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

by Jeanne Birdsall

Hardcover, 2005



Local notes

Fic Bir



Knopf Books for Young Readers (2005), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 272 pages


While vacationing with their widowed father in the Berkshire Mountains, four lovable sisters, ages four through twelve, share adventures with a local boy, much to the dismay of his snobbish mother.

Original publication date


Physical description

272 p.; 8.48 inches


0375831436 / 9780375831430



User reviews

LibraryThing member RidgewayGirl
It's growing increasingly difficult to find books that I can read to my two children. With one eight-year-old and a daughter in middle school, finding a book that appeals to all three of us is increasingly difficult. So finding a book all three of us look forward to is something to celebrate. This year, the clear favorite is this book.

The Penderwicks tells the story of a family who goes to spend a few weeks one summer in a cottage on the grounds of a mansion. Their mother died a few years ago and their father is loving but involved in his botany, the four Penderwick daughters are independent and protective of each other. Rosalind is the oldest at twelve and serves as a surrogate mother to Batty, the youngest Penderwick. Jane is a dreamer and a writer, Skye sporty and mathematical. They meet the son of the big house, Jeffrey, and become involved in his life.

The Penderwicks has the feel of a classic British children's book, while being set in a modern United States. Birdsall manages to make the plot adventurous and action-packed while retaining that old-fashioned feel and keeping the events all tremendously realistic. My children were enthralled, and so was I.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
I am probably just echoing what so many people have already written about The Penderwicks when I say it was a delightful, joyful story that made me feel like I was visiting a favorite book from my youth. Although set in today’s world , this book had an old fashioned, warm feeling that it reminded me of reading Little Women, or watching an old Disney favorite, “Summer Magic”.

The four sisters each has their own strong identity and their conversations with each other were hilarious. I was immediately caught up in their lives, in fact, I wanted to be one of them! With a gentle, loving and wise father to guide them, a wonderful dog to watch over them, their lives seemed to be one long summer adventure.

This author as done a great job of creating a charming book that appears to be on it‘s way to becoming a children‘s classic. I will definitely be looking forward to spending some time with the Penderwicks in their next book.
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LibraryThing member bell7
Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty Penderwick are four sisters who go to a summer cottage on vacation with their father and the dog, Hound. At fourteen, Rosalind tries to keep order and mother the youngest, Batty, who is four. The four girls meet a boy, Jeffrey, and get into all sorts of scrapes during a summer they will always remember.

Though set in the present day, The Penderwicks has a sort of old-fashioned, timeless quality to it. The words that kept coming to mind were cute, sweet, and funny. IPods and designer clothes aren't mentioned, and the themes are such that kids from all generations can relate to, like a child's relationship with a parent, so it's one that I would be willing to purchase and keep around to share with my own (future) children.
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LibraryThing member shillson
The Penderwicks is a story about 4 sisters who are spending the summer in the Berkshire Mountains with their widowed father and dog, Hound. The cottage they are renting for the summer is on an elegant property with a mansion and prize-winning gardens. In the mansion lives a young boy and his very strict and snobbish mother, Mrs. Tifton. Mrs. Tifton does not like clumsy Hound or the girls exploring through her gardens. She's not thrilled about her son playing with them either. Nonetheless the children enjoy a summer of adventure and childhood antics.
The antics of the children are age appropriate and realistic. The children each have unique personalities and are likeable and relatable characters. The story has an old fashioned feel to it and the story leaves you wishing for simpler times. This would be a great family read and may even get some kids wanting to explore the outdoors. I would recommend this book to students in grades 3-6.
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LibraryThing member Sarahfine
But for the cars, this book could have been written in any time frame. With the same family feel as "Five Little Peppers" and "Little Women," the Penderwicks is a charming tale about 4 girls and their father who go on vacation to a giant country estate, where they befriend a neighbor boy with a stern mother.
LibraryThing member ChristianR
Wonderfully engaging book about four sisters, their dog, and a boy who they befriend while on vacation. While each sister has a very distinct personality, they look out for each other. Their adventures, and their concern for Jeffrey who is going to be sent to a military boarding school, provide a lot of tension and entertainment.
LibraryThing member babbryan
This reminds me of The Boxcar Children. It is reading level of 5.0 but the interest level of a third grader. I just thought it was all too contrived. Nothing real, nothing alive in it for me. No life lessons except you should talk to your parents about important things. I don't get the award?
LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
The four Penderwick sisters have adventures with their neighbor, a boy with a very strict mother, while on vacation. The characters are well-developed and lovely. Each Penderwick sister has a very different personality and they're all very likeable in their own way. They have a very close bond and it made me want to be a Penderwick, too!

This is a slow, rich, summertime story with an old-fashioned, timeless feel. It's also squeaky clean and would make a good suggestion for younger kids with advanced reading levels.
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LibraryThing member richardderus
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 Penderwicks on Gardam Street" unread because I didn't want to risk the coma becoming permanent this time. My granddaughter will be relieved, too, since she wasn't any more impressed than I was.
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LibraryThing member Ms.Turtle
Good book! The four Penderwick sister's(Rosalind, Jane,Skye, and Batty) try to enjoy a vacation. In this book the Penderwick girls meet a boy named Jeffory and her mother Mrs.Tipton.
LibraryThing member alimcc
"The Penderwicks" follows four sisters -- Rosalind, Skye, Jane and Batty -- as they spend their summer vacation in the Berkshire Mountains.

