Off the Shelf: The Adventures of the Penderwicks

By Sharon Saye on November 07, 2018 from Off the Shelf via

Parents looking for books for their children often harken back to their own favorite books.  I remember reading stacks of Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins which were formulaic, but that is what I wanted as a kid.  One of my favorites was “The Saturdays” by Elizabeth Enright about a family in New York City during the war years.  Trying to find books like these today can be a challenge, but Jeanne Birdsall has produced a series of books about a family of sisters and their adventures that perfectly fits the bill.
“The Penderwicks” tells the story of one summer vacation with four sisters, two rabbits, a dog and a very interesting boy.  Their father rented a cottage for two weeks that turns out to be a very special place on a beautiful estate called Arundel.  In its sprawling gardens, and treasure-filled attic, the four sisters discover a summer of adventure.
There is responsible Rosalind, stubborn Skye, dreamy Jane and shy little sister, Batty.  Batty is absolutely obsessed with animals and Jane is busy writing a novel of adventure for its heroine.  Helping to make this the perfect vacation is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who shares their love of adventure.  Unfortunately, his mother is not as pleased with the bad influence she perceives that the Penderwicks provide. In this the first story, all of the family get to shine in a fun romp through all sorts of complications and shenanigans. 
The sequel, “The Penderwicks on Gardam Street,” complicates matters further when their aunt decides it is time for their father to begin dating again.  Much as they love their aunt, none of the Penderwick siblings think this is a good idea, and soon come up with a plot to derail this complication.  In the meantime, Skye has temper issues on the soccer field, Jane’s creative writing is getting a little too creative and Batty is busy spying on their new neighbors.
In the third book, “The Penderwicks at Point Mouette,” the family vacations in Maine without Rosalind who is at the beach with her best friend.  This leaves Skye as the responsible eldest Penderwick sister as Batty’s talents are revealed, Jeffrey’s past explodes in their face and Jane falls in love.
The fourth book, “The Penderwicks in Spring,” jumps forward in time with two new members added to the family while Batty takes on money-raising responsibilities to pay for her music lessons.  Finally, the series concludes with “The Penderwicks at Last,” in which Rosalind is getting married and the entire family is off to the Arundel estate to plan an old-fashioned, homemade-by-Penderwicks’ wedding. 
These are delightful books full of humor and heart that children will enjoy and so will their parents.  They are also great books to read aloud.

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