The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall: Review
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
The Penderwick sisters have received a shock. Their beloved Aunt Claire has produced a letter that their mother wrote for their dad before she passed away. The gist of it is that Mommy never wanted Daddy to be lonely after she died so she wants him to date. Rosalind knows exactly what this means; the possibility of a stepmother. She can't bear the thought of a woman in the house that they shared with their mother. Something has to be done to save Daddy.
I just love the Penderwicks. They are all so cute! Rosalind feels older than twelve, but in her circumstances, I think that's right. She's stepped up to be a mother figure to the younger children. Skye is so abrasive and intelligent, Jane is so dreamy and unintentionally funny, and young Batty is just adorable. I love them all.
It was obvious to me exactly where this was going to end up from the beginning. I've been reading a lot longer than the target audience has, so I have a feeling they'll be surprised. I'm not complaining in any way. It was still a great little innocent story that left me beaming.
Skye and Jane have their own subplot with switched homework and an Aztec play that just had me cracking up! When Batty starts trying to teach the infant boy who lives next door the first lines of the play--"Blood! Innocent blood!"--I just collapsed with laughter. Jane does love her some melodrama.
Mr. Penderwick isn't happy with this dating business but he's stuck with four dates because he promised Aunt Claire. His dates--! Makes me glad I'm happily settled. He gets a little desperate and pulls a stunt that left me giggling. Younger readers won't catch on until the end, but as a voracious reader with a lot of titles under my belt, I just loved what he did. He gets points for creativity!
Susan Dennaker narrates the audio book and I just love her. She speaks slowly enough that children will understand her but as an adult, I never felt condescended to. I've decided that must be a fine line to walk for narrators, but she pulls it off beautifully.
I find myself hoping that the Penderwicks are more representative of little girls today than any of the stuff that shows up on "reality" tv. They are so innocent and, while their cares seem gigantic to them, they are perfectly manageable and usually unfounded. Little girls should love this, as should those of us who have a few more miles but who still love Anne and Emily and company.
Read an excerpt.
My review of the first book, The Penderwicks.
Find author Jeanne Birdsall on her website.
Buy The Penderwicks on Gardam Street at
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