Thinking they are spending the summer in a quaint cottage, the four sisters and their father soon find that they are in fact guests on Mrs. Tifton's sprawling estate, complete with lush garden and a young gardener. The four girls soon meet Mrs. Tifton's son, Jeffrey, a lonely, adventurous young boy who secretly dreams of being a musician but has resigned to his fate of attending the Military Academy, just like his father. As the four girls and Jeffrey strike up a friendship, they find themselves in numerous sticky situations. When an accident involving the family's goofy dog, hound, and a beloved bunny convinces four year old Batty to set out on her own towards home, will the summer end in disaster?

The Penderwicks has a very timeless, magical feel to it. It almost reads as a re-imagining of the Secret Garden in the beginning, and except for the few references to modern conveniences such as cars, it is easy to forget the story is contemporary. At it's heart, it is a tale of familial love and the bonds of friendship. Even though they don't always like eachother, it is clear that the Penderwick sisters have a deep affection for one another, and they let Jeffrey into this tight-knit circle. Readers will find themselves wanting to spend more time with this fun, quirky, loving family. Highly recommended for grades 4-6.
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LibraryThing member lhunt314
Kind of like "The Secret Garden" with development of friendship and misunderstood children. Characters aren't too well developed and many of the stories problems remain unresolved or only partially resolved.
LibraryThing member Nikkles
I like to read children's books. I enjoyed them as a child and continue to enjoy them. I don't usually read the ones that win awards, since there usually dreadfully sad. The Penderwicks are delightfully funny, while still dealing with the real troubles of childhood. All the characters are very unique and believable. The children while being very bright and creative are not so bright and creative that they couldn't possibly be children. This all points to very good writing. A perfect book for children and adults that like to read good well planned stories. As I believe some authors have mentioned this book does as an old fashioned feel to the writing as it doesn't get caught up with how fast paced and different modern children are. This is I believe a big plus and very close to how many children are still raised. So, overall a very fun and interesting book that can be read and enjoyed by all.… (more)
LibraryThing member smpenni
Feeling like a modernized version of Alcott's classic, Little Women, reader's will be instantaneously charmed by the character's in Birdsall's The Penderwicks. . . With never a dull moment, the reader is pulled into the story and can identify with the personality of at least one of the sisters, and can envision the enormous estate on which they are guests for the summer. The adventures never, at least until the book does, so grab this one and get reading!… (more)
LibraryThing member marnattij
Sweet, yet not syrupy this is the story of four sisters and the summer they spend meeting Jeffrey, whose mother and her boyfriend want to send off to military academy even though he wants to be a musician; Cagney the summer gardener, whom the older Pendwick focuses her first crush on; the mean next door neighbor (Jeffrey's mother) and an attic full of treasures.

Written in the style of delicious books from childhood the problems are slight, the adventures, mild, and the humor, bold not subtle. Yet, everyone once a while needs a little sugar in their diet and this provides just the right amount for a guilty pleasure, quickly enjoyed.
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LibraryThing member MSLMC
This book reminds me of stories by Elizabeth Goudge. Though set in current day, the style of writing is charming and "old fashioned." Four sisters, a writer, a tomboy, a responsible oldest, and the "baby" of the family, meet the boy next door who becomes a good friend of the sisters- sound familiar?
LibraryThing member MaowangVater
Instead of their usual trip to Cape Cod, the Penderwick sisters (ages 12, 11, 10, and 4) and their father spend three weeks in the Berkshires for their summer vacation. When they first arrive they discover they’ve rented a guest cottage on a huge estate owned by the “snooty as all get-out” Mrs. Tifton and her son Jeffery, who, unlike his mother, is very friendly and close to the sisters age.… (more)
LibraryThing member francescadefreitas
Wonderful, wonderful book! I haven't read anything this charming in ages. The four Penderwick sisters and their father hire a cottage for a few weeks of summer holidays and adventures of all sorts are unavoidable. I am head over heels in love with all four sisters, each of them delightful. This was like rereading an old favourite by E. Nesbit, except with telephone and computers in. The four sisters make friends with the surrounding people, help figuratively rescue a boy from an overbearing mother, and uphold the Penderwick Family Honour. This is old-fashioned in the best way in that the girls aren't afraid to be clever, sporty, imaginative, and on occasion, a tiny bit sentimental.
I'd give this to any reader who fondly remembers summer holidays. But especially those looking for family adventures.
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LibraryThing member saucyhp
The kind of story I liked when I was younger, its good to see they're still being written! Although life is different for children nowadays and their fiction reflects that, sometimes you just want a simple, charming story like this one.
LibraryThing member bibliophile26
This book was the National Book Award Winner of Children's Literature in 2005. 4 girls becoming friends with a boy neighbor? Sounds like a Little Women rip-off, right? It certainly did to me, but I found the characters charming and the stories cute.
LibraryThing member pattymarsh
A cute book that melds the feeling of an old fashioned children's story with modern day. Upper Elem.
LibraryThing member jepeters333
Delightful story about four sisters and their father who spend a vacation in a cottage on an estate. The sisters make friends (expected and unexpected) and solve typical problems.
LibraryThing member kayceel
Charming and sweet - Sofi and I both enjoyed it quite a bit.
LibraryThing member hoosgracie
Very sweet story. Really liked the sisters, especially Sky. Batty was also a lot of fun. Look forward to the next one.
LibraryThing member sdekorsi
Such a timeless story of young girls on vacation with their father So many adventures to be had in this summer story. I laughed with the girls as well as felt their pain in some sad moments. I, honestly, didn't want the story to end.

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