Book of the Week Book reviews

REVIEW: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street


Author: Jeanne Birsdall

Ages: 10-15

The four Penderwick sisters were living what they considered to be more or less the best life, this time back home. But then Aunt Claire turned up with piles of gifts, loads of hugs and a petrifying blue envelope that threatens to turn the family inside-out. Rosalind is completely thrown by the letter and is not taking their neighbour Tommy Greigor’s attempts to help well. At all. On top of it, Batty and Hound are spying on the new neighbours and a simple bit of laziness leaves Skye to face her worst nightmare and her and Jane swimming in guilt.

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street is the second book in the Penderwick series, and is more modern than the previous. It isn’t as classical as The Penderwicks, and revolves closely around the ‘Save-Daddy Plan’. It is still just as enjoyable, and actually kind of gripping – as in you want to find out how it all works out and are disappointed that it ends.

The author seems to have some considerable insight to the Shakespeare-play that is the multidimensional web of tween/junior-teen romance. Possibly A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the only one I have read the whole original of, for school). Complete with a point about three-fifths through where we begin to get hints of something similar to the part where all the wrong people have been given love potions.

So, I do think that some certain characters are too young, but it is just fun. Not at all dirty or anything.

It’s actually quite humorous, particularly Hound stories – but you know how I am about hounds. It isn’t the most surprising tale, but it isn’t one hundred percent predictable. I also accidentally spoiled one particular bit by accidentally highlighting one character’s name (this was on Kindle) and getting the X-ray description. Don’t do that to yourself. I don’t know exactly how predictable this aspect would be if I hadn’t, but my guess is ‘not very’ – unless you have insight/general knowledge that would allow you to recognize something. That was very difficult to write without spoilers. It probably still has some.

It is a book aimed more at twelve-year-olds than fifteen-year-olds, but I enjoyed it at 14 and expect to be able to re-read it later. As I said of the previous, it is a pleasant book. It is more interesting than the first; it is the story I enjoy rather than just the experience. I think that came out right. I do not think it was understandable. Reworded: pleasant is better used to describe The Penderwicks. This book was enjoyable. It had a better plot.

School, sport, writing, family, friendship, the H word (h-o-m-e-w-o-r-k) and some minor young-romancy-I-mean-really?-stuff all form the worldviews of these four girls. Their ranged ages (4 to 12.5) make it a book for readers of ranged ages – but not as young as four. The perspective switches between them, as with in the first book. I found it focuses most on the two oldest, Rosalind and Skye. Maybe they are just the most relatable.

Although I am not a fan of cats, I liked the scene with Skye and the neighbour’s. As in, I liked the scene. The part where Jane reads who is going to Jeffrey is sweet and dramatic, but very Jane-y, as very like her and only her. The author does a good job of defining her characters’ characters. What was realistic was when Jane decided that the alter-ego she used to make that decision was too noble and went back to using Sabrina Starr, from the previous book. This paragraph is for those who have read the previous book.

At some point, one sister goes to visit Jeffrey, their old friend from the previous book. This is a sudden addition to the story, with only a few paragraphs right before explaining why and how. What happened there was not narrated. Then there were a few paragraphs a while later when said sister returned. It reads as if the writer thought she should bring Jeffrey into it but didn’t know how, or wanted the girl out of the way. It wasn’t very well constructed, considering the significance of Jeffrey in the previous book.

I’m not sure if I liked this book more than the first.


Note: if you’re here for the first part of the Random Puzzle (September), well done for getting the right post!



By storiesnstuff22over7

Books, dogs & nerdy things

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s