REVIEW of The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (The Penderwicks #1), by Jeanne Birdsall

PenderwicksThe Penderwicks consist of one father, four sisters, and a dog named Hound. Rosalind is the eldest, just starting to daydream about romance. Skye is the blue-eyed one, full of spunk and sass. Jane is the third sister, an aspiring author with many a rhetorical flourish. And four-year-old Batty is the youngest, with a pair of butterfly wings she never takes off.

When the Penderwicks go away for summer vacation, they end up in a little cottage on a grand country estate called Arundel. While avoiding the snooty estate owner Mrs. Tifton, the girls make friends with her son Jeffrey, and with the gardener, the housekeeper, the tomato stand man, and a couple of rabbits. But the imaginative and irrepressible Penderwicks are not exactly the company Mrs. Tifton prefers her son to keep, and having those girls running around the estate proves to be a liability when the Garden Club award is on the line….

This middle grade book is a charming adventure that felt like a modern version of an E. Nesbit novel or a younger and more exciting version of Little Women. Each of the Penderwick girls are remarkable in their own way. Mr. Penderwick was a great character as well, dropping the odd Latin phrase here and there to comment on events and providing gentle support while restraining his daughters’ shenanigans. Jeffrey fits in perfectly with the Penderwick family, and I can’t wait to see how the friendship continues in the second book of the series.

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