Susan Mortimer's Reviews > The Penderwicks on Gardam Street

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
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Nov 06, 09

bookshelves: lis-565
Read in July, 2009

I didn't think anything could be more delightful than The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy," but I was proved wrong by the second installment (in a to-be five-part series),"The Penderwicks on Gardam Street."

This book continues where the first left off, though it can be enjoyed thouroughly as a stand-alone. The four Penderwick sisters (ages 4-12) are embroilled in a plot to save their widowed daddy from re-marriage, and while doing so they continue to live their lives - full of the joy, heartbreak, uncertainty, wonderment and changes that come with childhood.

I believe this book is especially to be enjoyed by girls. Readers will quickly fall in live with the entire Penderwick family, as well as their lovely community in the town of Cameron, Massachusetts. This is a book that lends itself to the examination of identity within the family dynamic (especially for a reader that is a girl with sisters), as well as how individuality plays out within a family. Readers will identify with one or more of the sisters: from Rosalind, the eldest at age 12, beautiful, reliable and brave; to Skye, 11, the blonde/blue eyed girl among brunettes/brown eyes, the fearless warrior, the astrophysicit in the making; to Jane, 10, the poet, the dramaticist, the unwavering soccer prodigy; and to Batty, 4, the "sensitive" Penderwick, the one that undertands the animals, and the one that held the answers to the weighty questions all along.

Not many books make me cry, but this one does; both in the prologue and epilogue. And not just the first time I read it, but EVERY time I read it aloud with my own girls. Birdsall really understands children, and she is pitch-perfect in echoing their voices, concerns, dreams, imaginations, and, not least, their everyday lives.
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