THE PENDERWICKS: A SUMMER TALE OF FOUR SISTERS, TWO RABBITS AND A VERY INTERESTING BOY
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
Ages: 9/10 – 14
The four Penderwick sisters are in trouble. It’s a miracle they got to the holiday paradise of Arundel in the first place, because Hound ate the map. The first week was perfect, but now Batty has lost the gardener’s rabbit, Jane has run through the garden competition yelling about how much she wants to beat up the landlady’s boyfriend, Skye has nearly punched said landlady in the face, Rosalind has no idea why she is always trying to impress Cagney, and Jeffery is being shipped of to military school.
This book is… interesting. I don’t know where to start. It feels like one of those children’s classics, like Anne of Green Gables and that sort, but it has some modern elements. Cagney and Dexter seem 21st century enough, and Jane types out her book on her dad’s computer (although she then prints it. I can’t guess why he took a printer on holiday). It is also not as hard for a ten-year-old to keep reading, unlike Anne of Green Gables (that took me some serious motivation to finish).
It is the day-in-the-life style; switching between character’s point of view and composed mainly of random events and kids getting into trouble, although there is a clear goal and path to get there – save Jeffery, don’t get killed in the process.
Each character has a very definite, um, character, particularly the sisters. It just makes the book that much easier to read. Batty (four, I think) is shy and loves animals. Jane (ten?) is a writer, loud soccer player and likes to become someone else she invented when stressed. Skye (11) I will get back to. Rosalind (12.5) is caring and responsible. She is the only sister who seems to really remember their mom, and takes a mother’s responsibility over the family. She seems to have the most developed character, but I can’t spot the clear individual traits as with the others. She is written to have a blurred, normal, natural, all-round nice personality.
Skye: is sometimes my favourite. She is quick-tempered and likes to pretend she has no emotions. Also, she is supposed to be crazy about maths. She brings her maths book everywhere. These would make her my favourite and most relatable of the sisters, but. This is what irritates me a bit. She is teaching herself algebra. She is eleven. All she needs to do is read, ‘represent an unspecified number with a letter.’ Tada. Now you know algebra. Also, the problems she does are crazy simple. One was, ‘A tree or something was cut into two pieces in a ration of 3:4. The tree or something was 14 [some unit]’. She does stuff like ‘let one piece equal x and the other y‘, cross multiply, bla bla bla, answer. How to work it out, the easy way: 3+4=7. 14/7=2. 2×3=6; 2×4=8. Solved. I’m surprised this didn’t irritate me more, and it probably won’t even occur as anything other than character building to normal people. But, I’m a self-proclaimed nerd an was I was comparatively recently eleven. This site is for ‘people who like books, dogs and NERDY THINGS.’ I probably went into to much detail, but I had to live up to my commitments.
It sounds boring, but it isn’t very. It may be a bit more for tween readers, but it is something nice to read a chapter of before going to sleep. It’s a pleasant read, and must have taken some really good authoring to get the Little Women style into a book readable in 2020 (although, in 2020 in particular, anything is better than nothing).
There are at least four books, and I am not ashamed to admit that I intend to get them. They are good chewing gum to read in bed on a cold morning, which is exactly what I did yesterday (rereading it).
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