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

(The Penderwicks #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  40,881 ratings  ·  4,439 reviews
In this middle-grade novel, a summer of exciting new experiences awaits the lively Penderwick sisters at a summer rental cottage on the large Berkshire estate of Mrs. Tifton, a snobby heiress. With a spacey but loving botanist father, 12-year-old Rosalind is often in charge. Her younger sister, Jane, age 11, is a writer with a dramatic flair. Skye, 10, is fond of explorati ...more
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published June 14th 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Popular Answered Questions
Gracie I disagree also. I absolutely love this book, and I have heard people enjoy it from ages 6 to 85. I am 13 and it is one of my favorites.
Mary I read the first book when I was nine or ten. I think that between 8-12 is the ideal age but my whole family loves it, adults can also enjoy.

Community Reviews

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4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  40,881 ratings  ·  4,439 reviews

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Rick Riordan
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ll admit I approach award-winning children’s books with some trepidation. All too often, children’s literature awards denote books that appeal to adult librarians and book critics rather than to children. The books are like brussel sprouts on the literary table. We are told to read them because they are supposedly good for us, not because we will enjoy them.

I was happy to find that National Book Award winner The Penderwicks was an exception. Four sisters and their father take a three-week sum
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
I'm upping to 5 stars on reread. This is a timeless, heartwarming middle grade story of the Penderwick family and their three week vacation one August in a rental cottage in the Berkshire mountains, in western Massachusetts.


It may not sound too exciting, but with the Penderwicks, everything is an adventure! The family consists of:

❧ Mr. Penderwick, a widower who loves plants and randomly speaks in Latin to his daughters;
❧ Rosalind, age 12, who's taken on the caregiver role for her younger sist
May 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All my friends!!!
Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read!!! My heart is so full, having just finished the book--it really touched me deeply and I absolutely love it! After just a few pages, I knew I the Penderwicks were destined to become my dear book-friends (like the March sisters and Anne and Emily of old!) and indeed the whole story was absolutely darling, charming, sweet, refreshing--everything I'd hoped for and more (because it is also remarkably sensitive, thoughtful and--I hate to say it, rare- ...more
Kristin Hackett (SuperSpaceChick)
4.5 stars - This books is wonderful! It has all of the magic of a classic and I love the relationship between all of the sisters. Plus Hound is such a fun character!
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A lovely set-up for a book, but the characters never felt real. Somehow all the ages felt off--Batty talked like someone much older than 4, I had to keep reminding myeslf that Rosalind was only 12, and Mrs. Tifton seemed like she was in her 50s, not early 30s. I just never fell in love with the characters. It was trying too hard to be sweet and charming.
I did like Hound though.
Brian Yahn
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The tale of the Penderwicks is the epitome of a middle grade masterpiece. Adults that just don't get it, a summer vacation in a strange new land, hopeless love, heartbreak, best-friends-at-first-sight friendships, a family so close you wish you were a part of it. Jeanne Birdsall takes everything you loved about your childhood and whittles it down to a couple hundred pages.

The Penderwick children have enough personality to fill a series and I look forward to continuing the series and seeing where
m a r y l i z
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Oh my stars! This book was the sweetest, most touching thing I've ever read. <3

It completely captured the essence of childhood. Honestly, the book was such a sensitive and touching portrayal of childhood. It made me tear up more than once as I really saw the characters in such a raw, honest way. They felt so real and relatable.

The writing itself made me feel all cozy and comfortable. It was blissfully nostalgic, heralding back to the classic children's stories of the past. And it held a cert
Crystal Starr Light
Jul 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Crystal Starr Light by: Shannon
Bullet Review:

This was a lot of fun, very reminiscent of quirky, family adventure books I read as a child. I would heartily recommend to this age group or anyone who is a child at heart who loves fun.

That said, there were a few eye-twitching parts/moments that keep this from a higher rating.

Although I rated it 3 stars, this is not me hating on the book! It is me saying it was "Okay". A book I would definitely recommend, but not want to pursue further books in the series.

Full review:

The Penderwic
May 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone!
Recommended to Ann by: Katie - thanks for the treasure!
What a wonderful treasure!
I really couldn't tell you exactly what it was about this book that made me want to come back to it at every spare moment. It's not like there is some huge climax, or that I'm waiting to see if my favorite character makes it to the end of an adventure alive - it's not that sort of book. And yet, it is. The Penderwicks are an absolutely wonderful, lovable and endearing family made up of four sisters (from ages 4 to 12 1/2), their loving father, and their happy and protec
Kellyn Roth
Reread 5/10/18:

Oh, wow! This book is just as good as ever. I just love it. <3 Rereading it, I think the girls are probably a little more mature than their ages would warrant - except Batty, perhaps - but I can overlook that. Perhaps it will inspire children to try to be more grownup (in an acceptable childish way, of course) and become nicer people! ;P

Now that I can understand Latin, Mr. Penderwick is 100000x better. xD

Original Read(s)?:

This is simply one of the best children's books I ever r
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: girls who love the good old days
The Penderwicks will go down in my memory as some of the great sister characters of all time-- right up there with the Marches and Hilary McKay's Cassons (sorry, Indigo- boys are great, too).

