dreamworld and the innocence of Batty's escapades. What really surprised me though, was when I realized I was hoping that I would incorporate some of those traits into my life too.

More than anything, this book was fun--a perfect summer read.

1 comment:

A Well Behaved Mormon Woman said...

Thank you for providing some very nice book reviews for the LDS community. It is often difficult to decide on which book to either read for myself, or give even as a gift - to someone who is LDS.

You provide an excellent resource.