The plot is simple, the Penderwick sisters, their dog, Hound, and their widower father, rent a cottage for a three week summer vacation. The cottage is part of a large estate owned by the snippy, snooty, superior, Mrs. Tifton, and her son, Jeffrey.

The girls have many adventures, some planned, many accidental
Brigid ✩ Cool Ninja Sharpshooter ✩
*Hugs book to chest* This was so cute and I enjoyed it immensely! I've been struggling to catch up on my 50-book challenge for the year so I've been trying to read some short middle grade books to meet my goal. I remember my teenage sisters liking this book a lot when they were younger, and my 10-year-old sister recently became enamored with them, so I decided to give the first book a try. And I'm so glad I did!

The Penderwicks has a very nostalgic quality to it––both the book cover and the conte
I read this out loud to my 4, 8, and 10 year kiddos. After reading all the glowing reviews, I was ready to dive in, head first, and read the entires series to my kids. I envisioned my kids seeing me as the coolest mom, ever, for sharing such an awesome book with them. I can testify, that it really is a fun book that caused us to giggle throughout the pages and we all earnestly looked forward to our lunch time reading sessions. It did hold a nostalgia that creates a longing to be transported into ...more
Ah...this was okay. The writing was fine, and the characters had promise. Unfortunately, a quarter way through the book everyone and everything became way too predictable and contrived.

At times the characters felt believable and at others not so believable. To me the best characters are the ones who seem to act on their own accord, write themselves, and manipulate the author. And there were times when the Penderwick sisters felt like those kind of characters. But then...

Then there were other tim
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awwwww. :)

While I wouldn't say that this really became a favorite, I'll definitely have to try to finish the rest of the series at some point, to see if (and how) the ships sail, etc.

I think my favorite character might have been Rosalind. She was so sweet and also relatable in some ways. But then, I don't know, I liked all the Penderwicks, and Cagney, and Jeffrey . . .

Solid book! :)
Dec 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, young-adult
As I was reading, I had to keep reminding myself that the story is contemporary, that it doesn't take place in the 1950s or the 1820s. That's because the characters don't watch television, they're polite to adults, they care about their education, and they use their imaginations to fuel their leisure activities. They're awesome.

Four sisters--Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty--are vacationing in the country with their father. They've taken over a cottage on a large estate, and they meet Jeffrey, th
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Charming, charming, charming. This book, which in many ways could have taken place alongside Little Women, suited me perfectly! A summer vacation in a New England cottage, a hound named Hound, a tight-knit group of sisters who look out for each other, a kind and warm housekeeper! And it's nostalgic, to be sure, but not old-fashioned. In fact, it almost seems to take place in no time, in no place. There are computers and telephones, but they only exist quietly in the background; New York and Bost ...more
Tracey Dyck
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads, favorites
This book came highly recommended by several friends of mine, and it did not disappoint!

I'm not even sure how to review it. Think back to your fondest childhood summer, sprinkle it with imagination and adventure, and mix it with a dash of humor and buckets of warm fuzzies. That's pretty much The Penderwicks. Like Peter Pan did, it transported me back to childhood in a way that made me smile and want to live at Arundel with these kids just a little longer.

Rosalind, the oldest sister, is sensible
Linda Hart
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a delightful book that will charm adults and children alike. The story captures that timeless magic of an imaginative and happy childhood spent exploring the outdoors experiencing adventures both humorous and frightening with family and friends. This is book 1 of a series and it stands alone with no cliff hangers that leave the reader without a satisfying ending. However I found myself growing very attached to the three-dimensional characters, and enjoyed the author's writing style so mu ...more
What a fun and charming book!

This book has been on my TBR list for a while, and I have to admit that at first, it was the cover that drew me in, and then I definitely wanted to read it after finding out it was a children's book about a family of four sisters.

The Penderwicks is the perfect read for a sunny summer day. Once I began reading this, I was instantly drawn into the family's adventures, and to be honest, I was reminded of Little Women in that each of the sisters had her own distinct pe
Small Review
I so completely love this book. If Anne of Green Gables and Little Women met, had a baby, and sent it to live in modern times the result would be this book. I adore every single thing about this book. Have you ever watched a show like Full House where you might snicker a little over how corny it is, but secretly you wish that could be your life? Maybe it's just me, but when I watched that show I wished I could live there with a dad who always knew the exact right thing to say to make me feel bet ...more
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-books
Anyone and EVERYONE should read this book.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels, kiddos
What a wonderful book this is! I've heard parts of this series via audiobook, but with the recent release of the fifth and final Penderwicks novel, my family and I have settled in to read the whole series for bedtime.

Jeanne Birdsall has not been shy about describing this series as a modern-day successor to classic siblings-on-their-own stories written by Louisa May Alcott and Edith Nesbit, and she succeeds wildly with The Penderwicks, which somehow was her first-ever novel. There's so much deli
I enjoyed this story completely and found it charming. I think it will appeal to youngsters around the 8-10 range.

But there are many good reviews of this book, so I'm going to express my displeasure regarding the marketing, the description.

"A National Book Award winner, this modern classic is perfect for fans of Noel Streatfeild and Edward Eager."

I once was a young reader (yes, I know, shocking!) who would search and search for good fantasy stories. When I was past that awkward first-chapter bo
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: younger
Birdsall's first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, had a timeless and innocent charm. Reminiscent of many childrens' books from the first half of the twentieth century, it could have been set at any point in the past century. Although the summer adventures of the four sister and their friend and dog had serious elements (eg Jeffrey's miserable home life) and were sometimes dangerous (eg the bull) they were truly child-like and carefree ...more
Melissa McShane
I read the fourth book first and of course had to immediately run out and get the others. I hadn't realized what a chronological gap there is between this book and The Penderwicks in Spring, where Batty (here only four or five, I can't remember which) is almost eleven, and it was an interesting change to see the older sisters as young as Batty is there.

The Penderwicks exist in a sort of alternate universe in which things aren't perfectly perfect--poor Jeffrey has a horrible mother and doesn't ev
Richard Derus
Rating: two very bored stars of five

Old-fashioned children's title, but so boring it put me to sleep every ~10pp. I read "The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew" last year, for the first time, and didn't feel this deadening miasma of ennui...and it's hard to get more old-fashioned than that! Elizabeth Enright's "The Four-Storey Mistake" is old-fashioned, and likewise passes the well-aged test. To be fair, the latter was a re-read, so there were existing happy associations.

I returned "The Pend
The Penderwick Family is on summer vacation to somewhere they've never been before. It turns out to be a wonderful place, and although mishaps do happen the Penderwick sisters will never forget this almost magical trip.

This is the most sweetest book I've ever read! How do I put the loveliness of this book into words to convince you to read it if you haven't yet? Should I say that it tugs at the heartstrings? Should I tell you that each of the four sisters are written very well with distinct pers
May 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this to my daughter (age 7) last summer. It's a great summer book (since the characters are on their summer vacation), but not fluffy in the least. Though it's a modern novel, there's an innocence and timelessness to the sisters and their situation. There's no encroachment of pop culture references or lingo, and their actions and emotions are age-appropriate. Now, unfortunately that's a bit of a rarity on the Borders "young reader" bookshelves, which are crammed with books about girls in ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Favorite Penderwick Sister 102 232 Feb 05, 2019 09:42AM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Children’s book about siblings who go live on a farm. [s] 4 30 Oct 02, 2018 09:12PM  
Series 1 1 Sep 07, 2018 07:11AM much is too much? 1 2 Aug 14, 2018 10:37AM  
The Nick Geiger F...: Rereading: The Penderwicks 57 10 May 20, 2018 09:14PM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. YA book about five siblings, single dad. [s] 3 23 Feb 03, 2018 07:57AM  
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Jeanne Birdsall grew up in the suburbs west of Philadelphia, where she attended wonderful public schools. Jeanne had lots of great teachers, but her favorites were: Mrs. Corkhill, sixth grade, who encouraged her intellectual curiosity; Mr. Tremonte, eighth grade algebra, who taught Jeanne to love and respect math; and Miss Basehore, second and fourth year Latin, to whom Jeanne (and Mr. Penderwick) ...more

Other books in the series

The Penderwicks (5 books)
  • The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (The Penderwicks, #2)
  • The Penderwicks at Point Mouette (The Penderwicks, #3)
  • The Penderwicks in Spring (The Penderwicks, #4)
  • The Penderwicks at Last (The Penderwicks, #5)
“And I don't know if Batty's gotten over it yet,' said Skye.

Mr. Penderwick looked out the window to where Batty was playing vampires with Hound. Hound was on his back, trying to wiggle out of the black towel Batty had tied around his neck. Batty was leaping over Hound's water bowl, shrieking, 'Blood, blood!'

'She looks all right,' he said.”
“Don't kill her now, just when we've gone to all that trouble to rescue her," said Jeffrey.” 57 likes
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